How often have you been working diligently when a shiny new article or video caught your eye? You likely either stopped what you were doing to check it out—thereby putting the skids on your productivity—or you ignored it and soldiered on, only to lose track of it later.
Content bookmarking tools—colloquially called “read it later” apps after one of the first and most popular of them—make it easy to capture and curate these articles and videos on the fly. When you’re done working, you can return to them and read, organize, and even share them with others. Here are three of the best.
The original read-it-later was actually called “Read It Later,” until it was rebranded as Pocket in 2012. This decade-old app remains one of the most loved bookmarking methods. Capturing content is as easy as clicking a browser bookmarklet whenever you happen on an article, image, or video you want to review later and tagging it.
You can sort all your saved content as a list or a grid and narrow your search using keywords. Selecting a saved article will open it in a plain white window free of ads and other webpage elements for distraction-free reading. From here, you can also switch to viewing it in its original web format. All your saved content can also be viewed offline.
Pocket integrates with more than 500 web, desktop, and mobile apps including Twitter, WordPress, and Feedly. Bookmarklets are available for most browsers (Firefox has its own extension) and dedicated Pocket apps are available for Android, iOS, and Mac OS. It’s free to use, but for $5 a month or $45 a year you can upgrade to a premium account with additional features like smart tags and a personal backup of all your content.
Like Pocket, Instapaper allows you save content via bookmarklets and strips it of distractions. But what sets it apart is its emphasis on the reading experience and content discovery.
Instapaper presents articles in a clean, newspaper-like format. You can choose from four easy-to-read fonts—two serif and two sans-serif—and adjust the size. While you’re reading, you can highlight text and notes, which are saved to a dedicated notes folder accessible from the homepage. Instapaper also recently added a speed reading feature that displays article text one word a time along with an estimated reading time based on the display speed.
In addition to at the ability to add your own articles, you can browse curated articles selected by Instapaper editors and shared by your friends.
Instapaper can be used on the web and has dedicated apps for Android, iOS and Kindle. It recently opened the added features of Instapaper Premium to all users for free.
Many of us increasingly discover content, at least partly, through our Facebook feeds. You may not realize, though, that the social media site has its own method for saving these articles and videos.
When you see content you to file away for later viewing, click the down arrow in the top right of the post and select the save option —this will say Save link, Save video, or Save event based on the type of content. To view the content later, click the Save option in the left sidebar on your homepage. You can also archive an item by hovering over it and clicking the “X.”
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Michael Ansaldo is veteran consumer and small-business technology journalist. He contributes regularly to TechHive and PCWorld.
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