It's an age-old problem: you stumble on an article or video, or have one forwarded to you by friends on social media or email, and it looks like just the kind of thing you want to read…later.
That's what "read-it-later" (aka bookmarking) services are all about. Grab an article or Twitter thread you want to read or video you want to watch, and these services make it a breeze to capture and access later.
The "reading" part is key here. Website formatting on mobile isn't always optimal for consumption by human eyeballs. Services like these often reformat saved content so it's much easier to parse and absorb at your leisure; sometimes even without an internet connection. Best of all, you bookmark the article on one device, like your PC, and it's easily accessible later on a different device, like a smartphone for the commute home.
The hard part is narrowing down which service gets your saves. Some services are great at just one thing: Pinterest focuses on images, while note-taking services like Evernote, OneNote and Google Keep save your content, but none really emphasize reading/viewing things later. The options below, however, are best for pure readability.
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Pocket is so intertwined with the notion of reading things later that it actually began with the moniker of Read It Later. It started on desktops, but naturally made the move to mobile, and is now built into plenty of apps like Flipboard and desktop browsers that support add-ins.
Download Pocket for iPhone, for example, and save things across iOS by enabling the Share Extension and tapping the Share button (). There's no standard for a share button in this mixed-up digital world, so on Android it looks like this: . You can also add stuff by mailing it to [email protected] from your registered email address, or using the bookmarklet extension on your PC's browser.
The whole point remains to read stuff in the app later, but Pocket handles more than just words. It can even store links to videos, and you can categorize articles for organization.
Pocket got built directly into Mozilla Firefox in 2015 with an integrated button for quick saves, and earlier this year, the Mozilla Corporation bought Pocket. But you can still access it in competing browsers.
Like its name might imply, Instapaper is about readability. Save content to the site and go back later to read it in clean type. You save items with bookmarklets on desktop browsers, by sending an email to a personalized address that Instapaper creates for you, using IFTTT applets, or from apps that support it, like Flipboard, Twitter, and many more.
Because Instapaper has a tight focus on text readability, it's also become known for its Send to Kindle feature—that way you're reading later on your most readable device. (Sadly, Instapaper doesn't support PDFs.) But guess what? Instapaper does support YouTube videos.
iOS Reading List
This one is just for Apple users. Hidden in the Safari browser that comes with iOS is Reading List, a place where you can store articles to read later. It's like a bookmark that stores the whole thing on iCloud for access later (so you still need an internet connection). When you see something worth reading later, click the Share button and look for the icon that looks like pince-nez glasses labeled, naturally, Add to Reading Later.
iOS Reading List is also a channel in IFTTT, so you can create applets to automatically toss future reading into the list without ever visiting the Safari browser. It could be anything from tweets to Craigslist ads to stuff you save in other read-it-later services like Pocket and Instapaper.
You access the Reading List by hitting the bookmarks button in Safari (it looks like an open book) and the glasses icon at the top. You can swipe left on any entry to delete it or mark it as unread or read. If it's "read" it disappears until you click Show All at the bottom; otherwise only Unread articles are listed.
Want real readability? Whether the article is from Reading List or live on the web, look at the top of the Safari screen. If the page is compatible (not all of them are), in the address bar you'll see an icon consisting of four horizontal lines. Click it and you enter Reader Mode. It hides all the extraneous stuff—like ads and images. All you get is clean, clear, readable text. Click the font icon (two AAs of differing heights) on the other end of the address bar to adjust the font size, type face, and even the background color (such as a sepia or reverse type, if you like that). Click the Reader Mode icon again any time to switch instantly back to the original page.
Chrome Reading List
Google Chrome added its own offline-accessible Reading List to its iOS version earlier this year. It works a lot like Safari's Reading List, but stores the page you want locally so you can read it whenever you want, connected or not. The steps are much the same: on a page you want to read later, click the vertical ellipsis menu (), then the Share icon (), and look for the Chrome () icon labeled Read Later. You access Reading List from that same menu; the selection turns blue if you have new entries.
On Chrome for Android, there's a similar feature, but the nomenclature is completely different: they want you to blatantly download the page. You hit the menu and click the download button (). The page is then stored on the Android device locally. Access it from > Downloads. You can tell it works because the page loads fast, and is marked "Offline" at the top.
This feature is great, but here's what sucks: even if you use the same Google account with all your Chrome browser installations across multiple operating systems, Chrome/Google does not synchronize these Reading List/Download entries so you can get to them in multiple spots. Also, they don't do anything to make it more readable—they're just reloads of the mobile site page you originally had on the screen.
Send To Kindle
There's no better way to read electronically than on an actual Amazon Kindle e-reader, preferably the Kindle Paperwhite. Thankfully, it's not just for reading books you buy on Amazon only. You can send all sort of online articles and stories and more to your Kindle.
Visit the Send to Kindle page of Amazon and you'll see many options. There are apps for Windows and Mac desktops plus an Android App that make it easy to send files, but not website articles. For that, get the extensions for the Chrome and Firefox browsers; with a click you can see how the formatting will look and adjust the title/author info before sending the info on to your Kindle account. And don't forget, sending items to Kindle from Instapaper is a breeze (and gives you a backup on your articles)
Apple iOS users can get in on Kindle sending if they have the Kindle app installed—then a Send to Kindle option appears when you click the Share button in all browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. To activate Send to Kindle in iOS, click Share, then go to the More () button.
The readability is great, but the organization of Kindle files is somewhat of a disaster. The Kindle and Kindle apps try to organize things for you, typically with a "last read is most important" scheme, and it may be hard to find articles—it's definitely hard to delete those you no longer want in the account. Enter the Amazon Digital Content and Devices page on a desktop to make sense of it. You'll find your uploads by going to the Show menu, then select Docs.