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Saving Sites: Pocket’s Bookmarking App and Its Alternatives

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It’s hard to keep track of all the interesting, important, or just plain fun stuff you find on the internet. You may come across something that you don’t have time to read now or that you want to keep because it will come in handy later. But, as most of us have discovered, bookmarking in a browser for every article and site we want to read later can lead to a huge bookmark mess.

Years ago, I started solving this problem by logging into Pocket, a popular and long-standing app that allows you to save a bookmarked article on a separate server and then retrieve it to read at your leisure using a computer. or a mobile device. Pocket has been around since 2007. Originally called Read It Later, it started life as a Firefox browser extension, eventually became its own app and was acquired by Mozilla in 2017.

In February, however, I (and at least one other staff member here at The edge) opened the app to find a warning that “all existing Pocket accounts must be converted to a Firefox account by June 30, 2022.” The reason, according to Mozilla, is that “Mozilla products use Firefox accounts as a centralized and secure account system.” The company further suggests that this is an advantage for fans of the app, as they can now use two-factor authentication and other security features.

If you’re using Pocket, you’ve probably seen this message.

However, on June 13, 2022, we were notified that the update has been postponed and that the transition is now scheduled for an unspecified date in the future† (We’ll let you know here when that date is set.)

Still, if you’re using Pocket and already have a Firefox account or don’t mind creating one, you can still just convert the account (at the time of writing, the instruction page still lists the now invalid June 30th date) and proceed with Pocket as before. And if for any reason you’re hesitant to add a Firefox account, there are alternative apps you can use to bookmark reading material.

What follows is a description of Pocket and four other bookmarking service apps. Of course, this is just a limited list: they all offer free versions, and they all sync (except one) across a variety of devices, including web browsers, Android devices, and iPhones. There are, of course, other less specific alternatives — note-taking apps like Evernote and Keep, for example, will save and tag article links.

I’ve also linked instructions for each for importing and exporting existing bookmarks; most work in HTML format, and several also accept CSV and other file formats.

Pocket has developed an attractive interface and a variety of functions.

Pocket has developed an attractive interface and a variety of functions.

Pocket has developed a nicely designed interface with many options that allow you to sort your articles by newest or oldest, choose favorites, display them in list or grid format and archive or organize the ones you want to keep via tags. The home screen (currently with a “beta” tag) shows you your most recently saved files along with what it calls “Best of the web”. You can share your articles on social media or recommend them within the app for others to find. There are extensions for a variety of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, and apps for Android and iOS devices.

Paid version: the Premium version ($4.99 per month or $44.99 per year) adds a permanent library of whatever you’ve saved (in case it disappears from the web), as well as full-text search and other features.

Export instructionsImport instructions

Instapaper, which has been around for a while, is a solid, easy-to-use app.

Instapaper, which has been around for a while, is a solid, easy-to-use app.

Like Pocket, Instapaper started out as a simple web add-on and has gone through several iterations (and owners); currently it is part of an independent company called Instant Paper. The web app has a nice simple user interface; although there is no grid view, you can toggle thumbnails on and off. It provides (and syncs between) web browsers (using a Chrome extension, Safari extension, Firefox extension, or bookmarklet), iOS, Android, and Kindle. With a free account, you can store an unlimited number of articles, videos, and other content. You can also highlight text in the articles you’ve saved, take up to five notes per month, and edit the name, link, or summary of each article.

Paid version: The Premium version ($2.99/month or $29.99/year) adds full-text search for your saved documents, unlimited notes, and text-to-speech.

Export instructionsImport instructions (accessible only to registered users)

Raindrop.io is for the serious user and offers a number of options and user interfaces.

Raindrop.io is for the serious user and offers a number of options and user interfaces.

Raindrop may not have the simplicity of Instapaper, but it has a ton of features that can be useful, especially if you’re serious about your information gatherings. The web version allows you to view your articles in a variety of formats, including an interesting one called Moodboard. Like most of the others listed here, the free version of Raindrop offers unlimited bookmarks on unlimited devices; these include apps for Macs, iOS devices, Android devices, and extensions for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge browsers. You can share with others and edit titles, tags, and descriptions.

Paid version: The Pro version ($3/month or $28/year) adds full-text search, cloud backup, and a permanent library of all your bookmarks, among other things.

Export instructionsImport instructions

Paperspan offers easy, simple bookmarks.

Paperspan offers easy, simple bookmarks.

Paperspan is an old fashioned, simple app that is fine if you want a really basic bookmarking service. You can create separate folders for your saved bookmarks, but that’s about it. Unlike the other three services listed here, there are no fancy graphics, no highlights, no choices between lists and grids – you don’t even read the article in the app, just get redirected to the original article. Most readers will probably miss those other features, but if you like the basics you might want to give it a try.

Paid version: no

Export Instructions – Import Instructions (Click “Import” in the side menu)

Library page

Choose from your queue, favorites, highlights or archived articles.

Queue page

The interface is clean and easy to navigate.

Matter is a brand new, still in development app that is currently only available for iOS devices and for the web. (There are extensions for the Chrome, Safari, and Firefox browsers, and an Android app is promised in the future.) Once geared towards following social media favorites and finding new influencers, the app is more streamlined and focused on content. You can add your email address to get your newsletters in the app; follow specific Twitter writers via email, Pocket, or Instapaper; browse the staff choices; or send your articles to Kindle or Notion. You can also import your existing Pocket or Instapaper libraries. Currently the app is free with no premium tiers. All in all, it’s an interesting app with potential.

Export Instructions: select in the app Settings > Account > Export your data

Import instructions: select in the app Settings > Connect accounts > Pocket

Update June 13, 2022, 4:20 PM ET: This article was originally published on February 24, 2022. It has been updated to explain that Pocket’s conversion has been delayed and to make changes to the description of the matter.

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