How to Highly

A Field Guide to Highlighting the Internet

Welcome to Highly.

Get the Apps

They’re available, free, for iPhone & iPad, Chrome and Safari browsers. Android and Firefox apps are planned.

Table of Contents

Highly has just two features — highlighting and sharing — and this guide is organized accordingly.

  1. Highlighting
  2. Sharing
  3. My Collection
  4. Miscellany

Ask Us Anything

Don’t see what you’re looking for here? Have an idea to improve Highly? Holler on Email, Twitter, Facebook Messenger or our in-app chat. We always holler back.

The perfect app wouldn’t need an instruction manual. No app is perfect.

Approved for All Audiences

Get oriented with these short introductory videos.

  1. How to Highly (on a Computer)
  2. How to Highly (on iOS)
How to Highly (on a Computer)
How to Highly (on iOS)
Chapter 1


Use Highly to highlight anything with a publicly-accessible URL — pretty much every story on the internet.

At the moment, Highly does not support highlighting your e-mail, e-books or e-documents (like PDFs).


Turn Highly On

When Highly is on, your cursor or finger acts as your highlighter. In this mode, each new selection is a highlight that’s saved to your account.

If you’ve selected text in Off mode, it’s automatically highlighted when you switch to on (computer only).

On the Computer, the Highlighter is a Browser Extension

Tap the “!” key on your keyboard (you can just press 1, actually). Or tap the Highly icon in your browser interface, or right click on the story and select “Highlight with Highly”.

  • When Highly is on, the black Highlybar will appear at the bottom of the window.

On iOS, the Highlighter is an App Extension

To turn Highly on, access the iOS share menu by clicking the current app’s Share button (or long-pressing any URL), then select Highly.

  • When Highly is on, the Highlybar will appear at the top of the page.

iOS requires you to manually enable the Highly Extension one time — you’ll be guided through the few steps in the Highly app.

Make Highlights

Highlight. On the web, simply use your cursor (left). On mobile, just tap (right).

On the Computer, Select Text with Your Cursor

Turn Highly on and select text with your cursor. That’s it. (When Highly is enabled, a red dot appears above your cursor.)

To erase your highlight, move your cursor over the highlight to display the highlight menu, then tap the red “!” highlighter icon.

For a computer tutorial, turn on Highly and type “?”.

On iOS, Tap the Text

Turn Highly on and tap the text. Highly automatically selects the sentence, and you can use the comfortably large “handles” to resize the highlight to your liking. Tap elsewhere or scroll and your highlight is saved.

To erase your highlight, tap it to display the highlight menu, then tap ×.

To use the normal (blue) iOS text selector, simply long press as usual to bypass the Highly highlighter.

For an iOS tutorial, visit the app settings page.


When you highlight a highlight, that’s a re-highlight (rehi, ree-high, for short). Re-highlighting saves the highlight into your collection, and it sends the original highlighter a notification. Rehi’s are the fastest way to save great ideas and say thanks to the person who shared them.

Re-Highlight. Before you rehi (left) and after (right).

The ! icon appears red on highlights you’ve made and grey on highlights from others. In summary views, the left edge of your highlight turns red too. And of course, when it’s your highlight too, you’ll see your face.

Rehi counts appear throughout the app as the numbers next to the ! icon.

Re-Highlight in Summary Views (like on the homepage)

  1. On your computer, click the Grey ! icon that appears on the left when you hover over a highlight. Done! To erase, click again.
  2. On iOS, swipe right across a highlight. Done! To erase, swipe right again.

Re-Highlight In Context (on the story)

Tap (or click) the Grey ! icon that appears when you tap (or hover over) a highlight. The icon will turn red, the number will +1, and your avatar will appear. To erase, tap again.

Visibility: Public, Unlisted, and Secret Highlights

Highly highlights are public by default because Highly is built for sharing. You can’t send a friend a highlight they’re not allowed (or able) to see. En masse, these public highlights comprise a useful highlight layer on the web.

Public highlights are terrific, but many people have a few that they’d rather not share. Unlisted and Secret highlights are available to for users who subscribe to Crowd Control.

Crowd Control

Highlight visibility is managed at a story level, and can be updated at any time.


These default highlights are visible on your profile page (, appear in the feeds of people who follow you, and are discoverable by other Highly users when they visit the same story.


Unlisted highlights don’t appear in social context and are only available via a direct link. This way, you can control how narrowly it’s shared (if at all). Great for:

  • collaborating with co-workers (share to Slack, but not in public)
  • wedding planning (don’t wreck the surprise!)
  • sick burns (Tweet the highlight without adding it to your profile)


Secret highlights are only visible to the person who made them.


Highlighter Colors

Red for now.

Block List: Hide Highlights on Sites You Choose

There are sites and situations where highlights don’t make sense. Your blocklist disables highlighting and hides community highlights on sites that you choose.

Block Sites Where Highlighting Doesn’t Make Sense

Some sites are effectively apps (e.g. Google Docs, Outlook). Others are full of private content (e.g. online banking). Add sites like these to your blocklist, and the highlighter won’t get in your way or appear in an unwanted context.

  1. Vist the page you’d like to block.
  2. Turn On Highly (click the icon or type !). The Highly bar appears.
  3. In the Highlybar, select More (•••) → Block Site …

Block Sites Where Community Highlights Don’t Make Sense

Highlights Here presents highlights from the Highly community as you browse the web. If you notice these appearing on sites where you don’t find it useful or appropriate, add that site to your Blocklist.

  1. When Highlights Here appear, move your mouse cursor over the X.
  2. Select Block Site.

Manage your Blocked Sites

To un-block sites, visit your blocklist:

Tricks for Making Highlights

  1. Expand a highlight by overlapping it with a new highlight. Highly combines them automatically.
  2. Don’t worry about getting your cursor in the perfect position. Highly makes sure you got the whole word.
  3. Use Keyboard shortcuts to move super fast in your browser. Type “?” to review these anytime.
! – On & Off
? — Help
S — Share
A — Summary
D — Everybody
H — Settings
Control/Command+C — Copy All
Chapter 2


It’s simple to send or post your Highlights with your favorite apps. And within Highly, your public highlights are shared automatically.

Context is everything, so anytime you share a Highly highlight, it comes packaged with a link that can show your highlights in context on the original story.

Share Anywhere

You can share any highlight with anybody, however you’d like. That’s Highly’s raison d’etre — the reason we exist.

Friends don’t need to join Highly to see your highlights.

For example: when you tweet one of your highlights from a story, the Tweet includes a link to your highlights. Friends following that link arrive at a page with all of your highlights from that story, and a See In Context button.

Friends do need the free Highly app to see highlights in context.

To present highlights in true context, live on the stories, publications and sites they’re made on, the Highly app is needed. Highly apps are free and do not require sign-in to view others’ highlights in context.

Just Tap Share

Every highlight on Highly is accompanied by a share button. Apple devices use the box-and-arrow button. PC devices display the dots-and-lines button. They both work. After tapping Share, you’ll choose a channel.

Share. System-style buttons on iOS, Mac (left) and PC (right).


Share via Highly

Send highlight(s) directly to any Highly user that you follow. Incoming and outgoing highlights appear in your Highly Inbox. When highlights you’ve sent are read, you’ll be notified. (See also: read receipts for better living.)

Share to Social Networks

Post big, beautiful, readable highlights to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest directly. Post to other networks using the highlight’s unique link.

Share with Email

Send a simple, beautiful email and include an optional note.

Share the Link

Every highlight has its own unique URL. Paste it anywhere.


On iOS, tap the “…” icon to access every app in your device’s share menu.

Copy All

On your computer, selecting Command+C (Mac) or Control+C (PC) while viewing highlights in context copies the text of all highlights, along with the Highly URL, to your clipboard.

Highly for iMessage

iMessage users can insert highlights into chats without leaving Messages. Tap the “A”-for-Apps icon to the left of the message composer to access your iMessage Apps. Highly for iMessage is installed automatically with Highly for iOS.

Learn more …

Highly for iMessage

Home: Reading the Column

Your Highly home screen is a feed of stories highlighted by people you follow on Highly. It’s called The Column.

Read your Column to get the gist of the day’s stories, rehi important ideas, and find great readers to follow.

Likewise, your highlights appear in The Column of friends that follow you.

Each post in the column is story, summarized by your friend into its top few highlights. When there are a more than a few highlights, you’ll see a “More” button below the post. Tap More to see all of your friends’ highlights from that story in a story-focused Summary View.

The small faces in your Column and Summary View are the other people who highlighted the story. Tap them to see their highlights.


All public highlights are available for the Highly community to search. So if I search for “Pickle Slicing” and you’ve highlighted a story about that, I’m likely to see your highlights, and you. Unlisted and Secret highlight never appear in search results.

Highlights Here

Hundreds of thousands of stories have already been highlighted by the Highly community. When you visit one of these, you’ll see a Highlighters Here notification. Click the notification to turn on Highly and see community highlights — it’s a great way to get the gist of a story before going deep (or not).

The “Highlights Here” Notification

Swap out this notification for a red badge on the app icon in your Browser App Settings.

Highlights Here is available on the computer only.

Highlights Here has been purposefully designed to protect your privacy. Highly does not know your browsing history and does not want to.
Here’s how it works: when you visit a story, we ask the Highly cloud service if that story has any highlights. This request includes only information about the story and no information about you. Only when you choose to turn Highly “On” on a given story does Highly know what page you’re on. This enables you to save highlights and view your friends’.

Invite Others

To fill your column with a great mix of stories, be sure to follow both your real-life friends and a few recommended readers on Highly. Use Search to find friends who’ve already joined, and connect Twitter & Facebook to cross-reference your networks.

Invite friends easily:

Chapter 3

My Collection

Your highlight collection lives on your Highly page at This unassuming page is your personal archive, a veritable Library of Your Internal Congress. It’s kind of a big deal.

Public visitors to your page can follow you and see your recent public highlights, followers and followees.

When you’re on your own page, you’ll also see your Unlisted and Secret Highlights, along with a link to your Account Settings.

Search Your Collection

Web only. Coming soon to iOS.

Use the Search field on your profile page to search your entire collection of highlights. (Coming soon to iOS.) You can search others’ collections, too.

Gist Lists: Pocket and Instapaper

Web only.

Visit to connect your reading list apps to Highly, and let your people highlight the stories you haven’t made time to read yet.

Crowd Control

Unlimited public highlights are free, but some highlights aren’t for everyone. Crowd Control subscribers can make unlimited Unlisted and Secret highlights, too.

Account Settings

Access and update your account settings from your Highly page.


Update your photo, username, bio and password.


Control the notifications you receive and how they’re delivered.


Add Crowd Control to create Unlisted and Secret highlights, or manage your existing subscription.


Manage your connections to Facebook, Twitter, Pocket and Instapaper. Or request a new service.


Download a file containing your entire highlight collection.

Delete Your Account

Be careful with this button.

Chrome & Safari Browser App Options

Computer only. Access your browser extension options by turning Highly on, opening the More menu in the lower right and choosing Options. In Chrome, you’ll also find Options by right-clicking the Highly button.

  • Show/Hide Hint when Text is Selected: see the “Type ! to Highlight” hint.
  • Show/Hide Highlighters as You Browse: see Highlights Here when you visit stories with community highlights.
  • Enable/Disable Keyboard Shortcuts
Chapter 4


Uncategorized but not unanswered.

Frequently Answered Questions

Where are my highlights?

In your collection:

Who can see my highlights?

Highlights are public by default. For visibility options, add Crowd Control.

Will you build an Android App?

Yes. Sign up for updates here.

Can I highlight my email?

We don’t support this, but it sometimes works anyhow.

Can I highlight books?

We don’t support this, but it sometimes works anyhow.

Can I highlight my texts?

No, sorry.

Can I add public notes to my highlights?

Nope. Instead, add a comment as you share your highlights in other channels.

Can I add private notes to my highlights?

Nope Instead, add a comment and send it to yourself.

Can I highlight in the Facebook app?

Nope. Facebook doesn’t allow extensions within their built-in iOS browser. Instead, tap Open in Safari then enable Highly.

How can I help?

Thanks for asking! Highlight every day, and share them with friends. Heck, invite those friends to highlight, too. And subscribe to Crowd Control.

Who even reads FAQs?

You and I both.


Crowd Control

An optional subscription that enables you to make unlimited Unlisted and Secret highlights.

Highly Bar

This interface appears along the bottom (computer) or top (iOS) of the story when Highly is enabled to indicate whose highlights you’re viewing and where they appear in the story.


Highly maps are small diagrams that indicate highlights’ locations within the story.


Highlighting a highlight.


A view of the story that displays the highlights in context. On the source, of course. You can always switch to the Summary.


A view of the story that displays only the highlights. This view appears in your home Column, for instance. You can always switch to the Source.

The Blocklist

Highly maintains a blocklist of websites where highlighting is impossible or ill-advised. We’d love your help building this list — please send us tips.

Follow Along

Subscribe to Happy Highlighting on Medium for product announcements and process stories.

Follow @HighlyTM on Twitter and Highly on Facebook.

Read On

Thank you for highlighting!