Beyond Bookmarks: The 6 Best Read-it-Later Apps
It happens every day — you’re in the middle of working on something but get distracted by a notification. Perhaps you got an email from a friend telling you to read this interesting article. Maybe you checked a favorite blog and see a post that catches your attention, or stumbled across a site you know you’ll want to check again in the future. There’s something to see, but you don’t have time to do so right now.
It’s easy for good content to vanish into the black hole of the internet. Don’t. Bookmark it instead.
Read-it-Later apps are the best way to save those links people send you via email and Facebook. Instead of reading something now, you’ll save it to your app of choice and read it, well, later when you have time.
Unlike bookmarking apps, these tools aren’t designed to store your favorite sites forever. They can do that, but they’re best at saving articles and videos for you to look at later. You’ll add links throughout the day then open the app when you have some free time. And once you’ve read or watched that content, you’ll archive it to clear out your reading list — just like you check off tasks in a to-do list app.
Here are the best apps to save stuff to read later.
Pocket (Android, iOS, Mac, Chrome, Web)
For a reading checklist
There are many ways to get your content into Pocket, including an extension and bookmarklets for most browsers, and mobile apps to add links on the go. When you come across an article, video, or image you want to view later, you can add it to Pocket with a single click or tap.
Within Pocket, you can see all of your content in a list or grid view. Clicking on an article will open it up in a distraction-free view for reading. Pocket strips out the ads, sidebars, and other extra elements of a webpage to focus on the text, images, and videos — and lets you read offline in its mobile, desktop, or Chrome apps. You will, however, want to make sure you’ve recently opened the app with an available internet connection since that’s how it syncs the latest saved items for offline viewing.
Once you’re done reading a piece, tap the checkmark to archive it to clear out your reading list one item at a time. Star it to save it as a favorite, or tap the share button to send the link to anyone else.
- Pocket Pricing: Free; $4.99/month Pocket Premium for a permanent personal backup of the articles you’ve saved, suggested tags, full-text search, and more.
- See Pocket’s Zapier Integrations to automatically save links from your favorite apps
- For a deeper look at Pocket’s features and pricing, check out our Pocket review.
Instapaper (Android, iOS, Web)
For a newspaper-like reading experience
To improve the reading experience, Instapaper takes your content and makes it look like a newspaper, trimming articles to their most basic form. You can choose from a selection of professional typefaces, and adjust the font size and background color to your liking. While you’re reading, you can also highlight important lines or add notes for future reference. And if you’d rather read on your Kindle, Instapaper can automatically email a bundle of your articles to your Kindle every day.
Like Pocket, Instapaper lets you save content with an extension or bookmarklet. You can organize articles into folders or search through their full text, and read them offline in mobile apps. If you have some free time to spare and don’t know what to read, the Browse section highlights articles chosen by editors or shared by your friends for a curated reading list.
Having trouble finding time to read? Instapaper includes a really cool speed reading tool to help you read faster. Instead of displaying the whole article, individual words flash on the screen. You can adjust the words-per-minute rate based on your reading speed, and Instapaper will tell you how long it’ll take you to finish the article. Or, you can just close your eyes and listen, with Instapaper’s mobile apps text to voice tool.
Flipboard (Android, iOS, Windows, Web)
For a beautiful layout of content
While other Read it Later apps focus on a simple reading experience, Flipboard provides a more visual experience. When you save an article to Flipboard, you add it to a “Magazine” or collections of stories that are grouped by topic and laid out with beautiful images and titles.
While you can see a preview of the article, Flipboard doesn’t actually cache any content to its site. Instead, it sends you back to the original webpage so you can read the content there.
Flipboard is also a bit more of a social network. You can follow topics, people, and other magazines, and it recommends articles it things you’ll find interesting every time you open it. It’s a great way to organize the things you want to read — and to share those with others.
Flipboard Pricing: Free
Diigo (Android, iOS, Chrome, Web)
For organizing online research
You don’t always need the full page. Sometimes you just need a quote or three. Diigo is a reading later app designed for those research projects. You can save web pages and PDFs to your library, highlighting anything you need to remember and adding notes for your own reference.
Diigo will put those in your Unread list where you can quickly browse through every highlighted phrase. Turn on its Outline mode to drag-and-drop those quotes into an article outline, then add your own text and you’ll have your next essay or blog post half finished without having to jump back and forth between a dozen tabs.
Diigo Pricing: Free for 500 bookmarks and 100 highlights with ads; from $40/year for unlimited bookmarks, page backups, and no ads
Safari Reading List (iOS, Mac)
For simple offline reading on Apple devices
If you don’t need a dedicated app for your content collection, you can always go with Safari’s Reading List. Built into Apple’s Safari browser, you don’t need to download anything or remember another login. When browsing the web using Safari on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, tap the Share icon and select “Add to Reading List.” Safari will save a copy of the webpage so you can view it offline.
The articles are saved chronologically and you can search the title and URL. Then, tap the reading view button in the left of your address bar to see the article in a clean, Instapaper-style reading view. There are no organizational tools, but it’s meant to be simple and quick, which may just be what you’re looking for.
Safari Reading List Pricing: Free on Apple devices
Send to Kindle (Android, iOS, Chrome, Windows, Mac)
For reading articles alongside your eBooks
Prefer to do your reading on a Kindle, or in the Kindle apps on your Phone? Amazon’s Send to Kindle tool lets you save articles and downloadable eBooks directly your Kindle account. From your browser, you can preview the article as it’d look on Kindle for a simplified reading experience, then save it to Kindle to read later.
Have a file you want to read later? Just download the Send to Kindle desktop apps to save it to Kindle, or use your Kindle email address to forward it to your reading queue.
Send to Kindle Pricing: Free with a Kindle device or Kindle apps
Want a way to follow your favorite websites and keep up with everything they publish? Sounds like you need an RSS feed reader app. Check out our roundup of the 12 best RSS apps to find the perfect way to keep up with your favorite sites.