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Read Later Services: What You Can Do with Them

Have you ever wanted to save an article for later while browsing the net and not know what to do? Well there are several apps for that, and they are called Read Later Services. Many of them have the ability to save web pages from the internet to a cloud service, and you can even read it while you are offline within the app.
But Read Later Services like Pocket, Instapaper, and — to an extent — Apple’s Reading List built in Safari can do so much more than just save an article to read later. It can be a powerful tool if you use it the right way.

Here are some uses you can do with your Read Later Service of choice.

It saves everything in one place

While this may seem like an obvious thing, you would be surprised how so many people just save articles they want to read later. Instead of making this a catch-all for just your reading list of articles, think of this as a bucket to save all the information on the internet that you want to save. Have a recipe you might want to make? What about a cool tool you can use for your science class homework? Once you make that small pivot in your way of thinking on what read later apps can do the uses get a lot bigger.

One way you can make this happen is asking yourself if you want to save this thing for later. It doesn’t have to be an immediate thing to read, it can be anything you may want to consume later or show someone else when you see them next. If the answer to this question is “yes,” or even a “maybe” then just send that link to your service of choice and be at peace knowing you have that saved and you won’t have to pray to the Google gods your random online search will find what you’re looking for later.

Send Saved Links to Family as Tech Support

Speaking of changing your mindset, one thing that I found great is saving articles specifically for when your friends or family may need help on a common problem. instead of constantly searching for that one article that helps your friends figure out how to make an album in Photos, you can just save a link to an article that does that for you and send it whenever someone needs your help.

Being the tech-support for my immediate family I have several articles I find every time a new version of iOS comes out that I save and send whenever they call, text or email me with questions regarding their phones and/or tablets.

You can research much more effectively

If you are a college student, or even just like to research topics that you’re interested in, you know the foibles of keeping things organized. With read later services, you can not only save the things you want to use as sources but you can also organize them to your heart’s content.

While Instapaper has folders and Pocket has tags, they both effectively get the same job done. You are able to put these articles, files, or online papers in your specific buckets to help you find them layer with ease.

The one thing I like more about Pocket than Instapaper is they use tags over folders. The reason this can be great, especially for research papers, is because it allows you to tag it with multiple things. You’re able to tag it as the broad topic of your research paper, and then add a secondary tag labeling it as the specific thing in your paper that you can reference later.

With Instapaper you can only have one folder and no sub-folders, meaning you only get one level of organization. So, depending on how in depth your research may become the flexibility Pocket has may be more suitable for you.

Highlighting and Notes

This is a great perk, except it is only native to Instapaper. Sadly, Pocket has its own flaws. One being how markup and highlighting is something that they never quite got into.

Notes and Highlighting function on Instapaper

If you are using Instapaper, you have the ability to highlight specific text, with several color options as well so if you want to highlight specific things in one color and other things in another color you can, but you can even add notes to the highlighted sections for “future you” to know what made you gravitate to that text.

It is truly a time-saver if you have some forethought and discipline. I have found myself going to Instapaper for large articles I want to sift through later specifically for the highlighting feature. I find the things I want to use for articles, research papers, and more and highlighting them and adding notes when needed. The ability to add information like this for you to go over later is so valuable once you try it you will never want to go back.

Email to Your Read Later Service

Finally, you don’t just have to save articles from the web with these service, you can all send emails as well.

With Pocket, you get a specific email that you can forward emails to and save to further reading. So, if you sign up for an email newsletter that sends you daily tips or something akin to that you can just forward it to Pocket and clear it from your inbox making the digital clutter significantly less.

If you have a ton of emails you plan to read that has been collecting dust you can change the scenery and allow yourself to no longer stress about how you haven’t made time to read whatever was in that email.


So, whether it is Pocket, Instapaper, or even Safari’s Reading list you have the power to save, organize, and plan to read everything you need to and save what you want.

If you have any tips or other read later services me missed in this review please let us know in the comments below.

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