Countless times, I have come across a piece of long-form writing that I just don’t have time to read at that moment. I used to just keep the link in question open in a tab for days and never actually get around to reading it. Sometimes I would bookmark it using Delicious, which helped me get back to the site with the article but did nothing to encourage me to read.
I recently started using Instapaper, a neat service from Marco Arment that helps one save articles and other web pages for reading later. In addition to bookmarking articles with the incredibly simple Read Later bookmarklet, Instapaper can extract text from articles and remove cruft like navigation and ads from the content you’re interested in. These tools are available on the Instapaper Extras page. Now, with a simple click, articles are saved to a list where you can easily access either the original site or just the article text.
There are a bunch of other helpful extras, too. Kindle users can download a compatible file that contains their articles, complete with sections and a table of contents. There are tons of apps with Instapaper support for OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android. I use the Instapaper iOS app on both my iPad and my iPhone. It’s great for catching up on my reading while traveling without an internet connection. The latest version offers a great progress indicator and the ability to automatically switch to dark mode based on the sunset times in your location.
Instapaper offers cool options for people who publish content, too. There’s a public settings page for the text parser so people can tweak how Instapaper extracts text from articles on sites that have lots of ads or extraneous content. Publishers can explicitly tell Instapaper which elements to use as the title and text by adding
instapaper_body classes to those elements, respectively. I have added the appropriate classes to articles on this site.
There’s also a “Read Later” button that I have added to each of the articles on this site. If you’re logged in to Instapaper, you can quickly save the current article with just one click.
Marco Arment actively updates and writes about the Instapaper service, and I look forward to seeing what’s to come for this excellent tool.