Words on a Page Writings about writing

A look at two bookmarking tools for writers

Bookmarked pages in books

The web has changed the way in which writers do research. While you can’t find all of the information we might need to complete a writing project, you can find a lot of it.

The problem lies with organizing that research. You can, for example, use a read-it-later tool but sometimes, especially when you’re starting a project, those tools are overkill. A better option can be a bookmarking tool.

A bookmarking tool lets you collect all of your bookmarks in one place that you can access no matter what device you’re using — a desktop or laptop computer, a smartphone, or a tablet.

There are a number of solid bookmarking tools on the web. I’d like to introduce you to two that you might not be familiar with.

Pinboard

Pinboard is one of those classic projects where a software developer (in this case, Maciej Ceg?owski) needed to scratch his own itch. In this case, build an alternative to a popular bookmarking service called Delicious. You can read more about that here. The result was Pinboard, which:

less on socializing, and more on speed and utility. Pinboard tries to offer useful features without getting in your way.

Pinboard is very easy to use. Just log in, click add url, and then type information about the link.

Adding a bookmark in Pinboard

Notice the private and read later options at the bottom? I discussed the latter in another post. private, on the other hand, means just that: only you can see the bookmark. If you uncheck that option, everyone on Pinboard will be able to see it. Whether or not that’s a bad thing is up to you.

You can also add tags to your bookmarks. Tags let you group bookmarks together. For example, you can create a tag for your current project. To view all the bookmarks with that tag, just click the tag on the main page in Pinboard.

Main page in Pinboard

Of course, you don’t always have to log into Pinboard to add a bookmark. There are a number of browser extensions and apps that you can use, too. They let you save a bookmark with a click or tap. For the record, I use the Firefox extension and the Pinput for Pinboard Chrome extension.

Pinboard also lets you take notes. Just click add note and start typing. Your notes aren’t connected to bookmarks, but you can tag them as you would a bookmark. While I don’t use notes myself, I know a couple of writers who do. They find them useful for jotting down information related to project.

Using Pinboard will cost you: $11 (USD) a year. I’ve found, though, that if you use Pinboard frequently it’s worth that much.

Saved.io

Saved.io is the brainchild of web developer Anthony Feint. Feint decided to take a different approach to bookmarking. An approach that’s both simple and minimal.

Instead of copying and pasting a link or using an app or extension to save it, you type saved.io/ in front of the URL in your browser’s address bar and then press Enter.

Adding a bookmark in Saved.io

The new bookmark goes to the top of your list.

A list of saved bookmarks in Saved.io

Organizing your bookmarks can be a bit tricky. You can’t tag your bookmarks, but you can add them to Lists. Lists are like tags. The catch is that you have to specify the list when you save a bookmark — type list.saved.io/ in front the the URL (where list is the name of your list). So, if you have a list called Writing, you’d type writing.saved.io/ to bookmark a link. If the list exists, Saved.io adds your bookmark to it. If the list doesn’t exist, Saved.io creates it.

You can’t create new lists within Saved.io. You can, however, add bookmarks to existing lists by clicking edit beside a bookmark, and then selecting the list.

Adding a bookmark to a list in Saved.io

There are two other ways to save bookmarks. In Saved.io, scroll to the bottom of the page, click the enter a URL to save field, paste the link, and then click save. Or, you can use the bookmarklet or Chrome extension.

Saved.io is free to use. You can also make a one-time payment of $29 (USD) if you want to support development of the tool.

(Note: I’ll be discussing some ways to efficiently and effectively manage your bookmarks in a future post.)

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