When I go through my RSS feeds every morning looking for story leads, I end up finding approximately 10-20 stories that I see some possibilities in. But I don’t want to end up with a Firefox tab jam having those 10-20 tabs constantly open. When that happens, browser organisation gets shot to hell and my overall productivity goes down as a result.
So what’s the solution? Build up a reading list for later with the Firefox “Read It Later” extension. This instantly became my number one Firefox extension of all time, so much so that I eventually removed the bookmarks menu from Firefox to use the RIN extension exclusively.
When you install the extension, you end up with two small buttons on your browser which you can drag onto another toolbar if you wish :
The one on the left with the arrow is what you click to add something to your reading list and the right hand box is your actual reading list which you open by clicking on it.
So say you are browsing through your RSS feeds one day and you open some interesting stories in different tabs. You have no time to read them right now so you want to save them to your reading list for later. Just click the left hand arrow tab. You will then see that the arrow has changed colour from green to red :
Or you can right-click on the page with your mouse where you will find an option in the menu to bookmark the page.
Now later when you want to read that page again, you can either click the reading list button to be taken to the first link on the list or to be taken to a random post on the list (a bit like Stumbleupon I suppose). Or just expand the list manually with your mouse and click on the link you’re looking for :
Do you like that article that you’re reading? Then by clicking the red arrow button, you can then bookmark the link on various popular social networking sites :
When you have finished reading the page and you want to remove it from your reading list, just click that left hand arrow button again and watch the arrow change from red back to green again. The link is now off your list.
The extension is beta so it does tend to be a little buggy sometimes but on the whole this is an excellent tool which will rapidly become indispensable if you do a lot of online reading.
Here are two other useful features :
Integration into your Firefox bookmarks : your reading list is also integrated into your Firefox bookmarks menu. So if you use FoxMarks, you could access your reading list on other computers.
Offline viewing : I haven’t personally tried this one yet but it looks to be something like Google Gears. You can download copies of each webpage on your reading list onto your PC for offline viewing.
Two similar websites which perform the same service are ToRead and InstaPaper. However, I don’t like these services. With ToRead, a copy of the page is emailed to you which is not good if you’re already suffering from an overloaded email inbox (which may result in you losing the actual email when you need it the most). Or what if the email hits your spam folder and you don’t realise it? It’s gone for good.
InstaPaper is also not ideal in my opinion because you are reliant on the InstaPaper site always being accessible when you need it. If the site goes down for any reason, you can’t access your reading list.
With the Read It Later extension, the links are always stored on your own computer until you remove them.