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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 Too Many Tabs? Firefox Add-ons to manage a TAB JAM Too Many Tabs? Firefox Add-ons to manage a TAB JAM Read More 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 :

ril1.gif

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 :

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ril2.gif

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 :

ril3.gif

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 :

ril4.gif

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.

ril5.gif

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.

  1. Gilgamesh
    June 8, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    'Dog Ears' is a great add on for this type of use. I use that in addition to 'All Customized Links', 'Bookmarks Toolbar Folder' and 'Bookmarks' itself.

  2. l3utterfish
    October 16, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I also prefer Instapaper... because I can use it in several computers.

  3. rdas7
    July 22, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Check out Instapaper.com — does the same thing, without resorting to plugins (and accessible from anywhere)

  4. Dennis
    May 9, 2008 at 9:03 am

    The thing with instapaper though is that you can "save" a page from one computer and then "read it later" from any other and that makes it more useful.

  5. DWiner
    May 5, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I personally prefer clipmarks.com where I clip and store articles for reading later.

  6. Nate
    February 7, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Thanks Mark, I like the idea of using the favicons! I'll keep you posted on any new updates in the future.

  7. Syahid A.
    February 7, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Marking something to read later is nice but one needs to really understand what "Read it later" means or else it will become "Bookmark and Forget". Instapaper looks awesome but you are right, it depends on the availability of that site.

  8. beautiful minds
    February 7, 2008 at 4:56 am

    hei.. Thanks for all hese info's dear.. These things are an assurance that the bookmark i've made is worth a lot. :)

  9. Manuel
    February 7, 2008 at 3:37 am

    I am using the same system but with the delicious Firefox plugin.
    I have a tag "readlater" that I assign to everything I want to read if I have a spare minute.
    Of course I end up with far to many items in there but it's a good way to make sure you never lose an interesting article you might want to read later...
    Just make sure you go through the list at least once a week and clear everything read or outdated.

  10. Nate
    February 6, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Hey Mark, thanks for the comments. It's great to hear about people using the extension.

    If you ever run into any bugs or have any suggestions for future updates, drop me a line!

    • Mark O'Neill
      February 7, 2008 at 5:18 am

      Hi Nate

      I will email you these comments but I thought I would post them here too so the other readers can chip in with their own comments.

      There's two bugs which are a little annoying. One is that sometimes when you bookmark a link with RIL, the extension changes the link to something else later! So say I bookmark Make Use Of and then 10 minutes later I visit Gmail. The Make Use of link becomes the Gmail link and takes the Gmail favicon - but the description of the link is still Make Use of! So I click on the link expecting to be taken to Make Use of and instead it takes me to Gmail!

      This doesn't happen all the time - just occasionally.

      The other bug is that when you click on the button to remove a link from the list, it doesn't remove it. Rather, it adds the link again to the list. So you end up with two identical links. When I have a link that won't remove itself, I end up having to activate the Firefox bookmarks menu and manually delete the links there.

      One feature I would love to see therefore is the ability to right-click and manually delete links from the RIL extension. Another feature would be the ability to view the site's favicon inside RIL. If I have lots of links, I can normally find a particular link quickly by looking for the favicon.

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