Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
There’s no shortage of ways to save links: online bookmarking services like Tagpacker, read-it-later services like Pocket, or even just the native bookmark feature in your browser. Out of these, what’s the best way to save links?
Let’s make an important distinction to point out right off the bat.
Pocket is not a bookmarking service. Its creators view it as a reading list where you keep track of the many online posts you want to read. Once you finish an article, you can archive or delete it.
Bookmarks, on the other hand, are a permanent fixture in your browser. These are links you find yourself going back to on a regular basis, without the intention of discarding them.
To use Pocket as a convenient bookmarking system, tag and organize items to keep your read-it-later stock tidy. And with “read-it-later,” you can still view posts even if they are deleted from the web. (Provided, the articles can be viewed directly from within Pocket rather than being redirected to the original URL.)
So why would you use Pocket over a bookmarking service? And in what ways does Pocket fall short?
Pocket gives you an interface not only to keep track of the links you’re saving, but also for a clean reading experience. When you save links to Pocket, your links can be viewed either as a list or as a grid.
Pocket really excels in this. It offers articles and blog posts in a pared down, ad-free interface. This makes for a more pleasant reading experience, and offers a consistent experience across devices.
On the other hand, browser bookmarks out of the box can only be seen as a list in your browser. To read a link, you’ll have to click on it and open it up in a new window. If the content at that link has been deleted, it’s lost to you.
Google Chrome’s browser extension Bookmark Manager does give users a visual interface similar to your Pocket reading list. After installing the extension, your Bookmarks Manger will be transformed.
You can view your bookmarks as a grid with thumbnail photos. But clicking on those links still opens them up on their original page. (To pull this interface up, you can also use the Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + B keyboard shortcut.)
With Pocket, you don’t have to take any extra steps. But the fact that Google Bookmarks does offer a Google-built option puts the two options on par with one another makes it a decent contender.
Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge, on the other hand, offer users a standard list of bookmarks that can be organized into folders but little else in the way of native customization. If these are your browsers of choice, you may be able to find third-party apps or add-ons that can give you that added functionality.
Winners: Pocket and Google Bookmarks Manager.
Pocket’s organization tools are limited to tagging and archiving. Pocket also automatically organizes your saved links into three categories: Articles, Videos, and Images.
Bookmarks on just about any browser can be organized into folders. You can also place the bookmarks you use most often right in front of you in your bookmarks bar. The rest will be hidden in the bookmarks menu. All browsers have a bookmarks manager that make it relatively easy to drag and drop bookmarks in and out of folders.
Winner: It’s a toss-up. This really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want something that is temporary but easily searchable, Pocket is your best bet. If you want a permanent resource of links, go for a bookmark manager instead.
Out of the box, Pocket works across several different platforms with extensions and apps available for every major browser, mobile, and tablet. When you save a story in your web browser, it’s instantly available on your phone. Cross platform access on Pocket is easy to use whether you’re tech-savvy or have a harder time getting web apps to work for you.
With browser bookmarks, you can get cross platform access but it takes a little bit more work. With Google Chrome and Firefox, you can sync your account across machines by logging into the browser on all the machines and mobile apps you use.
In Chrome, sync your mobile bookmarks and view them from your desktop. Microsoft Edge can easily sync bookmarks (“favorites”), but only across Windows 10 devices. Safari users can easily sync bookmarks across Apple devices.
There are intricate syncing solutions available for most browsers, but if you want a simple solution, Pocket and Chrome offer some easy-to-use options.
Winner: Pocket for its plug-and-play setup.
Pocket gives you offline access to articles you’ve saved in their mobile and tablet apps. You’ll just want to be sure to open up the app when you’re connected to Wi-Fi to download them. This way you can keep up with your reading list when you’re traveling and are out of range of a Wi-Fi or data signal, or when you don’t want to use up your data by loading your reading list.
This is one of the fundamental ways in which Pocket differs from bookmarking and is a clear advantage when it comes to using the service.
With Pocket you can export all your bookmarks as one HTML file. This file can be used to import your links elsewhere if you decide you no longer want to use Pocket.
With Chrome bookmarks, you get a little bit more control over how you can export your links. With Google’s Bookmark Manager you can export bookmarks by folder rather than the entire list. (You could use this method as a workaround to share a folder of links with someone else.)
Firefox and Microsoft Edge also make it easy to export bookmarks to import them elsewhere. Safari makes exporting bookmarks so difficult that it shouldn’t even be considered if you’re a frequent bookmark user and don’t want to be locked into this choice.
Winner: Google Bookmarks for the most control over how to export your bookmarks.
On Pocket, you can share individual stories with other Pocket users — and you can share one story with multiple users or email addresses simultaneously. Pocket also makes it easy to share directly to Twitter, Facebook, or to send the link to Buffer. A relatively new feature is the ability to share “recommended reads,” allowing you to selectively share items from your reading list to your public Pocket profile.
You can’t share your entire Pocket list without sharing access to your Pocket account itself or without relying on a third-party service like SharedList [No Longer Available].
With native browser bookmarks, there are no sharing options. You’re simply going to have to open up the link and share it however you would any other link from your browser.
But with third party bookmarking services you can give access to your sharing list instantly with the public or contacts. For example, you can save your bookmarks online to a public list on a service like Tagpacker — and your friends or contacts don’t have to have a Tagpacker account to view the links.
Winner: It all depends on what you want to do. Want to easily share one link? Pocket is the better option. Want to share your entire list of links, a third party bookmarking service may be for you.
Pocket recently introduced features that make it easy to explore the most popular stories being saved by others. This feature is great in that it points you to more good content to discover. That said, it’s not necessarily tailored to your reading habits, although you can search Pocket by topic.
With local browser bookmarks, there is no comparable discovery feature, so if you want to find out what other people are bookmarking, you’re going to have to take your search to an online bookmarking service like Tagpacker or StumbleUpon.
Winner: Pocket because it works out of the box without any third-party services.
To save links to Pocket you can use a bookmarklet, email, browser extensions, and third party app integration. Pocket’s service is integrated with a long list of third-party apps.
This is useful because you can easily save content from a variety of apps directly into your Pocket list. This includes popular reading apps like Flipboard, social media apps like Tweetbot, and recipe apps like Epicurious.
To save bookmarks to Chrome, you can do so through native browser options, browser extensions, or using Chrome’s sync feature. Mobile users can install Chrome on their phones and make sure that Chrome is included in their sharing options.
For example, if you find an interesting link on Twitter for iOS, tap and hold the link until the Share Via button shows up. If Chrome isn’t listed in the apps, scroll to the end of the list and tap More. Scroll to Chrome on the list of apps, and toggle it on. Now when you go to save the link, you can select Chrome and tap Add to bookmarks.
You will, of course, have to log into Chrome on your iPhone and ensure that syncing between devices is turned on. If your bookmarks are a little unruly, it’s going to be hard to figure out where the link was saved, but you can simply search for the link using the Chrome Bookmark Manager if you have it installed on Chrome.
Again, Pocket makes it third-party app integration extremely straightforward so unless you want to tinker and look for options to sync between your bookmarks and other apps, you’ll probably prefer to use the read it later service.
Winner: Pocket because of the sheer variety in ways to save links.
Pocket and Chrome Dominate
Comparing Pocket and bookmarks can sometimes be like comparing apples to oranges. They just weren’t intended for the same use. But as with anything online, you can tweak web apps or browser features to work for you.
Pocket makes it incredibly easy to save and share links across devices in a seamless way. It’s well integrated with other apps, and you can easily find a way to fit the online service into your daily routine, using the link-saving features the way you see fit.
If you’re a die-hard Chrome fan, you might find that its features and extensions have you covered, and you don’t need to put your links in multiple places. Being able to access all of your links no matter where you are is an incredibly useful feature, and for that reason, both Chrome Bookmarks and Pocket are great in their own way.
Do you use Pocket as a bookmarking service or do you find it unwieldy? Do you prefer Google Chrome’s Bookmark Manager extension? And for those of you who prefer to stick to Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge, do their bookmarking features keep you covered?