The Internet is a nearly bottomless pit of inspiration, from articles, to pictures, to video. Pocket stands out in a seemingly endless sea of link organizers as a tool that’s useful and simple to use, anytime, anywhere.
In the old days, if you wanted to collect ideas from the internet — say, articles on topics you’d like to discuss on your blog, you would generally do one of two things: Copy and paste the URLs into a Word doc or spreadsheet, or bookmark them in a designated folder in your browser.
Pocket takes a cue from the simple bookmark and makes it more functional.
Once upon a time, bookmarking was straightforward: You’d tell your browser to save a URL in a folder of saved URLs. In the days before Google auto completed commonly-used URLs and displayed your frequently-visited sites automatically, bookmarking was probably your browser’s most important feature — one you most likely still use.
Old-style bookmarks built in to browsers haven’t changed much. They’re easier to organize, and, thankfully, can follow you from browser to browser. But old-fashioned bookmarks aren’t designed for the way we use the internet today.
Keeping Ideas at Hand
The first most important thing about Pocket is its portability, a feature that’s becoming pretty much mandatory for applications. You can use Pocket from your laptop, then pick up your phone or tablet, open the app, and everything is right there.
The layout of Pocket is similar to the extremely popular Pinterest model, but it functions differently. While Pinterest is an image-based social media platform, Pocket is designed as a personal organizer of all kinds of links, including text.
Not only does Pocket make it easy to bookmark articles to read later, it makes it easy to archive the ones you may want to refer back to, without clogging up your Pocket Dash.
Even better, you can easily share items you’ve saved to your Pocket via social media or email.
Getting Started With Pocket
Start by creating a web account at getpocket.com. You can sign up with your Google account, or create a username and password. You’ll immediately be taken to your brand new (and empty) Pocket dash.
The next thing you’ll need, if you plan to use pocket with a browser like Chrome, is to install the browser extension. (This isn’t a total necessity, as you can add URLs on your Pocket dash by clicking the “+” at the top of the page — but the extension will save you a lot of time).
The Pocket extension adds a Pocket icon to your browser’s task bar. As you browse the internet, either by search or social media. you can quickly save links you want to return to by clicking the icon.
Once saved, you can add tags right from the extension popup. This is an optional step, but one you should use. sorting through your saved items is exponentially easier if you’ve taken the five seconds to tag them. Some useful tags include “blog ideas,” “inspiration,” and “share later.”
You can save a few seconds by allowing Pocket to automatically sort saved items into Article, Video, and Image categories.
In other words, you don’t have to tag videos “video.”
The extension also automatically integrates with a few commonly-used platforms, including Twitter, Yahoo, Reddit, and Hacker News.
When you visit one of these sites on the browser, you’ll see Pocket icons right on the page:
Clicking the icon will instantly add the item (in this case a tweet) to your Pocket, where it can then be tagged and sorted as you like.
If you don’t want this feature, it can be disabled by going to More Tools > Extensions in Chrome. Under the Pocket icon, you’ll see an Options link, which will allow you to deselect the service you do not want integrated with Pocket.
Sharing from Pocket
If you find an article that looks like a promising piece of content for one of your social media sites, but you don’t have time to read it right away, save it to pocket. When you have the time, the article will be easily accessible.
If you decide the article is a good fit for your social media, you can share right from your Pocket dash. Just click the arrow Share icon under the thumbnail. You can select from Twitter, Facebook, or Buffer — or you can send the item by email.
Once you’re done with the item, you can either delete it by clicking the trash icon, or you can archive it by clicking on the checkmark.
Marking your Favorites
Tags are the best way to sort on Pocket, but there are other options. To keep more urgent or frequently-visited items easily accessible, you can add them to your Favourites by clicking the star under the thumbnail. All of your favorites can be quickly isolated by clicking on Favourites on the sidebar.
Need to archive, favorite, or add a tag to several items at once? The bulk edit feature (a small pencil icon on the upper right of the web screen) allows you to select any number of items and edit them at once.
Connecting to Your Devices
No matter how many devices you have, you can connect them all with Pocket, so you can save, read, and share content from anywhere. Pocket has apps for iPhone, Ipad, Android, and Kindle Fire.
Once you’ve signed in to your apps, your Pocket is fully mobile.
Pocket apps work in the same way as the web-based pocket. Of course, any changes you make in the app will be reflected on the web.
Getting More Out of Pocket
One of the great things about Pocket is that it’s compatible with IFTTT, the online service that connects different applications together, making them even more functional. Some handy recipes include:
- Add videos you’ve favourited on Youtube to Pocket
- Share items you favourite in Pocket to Facebook
- Have popular stories from the New York Times saved to Pocket daily
- Add saved Reddit posts to Pocket
- Save articles saved in Feedly to Pocket
- Save items you’ve labelled “pocket” in Gmail to Pocket
- Log items you’ve read in Pocket to Google Drive
- Automatically save Vimeo Staff Picks to Pocket
- When you favourite on Flickr, send it to Pocket
One of the best Pocket ITFFF’s recipes allows you to convert Pocket items to PDF (say, by favouriting them), then sending them automatically to Google Drive or Dropbox. This allows you to have permanent backups of your saved items in case they ever get removed from the Internet. A similar feature is available when you upgrade to Pocket Premium.
To use Pocket with IFTTT, go to ifttt.com and create an account. Search “pocket” to find recipes (IFTTT’s user-generated applications). You will have to connect your Pocket account to IFTTT, as well as any other applications you want to use with it.
If you can’t find the recipe you need, you can create your own custom recipe. Want to have tweets from a certain blogger or with a certain hashtag saved to your Pocket? Just click on Create Recipe, and you can make almost anything online save itself to Pocket automatically.
You can also use IFTTT to create a reminder to check your Pocket at a certain time every day — which is especially useful if you have recipes set up to send items to your pocket automatically.
Remember, Pocket works best when it’s well-curated. The more features you utilize, the more effective it will be.
Do you use Pocket? Share how you use it in the comments.
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