Improve Your Mac (Part 3) - Access your read-later articles

11/29/2012 5:29:11 PM

More easily use your Mac to read content save to Pocket and Instapaper

Skill level: Anyone can do it

It will take: 10 minutes

You’ll need: Read Later, OS X 10.6+, a Pocket account and/or and Instapaper subscription, some saved articles.

One of the big problems with the internet is there’s just so much of it.

Inconveniently, a lot of it also presents itself precisely at the point you don’t have time to take it in. especially written articles.

Description: More easily use your Mac to read content save to Pocket and Instapaper

More easily use your Mac to read content save to Pocket and Instapaper

There’s always time to watch a tiny clip of a cute penguin, but not so much for a 2,000 word opus on something you nonetheless find hugely interesting. This is why read-later services are increasingly popular, providing you with the means to save stories for later.

Apple has its own interpretation of read-later built into Safari: Reading list optionally syncs via iCloud and is essentially a bookmarks list defining things you want to read. However, other services go further Pocket (getpocket. corn) and Instapaper (instapapercom) both enable you to save content and digest it later via a client, free from the distractions of the original web page.

On lOS, Pocket and Instapaper have first-rate clients, but on the Mac you’ve mostly been left with using a browser to access your articles. Now, though, a free app called Read Later provides a high- quality Mac client, albeit one that bears more than a passing resemblance to MacFormat favourite Reeder (reederapp.corn), the best RSS app around.

In order to use Read Later, you’ll need a free Pocket account and/or an lnstapaper subscription ($1 per month, required for third-party clients to access the service’s API), along with some saved articles. Now let’s have a look at how it works.

Description: In order to use Read Later, you’ll need a free Pocket account and/or an lnstapaper subscription

In order to use Read Later, you’ll need a free Pocket account and/or an lnstapaper subscription

Setting up read later

1.    Get the app

Download the free Read Later from the Mac App Store. On launch type in your Pocket username and password and then click ‘Login to Pocket’ to continue. If you prefer using instapaper, click ‘Login with Instapaper’ and the window is updated to enable you to use that service instead. Note that if using Instapaper, you need to have a paid subscription account.

2.    Wait for sync

Once you’ve logged in, Read Later will synchronise with your preferred service, a process that might take a minute or so to complete. Once it’s ready, you’ll see your saved bookmarks in the Article List pane, and a blank pane to the right. Click an article to start reading, or use the various tips on the following page to customise the Read Later app to more suit your requirements.

3.    Add the other service

If you use both Instapaper and Pocket, you can easily add the other service to Read Later. Go to Accounts in the app’s Preferences, click the relevant Login button, and then input your account details. This pane can also be used to re-download the bookmarks saved to either service, and also to logout and clear all the articles. Logout of both services and you’ll see the start menu.

Master read later

1.    List appearance

The General preferences provide options for fine tuning how the Article List looks and works. Amend the highlight colour and font size, and toggle visibility of the two-line preview and date. Define whether a double-dick on an Article List item opens the original web article or loads the article into the online version of Pocket or Instapaper. To stop your browser appearing in front of Read Later when opening an article, tick ‘Open links in background’.

2.    Article actions

When an article is selected, icons appear at the right of the top toolbar. The first three, respectively, are used to mark an item as read, as a favourite (Instapaper only), and to edit its meta-data (title and URL for both services, and also tags for Pocket). Mark an item as read and it can be reversed by selecting it in the relevant service’s Archive (via the Folder list pane) and dicking the tick icon.

3.    Sharing information

The rightmost icon in the toolbar when an article is selected is the familiar ‘share’ arrow. Click this and you get a number of options regarding the current article, enabling you to copy its URL, view it in Safari, mail the link, or send the link to various social networks. To use these sharing options, you must add relevant usernames and passwords in the Share section of Read Later’s preferences.

4.    Reading settings

Although not configurable to the nth degree, Read Later does offer several settings that enable you to amend the appearance of articles. Select Reading in the preferences and you can change the background (‘Style’), font, line height (the spacing between lines of text), and article width. In the depicted image, we’ve used ‘Light’ for Style (the least distracting option) and ‘Georgia - 18’ for the font, along with increasing the line height.

5.    Search system

Your read later service could have a lot of articles saved at any one time, and while you might be able to remember a subject, you might not know when you saved it. To avoid scrolling, click the magnifying glass icon to bring up the search field, and type a term to filter the Article List Note that to search an archive, you must first select it in the Folder List

6.    Pane control

Read Later has three panes: the Folder List houses links to Instapaper, Pocket and Tags; the Article List shows an icon, heading, date and a couple of lines of text for each article; and the Article View shows the article itself. Drag the lines separating panes to adjust them. Use the arrow widgets to collapse/hide and expand each pane. The right most one makes the Article View pane fill the window.

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