Instapaper

Instapaper is a time shifted reading platform that allows you to save interesting articles and read them later.

Instapaper's homepage

It is a perfect resource for times when you stumble across an online article you would like to read but don't have the time. Rather than bookmarking the article and going back to it the next time you are on your computer, Instapaper lets you save a copy to its servers to retrieve later. And if you have a smartphone, iPad or Kindle, you can then read saved articles on these devices, irrespective of whether you currently have a Wi-Fi or 3G connection.

You can set up a account on Instapaper by going to instapaper.com. It's free. Once you've signed up you can start adding articles by using Instapaper's bookmarklet. When placed in your Internet browser's toolbar, this bookmarklet enables you to add the webpage you are currently viewing to Instapaper.

Instapaper's 'Read Later' bookmarklet as it appears in an internet browser's toolbar.
Instapaper's 'Read Later' bookmarklet as it appears in an internet browser's toolbar.

Any articles you save can then be accessed later on Instapaper's website and appear as a list of items. 

Not that we're biased or anything, but the second item is definitely the most recommended read on this list...
Not that we're biased or anything, but the second item is definitely the most recommended read on this list...

Clicking on an item's title takes you back to the page you were on, exactly like an ordinary bookmark. A click of the 'text' button opens up a streamlined version of the original article, formatted in a way that's easy on the eyes. Much like Readability, a bookmarklet we profiled a few months ago, you can increase or decrease the text size, change the font and adjust the margins and spacing options to make the article easier to read.

How the text of an article appears on Instapaper.
How the text of an article appears on Instapaper.
 

You can change the text size, increase the spacing in between lines, adjust the margins and toggle between four different fonts.
You can change the text size, increase the spacing in between lines, adjust the margins and toggle between four different fonts.

But it's Instapaper's compatability with other devices that really makes it valuable. If you have an iPhone or an iPad you can download Instapaper's official app for $5. The app syncs your Instapaper account with your device, so any articles you saved to the service while on your work computer can be accessed on your iPhone or iPad later. Conversely, any articles you save to Instapaper while on your iPhone or iPad can alos be viewed later on Instapaper's website.

As well as presenting saved articles in a neat an uncluttered way, the official app comes with a free English dictionary that defines any words you highlight and a ‘dark mode’, which makes it easier to read articles after dark.

Instapaper doesn't just sync with Apple products - it works on other devices as well. If you have a Kindle, you can set up your Instapaper account so that any items you save are automatically emailed across. Also, while Instapaper does not provide an official app for Android smartphones, some independent developers have built their own Instapaper clients, the best one being iPaper.

If you are a journalist, chances are your Instapaper account will fill up with assorted articles very quickly, so it's important to keep everything organised. Fortunately, the service lets you categories items into folders. And if you find yourself drowning in articles you have no intention of actually reading, you can delete or archive them with a single click.

Instapaper has been praised for the way in which it has changed the dynamics of online reading. While the Internet has a reputation for encouraging users to hyperactively flit from article to article, seldom investing in reading longform content, platforms like Instapaper are allowing people to read good writing at their leisure in a format that doesn't strain the eyes.

To this end, Instapaper also helps its users discover interesting articles. Its sister site, givemesomethingtoread.com, regularly recommends longform content that you can save directly to your Instapaper account. Another website, Longform.org performs a similar service. And, of course, our weekly wrap of the top media stories is always fertile ground for at least a couple of good stories to read later on Instapaper!