How and why I use Instapaper

I shared recently the main ways that I get my news.  I use things like Google Reader, which is far and away the #1 way I get content, and Flipboard, Summify and Twitter. I find these types of tools useful because of the incredible amount of information on the web today. Who can keep up?

I’ve found over time that when it comes to news and content I’m in one of two modes: hunting and reading. When I’m hunting for content, I’m really just trying to see what’s going on and if there is anything critical (and timely) that I need to know about. When I’m in this mode, I’m not ready to sit and read a bunch of articles. I usually have a limited amount of time – 5 minutes before a meeting, 3 minutes on my iPhone while I’m waiting in line somewhere – and I just want to see what’s going on.

Since I’m not ready to read while hunting for content, I need a place to store things to read later. This is where Instapaper comes in. Instapaper allows me to very easily save content to read later, no matter where I’m reading it. Here are a few examples:

I have a Read Later button in my browser. All I do is click that button when I'm on a page I want to read in Instapaper later, and it adds it instantly.

Instapaper gives you an email address so you can send anything to that unique address, and it immediately adds it to your Instapaper queue. I LOVE this option.

My preferred Google Reader app, Reeder, has the ability to share to Instapaper built in.

Once content is in Instapaper, I can read it on any device but my preference is on the iPad (screenshot below). This allows me to basically have my own magazine of content whenever I want to read it.

View of my Instapaper (iPad)

Why not something like Flipboard on the iPad for this? Flipboard is more graphically beautiful than Instapaper for sure, but I don’t know if its as easy to add content from anywhere into Flipboard the way it is with Instapaper. In fact when I use Flipboard and find content I want to read, I send it to Instapaper.

Oh and a lot of people ask why I use Instapaper instead of just using Evernote and while I do also love Evernote, I use it very differently than Instapaper.


  1. Greg Horowitz on July 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    A couple cool Instapaper hacks I’ve discovered (I use these on my browser and then read articles with my Kindle; not sure if they work on the iPad):

    1. Wordcounter ( Adds a “WC” button next to each article so you can see how long it is. General rule of thumb is that you can read 250 words a minute, so a 5,000-word article would take you 20 minutes.

    2. Unread Counter ( Apparently Instapaper founder Marco Ament is against this ( but I find it useful. The only limitation is that it shows you the unread count for that page, which cuts off at 40. So if your queue is bigger than that, you will have to go to the last page, and then add that number to previous pages x 40. Fortunately, since declaring “Instapaper bankruptcy” a few months ago, I haven’t let my queue get that long again.

  2. How I read magazines and newspapers #pocket on July 15, 2013 at 5:56 am

    […] have switched from using Instapaper to read articles on my digital devices to using Pocket (formerly ReadItLater). I’m not sure […]

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