My Offline Reading Setup

About 6 months ago, I decided to “dumb down” my iPhone to remove distractions and get some of my focus back. As a result, I removed most apps that had “feeds”, including the excellent Reeder app, and the Safari browser. I’ve since resorted to using Reeder on my MacBook or our home iMac, but I still wanted some way to read selected articles on my Phone. Not the full-on feed of every single article; just the articles that I had sorted through that I wanted to read.

Offline Reading

Initially, I used Pinboard for this purpose (via the Pushpin app). However, I recently moved to Instapaper after reading an article from Chris Bowler over on The Sweet Setup about keeping track of important quotes from things he read. I liked that Instapaper has a built-in highlighting feature, and it’s free.

The general idea for my “offline reading” setup is to collect or “bookmark” specific articles from RSS feeds and email newsletters, store them all in one place, and then process them via my phone when I have time. Instapaper makes this possible and handles practically everything for me. I can save to Instapaper directly from Reeder on my Mac, or I can use a bookmarklet or the Instapaper website to save a link that I come across while browsing or reading an email newsletter.

The Instapaper app provides a readable version of the article without the actual site branding, sidebar links or ads, so it’s really perfect for undistracted reading. I can use the app to highlight sections (see below), “like” articles, and archive things when I’m done.

Saving Highlights

I pretty much stole Chris Bowler’s method of saving Instapaper highlights into Day One, as described in Part 2 of his article. This allows me to easily document meaningful or helpful quotes from a specific article, without having to do a bunch of copy-paste-app-switching stuff while reading. Simply select some text, use the highlight tool, and I’m done.

Thanks to the magic of IFTTT, a new entry is created automatically in a specific Day One journal that I use for this kind of stuff, and each entry not only has the highlighted text, but it also has a link back to the article in case I want to look it up again. Super handy, and really quite cool!