Thoughts on bookmark managers

May 3, 2022

4 minute read

I’m looking to make my bookmarks more useful, rather than sending them to die in the “Other bookmarks” folder. In this post, I outline what I like and don’t like about using Raindrop, and what I’m looking for in a bookmarking tool.

Raindrop is good, but it’s SAAS

I’m a bit torn. I really like Raindrop.io but I’m wary of one-person-SAAS and startups. It’s just bookmarks so it shouldn’t matter that much, but I’d rather use a pay-once app that stores its data in iCloud or locally, a self-hosted solution, or well-established company, than potentially deal with a migration in the near future. This has been my rule lately when choosing which software or service to use.

Seems like all the alternatives to Raindrop are nowhere near as good, though it’s possible I just haven’t found the best alternative yet.

Using Raindrop as my read-later service and reading those links in my RSS reader is a great feature. You can get an RSS feed for any folder in Raindrop, as well as sharing the link to a folder on their service.

Another cool thing you can do with Raindrop is use IFTTT to read your GitHub profile’s RSS feed and add starred projects to a folder in Raindrop. I very rarely check my starred projects unless I need to find something later, but there’s a lot of projects in there that I meant to do something with later but never did.

Raindrop makes my bookmarks far more useful than they are in my browser, by making them easier to find and organize. And Raindrop has integration with Alfred, a Spotlight replacement for macOS.

Separating my bookmarks from my browser has other advantages too, like being able to switch default browsers on a whim with less migration work. I still have a selection of bookmarks in my bookmarks bar for top tasks, but everything that was in the “Other bookmarks” folder is in Raindrop.

The “Other bookmarks” folder has historically been where bookmarks go to die for me, like stuffing everything in the closet to clean your room. I very rarely go back and look at them, because of how hidden they are, but I keep saving new ones anyway.

In 2020, I wrote about how I export webpages to PDF, and I still do that to this day for articles (usually in Reader View) and site designs for my inspiration folder. As I noted though, this doesn’t work for dynamic pages, and sometimes I’d rather just save a link than archive the site.

Raindrop’s paid service includes automatic page archiving, and while I haven’t upgraded yet, this is a great feature to have.

I’m going to keep using Raindrop for now, but I’m still looking for the next best bookmarking tool.

Things I’m looking for in a bookmark manager

  • The ability to save, search, and organize links into folders
    • Optional: tagging
  • Browser extension and/or share sheet integration on my phone and Mac
    • Would like a quick way to save to my read-later folder too
  • Spotlight and Alfred integration
  • Easy exports to a standard format (JSON, OPML, or browser-compatible HTML bookmarks export)
    • Optional: automated exports for backups
  • Easy imports of HTML, XML, JSON, CSV, and text files with a list of links
  • Optional: native apps for macOS, Windows, Linux
    • Electron (ugh) is fine if it can integrate with the share sheet and Spotlight on macOS
    • I do not want to open a webpage to manage my bookmarks, but it would be nice as a fallback option
  • Functional design, doesn’t have to be super pretty but shouldn’t be ugly either
  • iOS/Android apps
  • Sync between apps, ideally through a local files solution like iCloud, or its own solution
  • Optional: Article parser so it can also function as my read-later app
    • Optional: “Mark as read” to move the link to a “Read” folder
  • Optional: Quick-move actions for sorting, for example if I add a project’s page to my read-later list, I could click one button to add it to my Software or Web Design folders when I’m done reading
  • Optional: Shared folders
    • RSS support for shared folders
  • Optional: RSS feed fetch, to automatically add links to a folder (GitHub stars for example)
    • Could also function as my RSS reader or store all my feeds and then consume them with my RSS reader via the shared folder RSS feature
    • RSS feed filters and rules (only add this link if it contains “foo”)

Raindrop supports most of the features in this list; notable exceptions are sharesheet integration with macOS, and the Safari extension is buggy, but that’s probably Safari’s fault (sigh).

Alternatives?

I looked at Pocket and Wallabag, but those are read-later apps, not bookmark managers.

If you use a bookmark manager, let me know what you’re using. I’d like to check it out.


Tagged with software bookmarking

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