How do I save links for later?

You’d think this would have a simple obvious answer, but in mulling it over recently, how I do this is actually a decent chunk of my internettin’ time and has an algorithm of sorts. When I’ve got a URL on my hands that I need to get back to, there are three broad buckets:

  • ⏰ Short Term: I’ll probably need this later today or in the next few days. Or I’m just saving it quick in order to properly triage later. Or just as likely: immediately do what needs to be done: buy the ticket, do the donation, update the setting, etc.
  • 📂 Medium Term: My most important links! I have a “database” of links I’m planning to do something more with. Probably write about it in some fashion. Or share it somewhere that makes sense. Or let it sit there until a more complete thought forms, or other related links come in and I’m able to connect the dots, which is fun for me.
  • 🗄️ Long Term: I essentially want to never lose this link, becoming a part of some archive that I’ll always be able to find if I ever need to. But chances are I don’t need to browse it or stare at it every often like I do the other categories.

Which maps something like:

  • Email myself: I keep my inbox pretty clear so anything that’s in here is begging to get dealt with in short order. It becomes my highest-priority get-this-dealt-with link saving tactic.
  • Things: My main TODO app, which has an “inbox” I send things to for short-term triage. (Check out their “Quick Entry with Autofill”
  • Feedbin: I like RSS, so “starring” a link there is a short-term link saver, and for a handful of friends that look at each other’s stars. 
  • 📂 Notion: Medium Term (Check out their Web Clipper. This is my main to-write-about-later link pile. See screenshot. I save ’em, tag ’em, sort ’em, etc. Because I help plan podcasts in Notion too, it’s nice to be able to copy/drag links around within the app.
  • 🗄️ Pinboard: Long Term. The thing where they cache a copy of the link forever is a feel-good thing. Still a third-party service though so not iron clad.
  • 🗄️ Blog it. The ultimate long-term link storage.
  • 🗄️ Post it publicly on social media. The number of social media apps on my phone is a fragmented mess right now: LinkedIn, Bluesky, Mastodon, Twitter (X), Threads, & Facebook. “Saving” a link isn’t the primary reason to post to a social media site, nor would I fully trust it any of them as an archive, but sometimes fulfills this purpose since you can often search your own profile and the act of sharing it is usually meaningful enough to remember that you did.
  • 🗄️ Post it privately on social apps. I’m in various Slacks, Discords, and text messaging apps like iMessage, Whatsapp, Wavelength, and Signal. Again saving a link isn’t the primary purpose, but if I did, the link ends up being findable again in the future because I’ll remember that I did. There is a Ziade & Ford podcast about people being Cardsorters or Linkdroppers and I think I might be the rare person that is both.

What do I not do?

  • Bookmarks. A lot of browsers offer them and saving URLs is kind of the point of them. I just never got into that habit in any browser.
  • Open tabs. Of course I have some open tabs, and those are pretty immediate forms of link saving, but I’m pretty quick to close them and don’t think of them as links I’m saving for later.

Why am I thinking about this? Well sometimes new apps come along that are ultimately some form of URL saving. Sometimes they are super appealing looking. Like:

Aboard is a brower extention that makes it one-click to save links and then add meta data to them and sort them and share them and collaboate on them and all that. It’s very well done for all those things. mymind (ughk app names that are lowercase kill me) also is a browser extension that makes it one-click to save links, but then attempts to be super helpful with what you’ve saved automatically with, of course, “AI”. It also looks pretty darn well done.

I’ve tried both but haven’t put either of them strongly through the paces. Why not — I ask myself. I friggin love saving links. Saving links is, like, kinda what I do. I think that’s what makes new approachs to it risk for me. I can’t be saving my links to multiple places. Feels like too much work, too messy, too weird. So in order to try something new, I gotta really go all-in on it and use the crap out of it. That’s risky. What if I don’t like it? How can I move my links out? I can’t have a link saving history gap! Sometimes you just gotta take a leap of faith in using new software. Some weeks I’m ready for that, some weeks I’m not.

🤘

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12 responses to “How do I save links for later?”

  1. Ooh, this ticks all right right boxes for me.

    I’ve tried every major bookmarking/link saving app and I’m currently using larder.io and experimenting with directly posting bookmarks directly to my shortform blog at cagrimmett.com/micro or Likes at cagrimmett.com/likes. I made an Apple Shortcut action to easily do this from my phone or Safari on macOS.

    I think I’ll eventually end up with a self-hosted bookmarking service that has archiving built in and maybe uses something like mshots for previews.

    • Chris Coyier says:

      Do you make the call to either share or not share the link publicly instantly? Maybe my systems are so weird is because I feel like I need to save the link privately first for this gestation period first before deciding if it’s something I’d share publicly or if I have any real reason to do so.

      • Yes, I usually make that decision instantly. Health-related, family or house-related, and gift ideas are usually private unless I feel the need to blog about them later. Links in the brainstorming stage of a project are also usually private until I write a wrap up post after the project ships. Everything else is usually public.

  2. Arshath H says:

    I keep open tabs for Short term, Bookmark for Medium term & Readwise Reader for longer term storage. Figuring out Second Brain concept for all the above, haven’t got success yet.

    I’m afraid of storing the links with 3rd parties, they may go away in few years

  3. This is an Apple-only solution but a while back I switched from Pinboard to Anybox. It has native clients for iOS, iPadOS and macOS. Syncs data to iCloud so that all data is kept there.

  4. I built a pretty simple yet effective solution that saves links locally but in a way that everything is easily searchable. Oh and it’s also open-source!

    https://linksnatch.pages.dev/

  5. Latz says:

    What about the “Reading List” feature in the Chrome v114+ browser?

  6. Man, here I thought I was the only big dummy shoving links-to-remember into Things! My Inbox within Things is absolutely useless for capturing actionable todo items because it’s where I shove every link I want to remember. Then, after a buildup, I triage them into different Projects within an area named Bookmarks.

    Chris, I came here to find a better way. Instead you’ve held up a mirror. And I wept, for there were no more worlds left to conquer.

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