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Read It Later!

February 15th, 2008 at 6:00am — Rating: Firefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointLink

I've visited a lot of web sites, bookmarked a lot of articles, and read a lot of great posts. While looking for quality sites, you collect a lot of articles and posts that you want to read in the future. But how do you organize them or hold on to them for later?

This week's extension provides a way for you to mark posts and read them for later. I present Read it Later!

Overview

Read it Later! is an extension that is similar to your bookmarks in Firefox, but the difference between this extension and bookmarking a site is that the Read it Later! extension adapts to your bookmarks. After you're done reading a post from a site, click the "Read It" button and it removes the item from your list.

Installation

At 22k, the Read It Later! extension installs quickly and attaches itself to the toolbar...with a little help from the user. After restarting Firefox, Read It Later! asks the user if they would like to install the main buttons on the toolbar. After the installation, you're ready to go.

Features

The best way to describe the features of this extension is to show you. The author has already provided a video to show you how this works.

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There are three features that make this extension stand out. The one feature included from version 0.5 and up is the ability to sync up your reading list on multiple computers through either FoxMarks or Google Browser Sync. There is one caveat, though, when syncing it on multiple computers.

"One thing to note: When the Read It Later Extension is installed it creates a folder called ‘Read It Later’. On each computer the folder will be unique so that when you sync you’ll end up with two folders called Read It Later. To fix this, after doing the first sync, select ‘options’ from the Reading List button dropdown. Then choose the first option ‘Select Read It Later bookmark folder’ and change the folder to make sure both computers are selected on same one."

Number two on my list is the ability to use a HotKey to save a post for later instead of hitting the "Save for Later" button. If you hold down the 'R' key and click on the link, the item will immediately save to your reading list.

The last feature is the ability to view your reading list content offline. According to the author, this feature is experimental, but definitely worth playing with. Clicking on the 'Prepare List for Offline Reading" option is under the Reading List dropdown and will load the content onto your hard drive for later viewing.

Configuration

The options for this extension aren't located in the familiar Tools->Add-Ons dialog box. Instead, they're located under the Reading List button as selections instead of a dialog box.

All of the options included in this extension are very well organized and access quickly through the dropdown button. Most users are more familiar with a dialog box, but I guess it's just a matter of preference. Being an advanced user does allow me to access the options a little faster since they aren't located in a dialog box.

The options in the menu are placed into a "most important first" layout. The most important options are at the top of the menu and the remaining bells, whistles, and configuration settings are located a little lower down the menu (under options) since they won't be tweaked that often.

Conclusion

As I continue to use the Read It Later! extension, I'm starting to compare it to reading magazines. As you browse through the entire magazine, you mark which articles pertain to you the most and you dog ear the page for later. After you read the entire magazine, you either put the magazine down when you have some time available or you go back through and start to read the articles you bookmarked.

The same philosophy applies here. You bookmark the pages that you want to read later and then start reading them or come back to them sometime. I was starting to have a "tab mentality" with Firefox. Every time I wanted to save an article for later, I would middle-click on a link and open a new tab with the page I wanted to read later. Talk about a lot of tabs. Yikes!

The Read It Later! extension provides a great service and doesn't mess up my tab bar anymore and receives a 5 out of 5.

See ya next week.

If you want your Firefox add-on reviewed, please contact me with the URL and we'll let you know when it's reviewed.