Bad habits are hard to break, especially digital bad habits. We don’t even realize we are creating these habits until we are overwhelmed by our inability to find anything on our computers and mobile devices.
In fact, most of us treat the information on our computer like a stranger unloading our dishwasher and putting all the glasses, dishes, pots and cutlery in the closest cabinet or drawer, with everything mixed up higgledy piggledy.
Thankfully, organizing files on a computer imitates the old-fashioned act of naming paper folders to hold documents in filing cabinets. It’s not difficult; it just takes discipline.
Conversely, the habit of keeping catalogs, magazines with dog-eared pages, and sections of old newspapers to be read “soon” has never seemed to lend itself to a practical filing system. And, therefore, trying to organize the digital equivalent of our stacks of periodical clutter is often done by creating bookmarks. A practice I have found unsatisfactory for short-term saving and, more importantly, finding at a later date.
I was notorious for keeping dozens of tabs open across my web browser. Maybe you do this too. You find an online store or article and don’t have the time to fully explore or read it, so you keep the tab open. As you add more tabs, your browser becomes so slow that it freezes or crashes and you wonder why. Or, you try to find a particular tab that you just know you left open – unsuccessfully.
A few months ago, I stumbled across a pretty fantastic solution, and it’s called Pocket. Pocket is an app that lets you save specific website pages and articles that you want to view later. And it’s synchronized across all of your devices. You can “pocket” a site from your computer and pull it up later from your smartphone or tablet.
While Pocket does not have a filing system per se, you can add tags to each page you are saving to help you find them later. For instance, if I was gathering information for an upcoming trip to New York, I would add the tag “New York” to every webpage that I wanted to save as a reference for planning my trip. When I am doing research for an article and saving references in Pocket, I tag each saved site with the topic of my research.
To find a saved site in Pocket, I select the correct tag first and then can find the specific saved site more quickly. It’s not unlike choosing a folder and then the correct document within the folder.
Whether you use a PC or Mac computer, Android or Apple mobile devices, getting started with Pocket is free, quick and easy. Here’s how to get it.
On your computer
- Go to https://getpocket.com/ and create an account. If you have a Gmail account, choose “Sign Up with Google,” otherwise choose “Sign Up with email.”
- Install Pocket in your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera) using these instructions. If you use Internet Explorer, use these instructions.
- Install Pocket on your computer. For Mac computers, use these instructions. For Windows computers, use these instructions.
On your smart phones and tablets
- On iPhones and iPads, go to the app store and search for the Pocket app. This is the correct symbol for the app. Download it and log in with the account you set up on your computer.
- For Android devices, download Pocket from the Google Play or Amazon Appstore.
For detailed and advanced directions for using Pocket, I recommend that you browse through Pocket’s Help Center. The topics are well-organized and the instructions are easy to follow.
My quickstart instructions for Mac, Chrome and iPhone
How to save to Pocket with Chrome on a Mac:
- When you are on a webpage that you want to save for later, click on this symbol that will be near the top right, just past the address bar.
- Wait for this popup to appear in the top right.
- I recommend that you type a category or topic in the “Add Tags” field and click on Save. This will make it much easier to find later.
How to save to Pocket on an iPhone:
- From Safari, touch the button at the bottom of the screen. From Chrome, touch the in the top right and then the button.
- Touch the Pocket app icon. You will see this popup that it has been saved.
- To add a category or topic, touch the tag symbol. Enter or select your “tag” and then touch Save.
How to read your saved pages on a Mac:
- Open the Pocket application from your Applications folder or the Launchpad.
- To search for saved items with a particular tag, touch the tag symbol at the bottom of your list and select a tag.
How to read your saved pages on an iPhone:
- Open the Pocket app.
- Touch in the top left.
- Select a tag.
Once you get in the habit of using Pocket, you will feel so smart!