When’s the last time you really looked at your browser bookmarks? Okay, and when’s the last time you needed to bookmark some info – but then couldn’t find it easily later? I’m betting the second answer has a date more recent than the first! What if I told you that your bookmarks could actually be incredibly useful, easily searchable, and a saving grace rather than a jumbled nightmare? Oh, yes. I’m here today to tell you all about bookmark managers – and 10 great ones, both free and paid, that you can start using right away.
Why Use a Bookmark Manager
We spend time on the Internet for work. We spend time on the Internet for fun. We’re here for research, education, games, communication, and more. With that much content and information running through our heads each day, it can be impossible to remember where you found that one article you really want to read before bed, or that one detail that’s crucial to your career presentation or student paper. Our minds just can’t keep up – and neither can most of your basic browser bookmark tools where you throw every link into unorganized folders you barely look at again.
We need more deliberate tools to process today’s smorgasbord of online information – which is where bookmark managers come in. They’re next level organizational platforms that give you the necessary tools to save content as well as links (in case those links later break), tag them for maximum searchability, share them with classmates or colleagues, and ultimately save you time. It’s not a question anymore of whether you should use a bookmark manager, but of which one.
With all of these great tools today, however, it’s still important that you put some thought into your organizational system before you begin. A little bit of set-up at the beginning will save you a load of work later on. If you do nothing else, decide on a handful of tags that you will use consistently to return exactly what you need – these can be as simple as Work, School, and Recipes, and become as specific as you like: Work – White Paper #1, Class – British Literature, and Recipes – Jamaican.
If you’ll also be using a file folder system, do the same thing – create broad category file folders to keep the top level organization uncluttered, then get specific with subfolders as necessary.
Putting this basic step off isn’t the end of the world, but you’ll thank yourself later on when you don’t have to rely completely on your bookmark manager’s text search, or worry whether the manager you chose searches text in images, too.
10 Great Bookmark Managers
1. Bookmark Ninja
Bookmark Ninja offers a clean, categorical dashboard interface so you can see your bookmarks quickly and clearly. Each category has its own collapsible tab, and bookmarks are listed alphabetically within each category. This interface makes it easy to organize bookmarks through dragging and dropping, and allows you to color code them as well. (If you prefer, you can view your bookmarks in bookmark list form instead.) The Bookmark Ninja browser extension makes it easy to save bookmarks, and they sync across all your devices (including tablets and smartphones). Bookmark Ninja accommodates all browsers, and enables you to import bookmarks from other bookmark managers. This is a paid service after a 30-day free trial, but their fee is a reasonable $1.99 per month (note that you pay on an annual basis).
Diigo is another popular save-for-later browser extension that empowers you to save and tag whatever you find online so that you can access that content later on any device. It also allows you to annotate web pages and PDFs as you read them online (via digital sticky notes), and to organize your links and references into an easily searched and accessed system (Diigo’s Outliner). You can also share your collections with groups of colleagues or classmates, and they’ll archive your annotated and saved content if you pay for a premium account. As a free user, you have access to Diigo’s basic features with ads, a limit of 500 cloud bookmarks, and a limit of 100 webpage and PDF highlights. Starting with their Standard plan, you get unlimited bookmarks and highlights – if you want unlimited Outliners, PDF storage, or collaborative web or PDF annotation, you’ll have to pay for either their Professional or Business plans. Their paid tiers start at $40 per year and go up from there.
Evernote is a pretty great website and app that offers you a cohesive way to capture everyday ideas, to-do lists, manage your projects, take notes, and just about anything else you might need to do – in daily life or as part of your workday. You can even take handwritten notes and easily convert them into digital, tagged notes using their system. One of Evernote’s many tools is a robust web clipper tool that they describe as “a save button for the web.” Whether you’re looking at an article, PDF, or want to save part of (or even an entire) web page, you can clip it to Evernote – and, since Evernote preserves the entire clipped content, you don’t have to worry about dead links later. Evernote also empowers you to search your notes, create notebooks and tags, organize info by a specified metric (date, title, or tag), and search for text inside images. You can do all this at their Basic plan level as well – which means it’s free.
4. Facebook Saved
If you’ve ever seen something you wished you could save on Facebook, I’ve got great news for you – there is a Save function on Facebook that lets you bookmark a post for later attention! To use it, click on the three dots in the upper right of a given post to access the post’s menu, then select “Save post” from the drop down menu that appears. You can access these saved items through the left menu on Facebook, under Explore. Within the Saved tool on Facebook, you can also create Collections to organize your saved items into – you only get a title for a collection, no tags. Then you can specify which collection to save items to. This is a free tool and is part of Facebook.
5. Google Bookmark Manager
Google offers their own Bookmark Manager as a native part of Chrome, leveraging the power of Google Search to help organize your bookmarks. You can add images and notes with each bookmark, organize them into folders, and Bookmark Manager will even suggest folders that make sense according to the bookmark’s content. All the self-learning smarts of Google Search can be used to search for anything in your bookmarks, and all your bookmarks will be organized visually with images and descriptions. You can organize your bookmarks by dragging and dropping them, too.
If you don’t need any bells or whistles, Pinboard – self-described as “Social Bookmarking for Introverts” – has everything you need with no frills. They've optimized their service to provide the utmost in privacy and speed while ensuring that you can bookmark from any browser and sync with other services like Twitter and Pocket. You can use Pinboard via browser plugin, import and export data in different formats, and receive customer support via email or Twitter. You control the privacy of every bookmark, can mark links as “read later,” can sync your bookmarks with other services, and apply any number of tags to a given bookmark. You can also add unlimited notes to any bookmark, and they offer a ton of organizational tools – just set up your preferred organizational scheme from the beginning and stick to it. A Pinboard account will run you $11 per year.
If you’re a Pinterest enthusiast, use it to organize your bookmarks! You’re spending plenty of time on the site anyway, right? If you don’t mind sharing your pins publically, you can save your bookmarks to a regular board; if you’d like them to be private, just create a private board before you get started saving. Since you have to create a board up front, it forces you to get organized before you can save anything. If you’d like to organize within a board itself, you can even create sections within each board (using the + symbol at the top of the board you wish to organize further). While Pinterest will save a specific image, it won’t preserve the website that image links to and it won’t necessarily save any text you want to preserve either. You’ll have to do that yourself in the pin’s description, but remember that you only get 500 characters in that space.
Pocket is one of the most popular premium bookmark managers you’ll find today, allowing you to save videos and articles from any website or publication – or any app, as well. Pocket integrates with your web browser so you can save wherever you are, and also works across all your devices from smartphone to tablet to computer. You can even save via email or through over 1500 apps that have integrated with Pocket, such as Twitter and Flipboard. If you choose to use the free version of Pocket, you can expect to see sponsored content and have access to a limited suite of features. Pocket Premium users pay an annual fee of $44.99 (or a monthly fee of $4.99) and get an ad-free version of the service with a permanent library of everything you save – along with advanced search functions, smart Suggested Tags, and searches by Full-Text, Tag, Autor, and Topic.
Raindrop.io bills itself as an all-in-one bookmark manager that allows you to save anything from the Internet into an easily organized collection. You can grab an article, photo, presentation, or video (and more) then file those items into thematic collections or categorize them with auto-suggested tags. Raindrop.io has a search feature to help you locate anything with ease and you can share your bookmarks with a team or even the public. Their browser extension lets you store bookmarks by clicking on a blue cloud icon in your browser's taskbar. You can access your bookmarks across all your devices and the main four browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera). The basic functionality of Raindrop.io is free, but you can subscribe to PRO and unlock all of its features, from nested collections and those auto-suggested tags to broken link and duplicate link finders. They also give 1 gb of image storage to their PRO users bookmark cloud backup.
Does your work involve having a ton of browser tabs open at any one moment? Perhaps even a ton of tabs for each different client you have, meaning you have multiple browser windows open at once – with their own endless tabs you click through in confusion? That’s where the utility of Toby comes in. You create collections – like Client A, Project B, or Research C – then drag your open tabs into the collection you'd like them to be collected into. When you need that selection of tabs, you just click on the collection and Toby opens them for you. By default, this browser extension stores these collections locally on your computer; however, if you also have a registered account with Toby, your collections will sync across any computer and you can share with a team.
Which bookmark manager do you plan on trying? Don’t delay – hack your productivity and dive right in!