How to Use Safari's Reading List

How to Use Safari's Reading List
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Why Use Reading List Instead of Bookmarks?

In the latest version of Safari, Apple’s internet browser, Apple has added a new feature called Reading List. Reading list is a way to quickly bookmark webpages that you want to read later, but don’t necessarily want to bookmark.

You might be asking “If it is like making a bookmark why not just make a bookmark?” Well, think of it this way- Bookmarks are for webpages you want to frequently access and want quick access to (ie. your bank or an internet store). A site on your Reading List might be something you don’t have time to read, but you want to have the URL remembered for later reading (ie. a news article or a video). You can always turn a site on your Reading List into a bookmark. You can also keep it indefinitely in your reading list. However, bookmarks give you the benefit of more organization. Your Reading List list is just that- a list.

How to Use Reading List

So how do you use Reading List? It is actually very easy to use.

When you find a website you want to add to your Reading List click the eyeglasses icon under the back arrow on the top left of the Safari window. It is (coincidentally) to the left of the bookmark icon that looks like an open book.

Clicking the eyeglasses will activate the Reading List frame which slides over to the right from the left side of the Safari window. Your links will appear in a list with a brief description (from the webpage) and the favicon from the site (if one exists). Clicking a link in the list will cause it to load in the browser window to the right.

To add the current webpage to your Reading List click the “Add Page” button. The site will be added to your list. To delete a single item off your list control click it and choose “Remove Item” from the pop up menu. If you want to completely clear your list click the “Clear All” button. It is all pretty straight forward.

You might notice an “All” and an “ Unread” button at the top of the frame. As you visit a link it gets moved from the “Unread” list to the “All” list.

To leave your Reading List click the glasses icon again and the frame will slide back into place.

Another nice feature about the Reading List will become active once iCloud is released. The Reading List will sync between computers and iOS devices (iPhone, iPods, iPads) that are linked to your iCloud account. This will add a whole new dimension to the Reading List and make it even more useful.

Alternatives to Reading List

If you don’t have the latest Safari installed or don’t plan on installing Lion to give you access to the syncing benefits of iCloud there are other options to the Reading List. These options have been around for a while and have the benefit of working cross-platform from Mac to Windows to Linus to iOS to Android, etc. These are Instapaper and ReadItLater, and the both work in a similar way.

Both services are free and allow you to create a Reading List through your account at either site. You can then login to your account on these sites and have access to your list of sites wherever you are in the world as long as you have an internet connection. Both services also have free and paid iOS apps for easier access on your iOS devices.

Unlike Apple’s Reading List which is built into the browser you add sites to your account through bookmarklets. The site provides a link that you drag to your bookmark bar in your browser. When you are at a site you want to add to your list you click the bookmarklet (which is linked to your account) and the link is automatically sent to your account’s list of links.

Many Mac apps and iOS apps also have one or both of these services built into them. For example, my RSS reader of choice Reeder has the ability to send a link from an article to Instapaper and/or ReadItLater. Until apps have built-in support for Reading List, I will still be using ReadItLater and Reading List.

Many people prefer Instapaper to ReadItLater. I actually prefer ReadItLater. When I was trying both I found ReadItLater fit my preferences better and I liked the way the iOS app worked. Both do the same thing so I would suggest trying them out and picking the one you like better or use both.

Whichever service or services you choose to use I have found the lists of links very useful, and I am confident you will too.


  • Article based on author’s experience
  • Screenshot by author