Scott Hanselman

Instapaper delivered to your Kindle changes how you consume web content - Plus IFTTT, blogs and more

October 19, 2012 Comment on this post [29] Posted in Reviews
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I've talked about Instapaper before when I tease folks of having 42 tabs open.

Instapaper - Google Chrome

Remember that "open in new tab" rarely means "read it later." It usually means "use up memory and let this page run in the background until eventually declare tab-bankruptcy and close them all."

Kindle Instapaper Photo by Joshua Kaufman via Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 if Open In New Tab doesn't mean Read Later, what does? Why, READ LATER does! This gets even better when you combine a Read Later tool like Instapaper with an Amazon Kindle like my new Kindle Paperwhite (I reviewed the Paperwhite last week.)

Inserting a Kindle into your Life's Workflow

Here's the idea. You get a bunch of links that flow through your life all week long. These are often in the form of what I call "long-form reading." Hackernews links, NYTimes studys, academic papers, etc. Some folks make bookmarks, have folders called "Links" on their desktops, or email themselves links.

I have these websites, papers and interesting links rolled up and delivered automatically to my Kindle every week. Think about how amazing that is and how it can change your relationship with content on the web. The stress and urgency (and open tabs) are gone. I am naturally and organically creating a personalized book for weekend reading.

I have a bookmarklet from Instapaper that says "Read Later" on my browser toolbar. I've put it in every browser I use, even Mobile Safari. I've also logged into Instapaper from all my social apps so that I can Read Later from my iPhone Twitter Client for example. You'd be surprised how many apps support Instapaper once you start looking for this.

Workflow Flow Chart - sorry if you are blind. There's text about this soon.What this means it is that Instapaper is ready and waiting for me in every location where an interesting piece of long-form reading could present itself. I don't stress, I click Read Later and the document is shipped off to Instapaper.

I even made a flowchart a few years back. You can get more details on that in my blog post Two Must-Have Tools for a More Readable Web.

Instapaper delivered to your Kindle

So you're building a queue of links that is sent to Instapaper. Perhaps you've tried this  before but then never visited the Instapaper App or Website. This is a common complaint and why I like document delivery to the Kindle. I use my Kindle all the time so I appreciate a "no clicks required" workflow. If books show up on my Kindle I'll read them.

Just visit once you've got an Instapaper account and put in your Kindle's email address. Did you know every Kindle has one? It's either for free WiFi delivery or just for 3G delivery with a small fee. I use the free one. You can find out your Kindle's Email Address here under Personal Document Settings.

The key is to allow your Kindle to receive email from the unique Instapaper email address. It's a whitelist.


Then, back over in the Instapaper Settings, I set a delivery time if at least 5 things are in the "book":


Pulling Links and Content from other Locations with IFTTT

Perhaps you pull your content from elsewhere, or you Like things on Facebook, put them in Dropbox, email them to a special address or something else. You can use If This Then That as the social workflow glue to route those links to Instapaper - and ultimately to your Kindle!

For example, I also use the Delicious social bookmarking service to hold things I want to save. But, I also want to read them and I don't want to stop using Delicious just because I use Instapaper. Instead, I use an IFTTT Recipe to  take newly bookmarked things and send them to Instapaper (and my Kindle!) as well.

Here's my Delicious to Kindle Recipe. You can make any recipe you want to pull links from wherever you find them and send them into your long-form reading queue.


You can even have blogs - like this one! - sent automatically to your Kindle via Instapaper with an IFTTT recipe like this:


The possibilities are endless.


It can't be overstated how useful this is if you have a Kindle. Rather than opening "guilt-tabs" that you'll never read, have them delivered to yourself in a way that will encourage you TO READ THEM!

If your system isn't working for you, change it. If you already have a system that works, well, great job making it all the way to the end of this blog post!

For more personal productivity ideas watch my video on Scaling Yourself and visit the Productivity section of this blog.

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 19, 2012 1:03
I do the same. The only downside I have found is that the Instapaper personal documents start clogging up your Kindle library. I found it a bit tedious to remove the Instapaper's personal documents one at a time from my Amazon Kindle Manager.
October 19, 2012 1:06
I've been using the same workflow for several months now, and I agree that it's fantastic. I have found a couple of downsides; the main one is that Instapaper doesn't archive articles after they're sent to my Kindle, to I have to periodically remember to go in an manually archive them or they'll get re-sent.

The other annoyance is that Instapaper doesn't send images to the Kindle, which is a problem for some articles. To work around that I use a Chrom extension ("Send to Kindle" from which sends the article directly to my Kindle, including images.

It used to be a lot better when IFTTT supported Twitter - any Twitter favourite with a link would automatically get sent to Instapaper. Thanks to Twitter's API changes, they're no longer allowed to do that.
October 19, 2012 1:45
Well, I just starred this in Reader so I can read it later...but seriously, thanks for the tutorial, definitely something I want to set up.
October 19, 2012 3:52
the ifttt site does not mention anything about privacy in their "terms" section. it may as well be an evil smart way of collecting social media data.
October 19, 2012 3:54
well i must be blind. they do have a "privacy" section. but still...
October 19, 2012 5:05
When I got my Kindle, I started using Instapaper as a means for sending articles to it that I wanted to read later, as you describe. However, having a compilation of articles sent to my Kindle doesn't really suit me - I prefer having the articles appear individually in my Kindle's reading list. Therefore I found that the Send To Kindle extension for Chrome (by suited my purposes better (BTW, I have no affiliation other than being a happy user). It also cuts out extraneous stuff from the article like Instapaper, but sends it directly to my Kindle. Of course, now instead of having a browser full of open tabs, I have a Kindle with a very long list of items!
October 19, 2012 5:07
Why bother with the middle-man? If you're using Google Chrome, you can get the "Send to Kindle" browser extension and one click will send any webpage directly to your Kindle. No Instapaper required:
October 19, 2012 6:46

You mean "Chrome to Mobile," right? RIGHT?!
October 19, 2012 11:32
I used to follow the same process you describe above until I discovered Clearly from Evernote:

It's a nice "Distraction free reading" extension for Chrome and FireFox which can sync to your Evernote account. Then I can just download it on my phone and read it when I want, If I had a premium account (haven't found a reason to get one yet) then it could sync it automatically.

For the record, I don't work for Evernote or know anyone who does :-P
October 19, 2012 11:52
I noticed you have your bookmark toolbar visible. I figured out a little trick with bookmarklets in Chrome where you can invoke bookmarklets from the omnibar.

1. Right click on the bookmarklet and copy the address.
2. Open settings and "Manage search engines..."
3. Add a new engine under other:
3.1. Give it any name ("Read later" for example)
3.2. Give any key keyword ("rl" for example)
3.3. Paste in the javascript fragment into the query engine URL. If you edit the JS you could also parameterize it using %s.
4. Now when you want to read something later CTRL+L -> R -> L -> ENTER (if you parameterized CTRL+L -> R -> L -> TAB -> {parameter} -> ENTER). Fits in quite nicely with your web as a console post.

Also, please allow UL, OL and LI in your blog :).
October 19, 2012 12:37
Does anyone know if this will work with the Kindle app on a Nexus 7?
October 19, 2012 16:35
check also Readability - they offer similar tools, probably better...
there is a "Send to Kindle" boohìkmarklet

October 19, 2012 17:00
I'm using Readability's "Send to Kindle" but the workflow is the same. I can't express how much it changed my reading habits. I read so many more long form articles because of it.

For those of us with a long commute, I have to recommend SoundGecko for when you want to listen to any article. Same concept, click a link to send to SoundGecko and they create an MP3 of the article. Which can be sent to your email, Dropbox, or you can subscribe to your feed like a podcast.

SoundGecko is the work of Long Zheng for those who know him.
October 19, 2012 17:15
Just for the stats, i use Clearly from Evernote. I think this tool combine & solve the readability and availability need i have!

tx Scott!
October 19, 2012 19:28
Nice tip. Don't have a Kindle but use Pocket(formerly Read it Later) for a similar effect. Though I usually pick up things on my iPad. And find the Pocket Firefox extension very simple to use to bookmark/read later links.
October 19, 2012 21:44
I've been using this strategy for a while now. However, I'm having a big problem! I'm still trying to find this so-called "Quiet, Uninterrupted Time"! :)

So now my Pocket queue is a graveyard of hundreds of things I want to read but never have the time to get to...
October 19, 2012 22:01
Thanks for the great article Scott. Lately I've noticed that Instapaper is not much reliable as it eats out a few of my bookmarks. Also, the mobile versions are not that great and there is not a simple way to organize things on the Instapaper interface.

On the other hand, I'm deep into Evernote and love the many possibilities that comes with it. As you said, for reference purpose I normally archive things into Evernote. So lately I've been archiving things into Evernote with the clever Clearly tool (with highlights on a few cases) and everything goes into my Inbox notebook.

At the end of the day or when I find time I read those articles and if it's worth it I'll move it to the appropriate notebook and that takes care of my "Read Later" and "Archival" need, all in one shot. I'm sure there's a IFTTT recipe to get those notes to Kindle.
October 19, 2012 22:31
Robert Dougan - Yes, it will work. Each Kindle app "instance" has its down unique email address.
October 20, 2012 0:03
I've tried both Instapaper and Readability. I prefer Readability, but as another commenter stated, the workflows (including Send to Kindle) are identical.

Readability seems to have a slightly more elegant Read Now / Read Later in-browser solution. From what I've seen, Readability's "readable" version of a page is superior to everything out there. It consistently renders an excellent-looking article, free from all the distracting, obnoxious, or obscene stuff on sites these days. And Readability's iPad app is great. I use my iPad almost exclusively now, using the Kindle app on it for Amazon content. Simply using "Read Now" or "Read Later" gets it onto my iPad - don't even have to do a "Send to".

I suppose the only thing I don't like about Readability is that its "readable" version of a page is at a URL. But that's not that big a deal to me.

October 20, 2012 1:24
As a long-time Instapaper user (fan?), unfortunately, the guilt soon migrates from tabs to unread Instapaper articles.
October 20, 2012 12:22
Thanks for sharing that article: I didnt know that tool, its pretty cool! Before that we didnt use automation but had a wordpress plugin automaticly pushind new articles to twitter/etc. Thanks!
October 20, 2012 16:34
It does indeed, very cool, thanks for the tip!
October 20, 2012 22:46
If you like readability you should try the Windows 8 Read it Better App ;)
October 23, 2012 11:15
I use the same setup, and I love it. One thing that I'm missing is the ability to send all Instapaper folders to my Kindle. Currently you can only send your Read Later folder to your Kindle. I have several Instapaper folders and it would be nice to send them all, or choose which one to send. I have Tech folder, Movie folder, Comic folder, etc. (to which I also have bookmarklets), so it would be nice to be able to send them to my Kindle as well, instead of just your Read Later. The current Instapaper features, does not support organizing your pages...
November 13, 2012 2:23
Hey Hanselman,

The link to the page is using a broken bookmarklet. I tried to use it and it no workie :(

Using my new found skills by reading your blog, I F12-ed the ba$t4rd and realised it was 404-ing on the GET request to save.

BTW if you log in to instapaper, there is bookmarklet on that page which does work.

Later mate...
October 07, 2013 23:30
Ironically leaving this open in a new tab to read it later.
October 07, 2013 23:34
I use Pocket, but after several years now .. I have hundreds of unread articles ..
I wish Pocket or Instapaper can *categorize* links based on content or give me similar articles in my queue
October 07, 2013 23:58
I'm currently thinking about acquiring a paperwhite. currently I'm using Pocket + my android tablet. I'd prefer a kindle however to at least protect my eyes a little better than reading on a tablet given that I'm in front if a computer the whole day.

my only doubt is the quality of the website content with instapaper. I mean does it work nicely with source code? I read people complaining about images not being displayed...
the second thing is PDFs as i read lots of them... technical books mostly..

could you share any experiences? thx :)
October 09, 2013 4:22
No.. Tabs are useful as hell,and it all comes down to what you want to do.

I use tabs when working off my web based work list of tickets. Working from one tab would mean clicking back and waiting for the work list to refresh every time.

So... Computers are dumb. Some people are dumb too. Use the tools how you see fit.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.