Tools for saving things and keeping track of things online

6 Sep 2014, 1:22 p.m.

This post is a companion piece to one I wrote a while ago, on software tools for getting rid of unnecessary bits of information, which are drains on your attention. Here, I'm going to talk about some tools I like using to keep track of the information I do want. (I might write a third post in the future, about quantified self tools.) These are three of my favourite things on the internet and I thoroughly recommend all of them. Send to Kindle

  • I love my Kindle and find reading on an e-paper screen much easier on the eyes than reading from a screen.'s bookmarklet will send almost any webpage directly to the Kindle to be read at your leisure (it does have trouble with some JavaScript-heavy pages, and won't send PDFs). It was very easy to configure and works the best of any such tool I've found.
  • Extra tip: to send Project Gutenberg books quickly to the Kindle, view the HTML version of the book and hit the Send to Kindle bookmarklet.
  • There must be similar tools for other e-readers but I don't know which are good. Maybe someone can add them in the comments.


  • When Delicious died was acquired by Yahoo, I was heartbroken. Pinboard was the best of all the social-bookmarking sites I looked at to replace it, and updates over the years have made it far nicer to use than Delicious was in its heyday.
  • As well as a bookmarklet for adding a webpage to your, er, bookmarks, Pinboard allows you to save links via tweets and Twitter favourites. It will also backup all your tweets. I like this function a lot.
  • Pinboard lets you save links privately or publicly, tag them and "bundle" your tags to stay organised, and import/export your links, and has various other features. You can subscribe to other people's public bookmarks, and even do so anonymously. Social bookmarking for introverts!
  • A small feature but possibly my favourite one: when looking at bookmarks from your network, you can filter out the ones automatically added via Twitter. This means I don't have to worry about spamming anyone who both follows me on Twitter and subscribes to my bookmarks.


  • Suzy Hamilton was the one who introduced me to Workflowy, and I'm very glad she did. Workflowy is a website for making lists. You can write nested lists and zoom in to any level, as well as tagging lists and sharing lists between users.
  • I really like Workflowy because its list format is the same as the ones I make for myself, and it keeps them more accessible than writing them in text files or one of my dozens of notepads. I use it for shopping lists, to-do lists and project planning. I even have a Workflowy list of tattoos I want to get.
  • There is an iOS app for Workflowy. For people with Android smartphones, the mobile site works well and you can save a link to it as an icon on the front page or menu.


  • Edit: Whoops, I almost forgot this one. I think it fits into this post.
  • Anki is spaced-repetition software for memorising things. Probably the term 'flashcards' is a more familiar way of putting this for many people, but I was an annoyingly clever child who never needed to study in school, and so I've never made flashcards to learn anything: by the time I realised I actually needed to put effort into learning (and these days, do I ever), technology had moved on and SPACED REPETITION SOFTWARE was the order of the day.
  • Anyway, you can use Anki to learn foreign vocabulary, formulae and scientific terminology, and whatever else your heart desires. I've used it in the past to practise German words and should probably pick it up again, since I speak a lot less German in my current office than I did while volunteering at the Ludothek. You can download sets of cards or make your own, which I recommend, and the software will shuffle them around so that you see them at the correct intervals for effective learning.
  • Anki is available on all operating systems and phones, and you can sync your account between your phone and computer(s) so you can use it anywhere.