Dear Lifehacker, I love finding different tips and tricks online, but I often find that many of them are most useful days, months, even years down the line. What’s the best way to save and organise all this cool stuff so I can actually find it when I need it?
Lost in the Web
You have a lot of options to choose from, and it really depends on how you want to organise everything. Some methods are also better if you want offline access — say, for a collection of camping recipes — while other work great if you don’t mind just saving the links. Either way, the real trick is organisation so you don’t have to sift through everything you’ve ever read. Here are a few different ways you can save all that stuff.
Use A Read It Later Service With Tagging
If the type of content you want to save is mostly reading material, then your best bet is to use one of the read it later services services like Readability or Pocket that support tagging. Both services have browser extensions (Readability, Pocket) that allow you to quickly save links, and the next step is organisation.
Create a tagging system you’ll actually use. In Readability, simply click the “Add Tags” link, and in Pocket, click the pencil icon. For example, if you’re collecting a bunch of camping-related links, create a camping tag, then maybe separate those even further with tags like “gear” or “recipes” so you can instantly find what you’re looking for.
The benefit of this system is two-fold. First off, Readability and Pocket both work in every operating system, and on pretty much every mobile device so you can save web pages from anywhere. Second, they both offer offline access, so if, for example, you’re going camping, you don’t have to worry about finding an internet connection so you can read the links you save.
Use A Notebook System Like Evernote Or Springpad
If tagging everything in a read it later service isn’t doing the trick for you, a notebook app like Evernote or Springpad might do the trick. These services allow you to create personal notebooks to store links, ideas, and any other reminders you might need.
To use this effectively, you’ll want to do two things: create a notebook for each type of link you want to save (for example, a “Camping ideas” notebook), and then tag your links with relevant information as you add them in so you can cross reference if need be. We’ve walked your through getting the most out of Sprinpad before and the same basic tenets apply to Evernote as well.
However, if you want to use either of these services when you don’t have an internet connection, you’ll need to take the additional step of copying the relevant information into a note before you go offline. Neither service saves links for offline reading the same way the read it later services do, so you need to actually copy the text you need.
Organise Your Bookmarks So They Actually Make Sense
If webapps and organizational systems are more than you really need, your browsers handy bookmarks feature is still a useful tool to save relevant links as long as you organise them as you go along.
In Firefox, you can do this by tagging your bookmarks, which is built into Firefox itself. When you drop in a new bookmark, add a relevant tag, and it’ll organise everything automatically. On Chrome, you can use an extension like Bookmarks Tagger, SuperSorter, or Stashmarks to do the exact same thing. Of course, you can also just make new folders for each type of link you’re saving as well.
When all is said and done, it’s about picking a system that you’ll actually use. The key is that you organise as you save all your links so you’re not stuck digging through thousands of animated GIFs when you’re looking for that PC build tutorial you saved a year ago.
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