On Pinboard (and a Few Tips)

Over the years, I've heard a ton of great things about Pinboard, which advertises itself as a "bookmarking website for introverted people in a hurry" (which in turn describes me to a T). As an avid user of both Instapaper and Evernote though, I had a difficult time envisioning a place for Pinboard in my life.

My typical reading/archiving workflow has looked something like this for a while:

Come across an interesting-looking article or link → Send it to Instapaper → Let it sit there for, oh I don't know, eight years? → Eventually get around to reading it → If it's good enough, the whole thing gets saved to Evernote — images, rich-text formatting and all.

This system has worked well enough, and I still love Instapaper as a read-it-later service, but I've been getting a little tired of the slowness in Evernote. I've built up a rather large collection of stuff over the last five years, and the app has become a bit sluggish as a result.

As nice as it is to have offline copies of these articles in case they're removed from the web (or even moved to a new URL), I can't help but wish for something a bit faster.

So, I've decided to give Pinboard a shot.

In the last few days, I've transferred all of the articles in Evernote tagged with "inspiration" (since they're the most important content to me) over to my brand-spanking-new Pinboard account. I thought it would be a tedious process, but honestly it's been pretty great. I'm revisiting a whole bunch of stuff that I had allowed to languish in Evernote, finding the most interesting quotes in each article, getting rid of stuff I had saved but no longer care about anymore, and cleaning up my tagging system a bit.

I have to say, the experience so far is very nice. I haven't yet upgraded to the premium account , which archives cached versions of all your bookmarks, but right now everything is very fast indeed.

I think I'm going to be very happy with Pinboard.

* * *

Now, in the short amount of time I've been using Pinboard, I've been putting together a list of little things that have helped me get more out of the service. Hopefully they'll help you too.


  • Use the Tab button to quickly insert previously-made tags as you're typing. Forget about typing each one in its entirety or clicking on the dropdown list.
  • There's no need to insert commas between tags, just use a space.
  • To create tags with multiple words, use dashes (e.g. 'shawn-blanc', 'david-foster-wallace', etc). Obviously very useful for author names.
  • Try not to keep too many tags lying around. Obviously this will be difficult as things accumulate over time — all I'm saying is, be mindful of how many one-time-only tags you may be creating along the way and avoid doing so whenever possible.
  • Just something to note: if you delete one of those 'one-time' tags from a post later on, Pinboard automatically removes it from the tag list as well. You don't have to go in afterward and try to "clean up" the tag list like you would in Evernote. This makes the OCD part of my brain very happy.


  • Highlight your favorite quote or other bit of text from an article before clicking the Pinboard bookmarklet. That text will be auto-inserted into the description field for you.
  • Although I mostly use the description field for quotes taken from the articles themselves, you can also add your own description if you feel it's more apt to do so. Personally, I like to delineate my own comments by [putting brackets around them like this]. Saves me the trouble of inserting quotation marks on the 99% of other bookmarks I save.
  • Don't bookmark every single thing you read. Ignore the temptation and only keep the stuff you think will truly be useful or inspiring to you later. I want my Pinboard to be a curated list of high-quality stuff, not an archive of every little thing I come across.
  • Don't be afraid to change the titles of things. At first I wanted to "stay true" to the articles' original names, but sometimes they're a bit too cluttered, honestly. Not to call him out or anything, but I always end up changing Patrick Rhone's article titles like so:

    patrickrhone / journal » Blog Archive » Habit Forming


    Patrick Rhone — Habit Forming

    Much nicer, right? (Sorry, Patrick.)

* * *

I'll be taking notes of other tips and tricks as I use the service, so you can expect a guide to the more advanced stuff later on.

Happy bookmarking!