Raindrop.io is a beautiful, powerful – but also slightly confusing – bookmark manager. Most of us probably use the built-in bookmarks mangers on our browsers, but they are fairly limiting. For starters, even if you sync them across devices, your bookmarks are not accessible outside the browser. Secondly, almost every browser barely does the basics when it comes to bookmarks.
Raindrop.io – which is available on the Web as a browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera, and via apps for Android and iOS – lets you store your bookmarks and also makes it easier to organise them more efficiently. All this with an interface that’s a lot easier on the eyes than a basic list of bookmarks. It can also serve as a replacement for Pocket or Instapaper as your read-it-later service.
Think of it like this – what do you do when you come across a great article you haven’t read already? Well, there are a few different options available. You could read it right away, but we rarely have the time to read everything that we come across. Or you could just leave the tab open and hope that you come back to it when you have time – which is how you end up with 127 tabs open and your computer barely responding to anything.
You could store it as a bookmark in your browser, at which point you have a bookmark hidden away that you are probably never going to open. Or you could use a read-later service such as Pocket to save the page, which is great, but there are some issues with Pocket. It doesn’t handle videos too well, or very consistently, for one thing. Secondly, while it’s great for saving long articles to read, if you just want to bookmark a collection of pictures that you will need to use for work later, then Pocket isn’t the best way to do it.
Typically, we’ve used a combination of a read-later service (Pocket) for individual articles, and RSS feeds (Feedly) to track sites.Raindrop.io brings both these features together in a way and allows for a lot of control over how your links are being saved. It’s a very good looking app, which makes it easy to save all kinds of content, sort, and categorise it too. To categorise links, you can either add tags, or sort them into collections, which is just another way of saying folders.
There are also a couple of interesting features such as the duplicate finder – if you’ve been saving links for a long time, then it’s quite possible that you’ve made copies of the same link more than once, and getting rid of that becomes quite easy now. There’s also a broken link finder that goes through your saved links, and if any link isn’t working, removes that too.
But perhaps the most important feature is suggested tags – Raindrop.io looks at the page’s topics, and uses that to suggest tags, automatically helping you populate saved links with metadata that makes searching and rediscovering them simpler. Speaking of which, the search onRaindrop.io is excellent. It sorts your links by date by default, and you can search for tags, words in the title, words in the body, and so on. You can search for your images and videos, and you can search through specific collections if you want. It’s pretty great, if you’ve spent the time categorising and tagging your links properly.
You can also import links from your browser’s bookmarks, or from sites like Pocket. Importing requires you to first export an HTML file from each source, and then upload that to Raindrop.io, which is a little cumbersome. It was also a little slow – after we uploaded the HTML file of our Pocket links, it took around 10 minutes to add almost 6,000 links. As mentioned above, links can be categorised into different collections, which can also be nested – so for example, you could have a Comics collection, where you keep bookmarks to articles about comic books, and inside that, you can have nested collections for Marvel and DC.
That’s a little obsessive, but if you’re the kind of person who’s collecting links about comic books, there’s a fair chance that you’re a little obsessive anyway. You could create a trips collection, where you save articles related to travel, and inside that, you could create specific collections of articles about different places you want to visit. It’s really up to you to figure out what you want to do with this, and how it works for you.
That said, there is one important caveat. While Pocket is a read-later service that downloads articles on your phone to read later,Raindrop.io is a bookmarking service. It isn’t making offline copies of articles, and if you are in airplane mode – suppose you’re on a flight, or traveling without data roaming – thenRaindrop.io isn’t going to help much.
That’s not the only issue either – some of the best features of Raindrop.io are locked behind the Pro upgrade. It’s not expensive – working out to only $3 per month, or less than Rs. 200. Features such as nested collections require Pro mode, as do tag suggestions, duplicate finder, and broken link finder. These definitely add a lot of value, particularly suggested tags, so if you’re planning on using Raindrop.io, switching to Pro will make sense.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to use a bookmarking tool. For many of us,Raindrop.io is going to be a little intimidating, with too many features, and functionality that’s not always evident or easy to use. The simplicity of Pocket, which can appear to be a limiting factor, also helps out here. If you don’t like the way Pocket handles video, you could also try out Vookmark, a made-in-India video bookmarking app.
For some of us, the combination of Pocket and Feedly serves to meet all our needs – Pocket lets you keep the best individual articles, while Feedly keeps you on top of everything that you want to track. Plus, Pocket has a handy integration with Feedly which keeps the whole process pretty seamless. If you’re not interested in maintaining an offline backup though, then switching over to Raindrop.io seems like a good option.