I confess, I was prepared to dismiss Pocket for Mac when I first heard about it.
After all, I thought: I already have Pocket on my Mac. It sits in my browser, where its life began and where I think it belongs. It is software born of the web. It should live on the web.
But I changed my mind pretty fast after trying out the native app, downloaded from the Mac App Store. Because it’s gorgeous.
One thing that’s immediately obvious is that there’s not a lot to see. Not a lot of app that gets in the way, I mean. Your stuff – the chunks of internet that you’ve saved from your browser, or from Twitter, or from something, somewhere, on some other device – are presented front and center. They’re given the limelight.
All of Pocket’s controls are sensibly laid out, but not clamouring for your attention. If you need them, they’re there. Otherwise, you don’t have to think about them. A very helpful set of keyboard shortcuts is also in place, so you can move around between items, archive and delete them, or open them again in a browser window with a single keypress.
There are nice little touches everywhere. A thing that lets you restore items you deleted by mistake. Another thing that lets you save new items with whatever’s on your computer’s clipboard.
And context: I love this bit. If you save an item to Pocket from Twitter, you don’t just get the saved link. You also get the tweet that sent you there in the first place, complete with all the familiar Twitter controls (reply, retweet, fave) that you’re used to seeing on Twitter itself.
The app has a lovely feeling of understatement. It doesn’t need to brashly show off; it demonstrates its purpose, and its value, just fine as it is. Calmly. Minimally. Without fuss.
There’s one thing missing: a direct connection to your browser. In other words, if you find something online while using Safari or Chrome or whatever, you still have to use the existing Pocket bookmarklet to put a new item into Pocket. That means that this native app is a viewer more than anything. You can add items here – using the paste-from-clipboard feature – but most of the time you’ll be viewing them.
For me, and I suspect a lot of other people, that need not be a problem. I use Pocket to get stuff from my phone or iPad to my computer, where I’ll be able to deal with it more effectively. Very rarely the other way round.
Another confession: When the thing formerly known as “Read it Later” first re-branded as Pocket, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what it was trying to be. I thought it was still trying to be a thing you use to save articles you want to read. But Pocket’s name was chosen with care, because that is the service it offers. You’ve found something on the internet, so you put it in your pocket. Later, you can pull it out, and examine it more closely.
This native app does that job very well indeed.