Indiepaper, an open alternative to Instapaper and Pocket

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This book is definitely meant to be read later -- it's not even written yet.
This book is definitely meant to be read later -- it's not even written yet.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Instapaper and Pocket are the big two read-later services. The former locked out European users for months and months earlier this year, and the latter is, well, it’s fine I guess. Both of them do a great job of letting you save articles from the web and read them later in a clean, text-and-images-only format.

But what if you want something controlled just by you? A read-later service that doesn’t mine your saved articles to make recommendations — one that just turns your read-later list into nicely formatted, text-only articles. Then you should try Indiepaper. Let’s check it out right now.

Own your own stuff with Indiepaper

Indiepaper is “a read later service built for the open web.” It offers apps and bookmarklets that let you save any article you find. Only instead of saving it to a proprietary service, it saves them in a spot of your choosing.

Indiepaper publishes your saved articles to your own micropub server. If you know what that is, great. If you don’t, then the easiest way to get one is to sign up with Micro.blog, a great Twitter alternative that I totally use and recommend.

Once you’ve done so, you just hook Indiepaper up to your micro.blog (I’ll show you how in a second). Then you have all your saved articles ready on a dedicated page.

Why use this instead of Instapaper? After all, it seems like a lot of hassle. The answer is that you probably shouldn’t, unless you care about owning your own “content.” Twitter, Pocket and similar services could shut down at any time, taking everything you created with them. Or you might finally get sick of using a web platform that supports nazis.

Using Indiepaper and Micro.blog is akin to owning your own email domain, and just picking an email service provider to host it for you. If you move on in the future, you take everything with you. Try that with something like Gmail.

How to get started with Indiepaper and Micro.blog

Step one is to head over to our guide to setting up a Micro.blog account. Accounts start at $5 per month for a fully hosted website and microblog. If you are just linking your existing site to the service, it’s free. The site has a getting started page in its FAQ, too.

Paste in your micro.blog URL here.
Paste in your micro.blog URL here.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Indiepaper sign-up

Then, go to Indiepaper and sign up. This part is super-easy. Just head to the site, and paste in the URL of your newly minted Micro.blog. Click login, and you’ll be taken back over to your micro.blog site to grant access. Once done, you’ll be spirited back to Indiepaper, where you will see this:

This is where you find your bookmarklets, and other goodies.
This is where you find your bookmarklets and other goodies.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Here you’ll see your unique login details. You can ignore those, unless you want to get fancy with Siri Shortcuts and the Workflow app. Make a note of them, though, just in case (they’re also available from your microblog account settings).

All you need to do is drag the Read Later bookmarklet to the bookmarks bar of your browser. You can also download a Mac app that adds an entry to the macOS Share Sheet so you can share from there. This can be configured automatically from the panel in the picture above — just click on the Configure Indiepaper App button.

Now, whenever you see something you want to read later, just click or tap the bookmarklet, and it will be saved.

Reading later with Indiepaper

To read your articles, just head to the special page on your microblog. It’s under the Accounts tab of your Micro.blog settings, and it’ll look something like this:

Your Indiepaper read later list.
Your Indiepaper read-later list.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Just click a title to read the article, or click the link to visit the original site. The articles look great:

A blog post saved and viewed in Indiepaper.
A blog post saved and viewed in Indiepaper.
Photo: Cult of Mac

RSS

Your read-later list also comes with an RSS feed, which lets you pipe all your saved articles into your favorite RSS reader or send them to another service. I’ve tried reading articles in my RSS reader, and it works great. The problem is, as soon as I start reading one, it is marked as read, and disappears from the app. So right now, I keep a bookmark of the special page on my microblog.

Own it or lose it

Twitter, Facebook and so on are not the internet. They are private services. And they have rules of entry, and rules of engagement, that can change at any time. Posting and saving your words and pictures to these sites will end in tears, sooner or later. Better to get out while you can. With Micro.blog, Indiepaper and other independent web services, you own everything you create or save.