Pinboard: How to Expunge the Internet Bookmark Service

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The Pinboard online service is currently arguably the best tool to manage Internet bookmarks across platforms. We introduce the web service and the best pinboard apps for macOS and iOS, and give tips on how to use them.

In times of powerful search engines, the use of Internet bookmarks may seem archaic. Why maintain a collection of Internet addresses when Google, Bing and Co. present page-by-page results after entering a search term? However, anyone who has tried to find a particular website in vain using a search engine knows the answer.

If This Than That

Using the Internet service IFTTT, you can chain Pinboard to many other web services besides Dropbox (see Workshop) – for example, bookmarks that have a specific keyword, pass Google’s email service to a Kindle, or flagged as a favorite in Reddit Automatically create posts as pinboard bookmarks.

Internet bookmarks are still valid after a quarter of a century. Therefore, the bookmark feature is a standard feature of a contemporary browser. And Apple has also integrated everything necessary to set up and manage a bookmark collection in Safari for Mac, iPhone and iPad. With one click, tip or the keyboard shortcut [cmd] + [d] an interesting website moves into the collection. Thanks to iCloud comparison, you can also add new items to your iPhone while on the go.

Commit bookmarks

However, many users are denied the actually useful bookmark feature, she does. Only if you build a bookmark collection with a well-thought-out taxonomy, sort bookmarks into folders and strive for decent names, you will find what you are looking for – even if the bookmarks then do not point to the void, because the source no longer exists.

Web service as a solution

A solution to almost all bookmarking problems is offered by Pinboard. Web developer Maciej CegÅ‚owski has been running this service for almost ten years, marketing it as an “asocial bookmarking service”. An allusion to the high value that the privacy of users has. The now about 25,000 Pinboard users decide for themselves whether they want to keep their bookmark collection for themselves or share parts up to the entire collection with others.

Adjust Pinboard

To handle user requests as effectively as possible, the pinboard page is plain. If the sadness bothers you, you can change the look with the help of CSS files. Using the Safari extension User CSS you can give the Pinboard page a new look. Patterns can be found in the public Pinboard bookmarks, if you search for the tags “Pinboard” and “CSS”.

Pinboard is chargeable – every year a fee of 11 Euro is due. The functionality of Pinboard is simple and basically similar to what is known from browsers: users add the URL to an interesting page to Pinboard and the service saves it.

However, a pinboard bookmark is not just the address and title of a post. In addition, users can add a description of the page of any length and tags. Pinboard automatically adds when a bookmark has been added and – if a bookmark has been marked as “public” and thus visible to others – like many Pinboard users have the same bookmark in their collection. Finally, you can mark a link as read or intended for later reading. Also for users with mobile devices is thought: The operator offers an optimized version of the page for iPhone, iPad & Co.

Simple filing

To make the addition of new bookmarks as easy as possible, Pinboard offers so-called “Bookmarklets” on. These are short javascript commands that are saved like a bookmark in the browser. Clicking on the bookmarklet opens a window with information about the opened webpage and the option to add this bookmark to Pinboard. If text is marked on the page, it is automatically inserted in the description of the bookmark.

Alternatively, you can add by using a browser extension that adds a button to the toolbar of the browser. Such extensions of the Pinboard developer are available for all common browsers. Recommended enhancements by third-party vendors include Cloudmarks for Safari, which allows you to add new bookmarks as well as browsing the bookmark collection. A recommendation for Chrome users is Pinboard Plus. To make contact with the Pinboard collection, the extensions require you to enter the Pinboard API token found on the Pinboard page under Settings> Password.

Finally, you can create new bookmarks also by email to Pinboard add. The corresponding function must first be activated on the Pinboard website under “Settings”> “E-mail”. Pinboard then displays the personal e-mail address. The text in the subject line is the title of the bookmark, the first part of the email text interpreted by Pinboard as a URL. Optionally, a description and keywords can follow. This is useful if you want to create bookmarks from a mobile device. However, you should keep this email address a secret, as anyone can use this bookmark to add to the Pinboard account.

Keywords instead of Folders

Pinboard tracks instead of sorting folders a different approach to provide overview even in large collections: Tags, probably the greatest strength of the service. You can add any number of terms to each Pinboard bookmark (even subsequently), assigning them to areas of interest or areas of life, for example. This also works for several bookmarks at once.

Pinboard lists all currently used keywords in a long list; the more frequently a keyword is used, the larger it appears in the presentation. After selecting a keyword from this list, Pinboard displays all its bookmarks. So you can find recipes, articles or entertaining Youtube videos with just one click. When researching the bookmark collection, you can combine up to four keywords. To find a recipe for yourself among thousands, you can search by preselection for “recipe”, “meat”, “summer” and “casserole”. Alternatively, it is possible to combine any number of keywords into a so-called “Tag Bundle”, for example, to see all summer recipes for casserole with meat at the click of a button.

Stable Archive

For a $ 25 annual fee, Pinboard retains copies of pages referenced by bookmarks. These can also be accessed by Pinboard users if the original pages are no longer available.

When adding new bookmarks, Pinboard optionally proposes suitable keywords automatically.

Personal or general?

Via “Settings”> “Privacy” you can specify whether newly added bookmarks should be visible to other users. If you make all the bookmarks available to the public, you can mark a single bookmark as non-public by using the keyword “p”.

At the URL are the bookmarks of each Pinboard user visible, who has not marked this as “private”. Everyone is free to search the entirety of public Pinboard bookmarks. To do this, use the URL scheme t: KEYWORD. It is also possible to search for multiple (up to four) keywords ( KEYSTONE2). For example, the input “” lists a curated collection of spicy pasta recipes – without the paid entries that make a Google query so cluttered.

Pinboard Apps for the Mac

To manage a Pinboard collection on the Mac, we recommend Spillo (12.50 euros). Similarly, Apple Mail puts the application on a three-columned appearance. The contents of the left column allow you to switch between a list of keywords and useful categories. Noteworthy among the latter are the display of orphaned links in the collection or entries without tags. With their help, you can effectively clean up and maintain a collection. The middle column contains the bookmarks associated with a selected category or keyword. In the right third Spillo represents the content of the bookmark. In principle, Spillo loads the website, but optionally the app can also switch to a readability view, which reduces the presentation to the essentials and freed from advertising. As an alternative to the Pinboard bookmarklet you can load browser extensions for Safari, Chrome and Firefox on the manufacturer side. If you add interesting websites to Spillo with their help, the software automatically adds a description and makes suggestions for keywords.

The all-rounder Readkit (11 Euro) is primarily an RSS reader, but also comes with later versions. Read services Instapaper and Pocket clear and understands the management of pinboard bookmarks. The three-column look is similar to Spillo’s, but without its useful categories. Also, the otherwise versatile software offers no way to subsequently change tags or description of pinboard bookmarks. Like Spillo, Readkit presents articles in a tidy readability view on request. Thus, readkit is at best a recommendation for research and reading. Pleasant, however, are the ways to customize color and font. With numerous software interfaces, you can pass articles to other services.

Pinboard Apps for iPhone and iPad

In its design, Pushpin (11 euros) on the iPad is very similar to the Mac App Spillo. In a bar, the app lists various categories in which the bookmark collection can be divided – such as those without keywords or excellent as a favorite. In addition, Pushpin offers public bookmark categories from the Pinboard network. Alternatively, Pushpin can also display a list of keywords or a search function with powerful filter options in the bar, which can be saved as bookmarks for later use. Horizontal swipe gestures allow you to delete and edit bookmarks. Especially useful is the possibility to select several bookmarks in order to process them in a collected form. Pushpin offers a custom reader view when selecting a bookmark that filters out ads and other annoying things. Offline mode allows you to load entire pages onto an iPhone or iPad. Pushpin also adds an extension to the iOS sharing menu, so you can easily add links to the bookmark collection from any application.

The Internet Archive

After years, many links in a well-maintained bookmark collection are pointless – because websites have been given a new structure or the operators have deleted them. The Internet Archive is an online library where you can find backup copies of many sites that are no longer online (see above).

A cheaper but functionally stripped-down alternative is Pinner (5.50 Euro). In the case of the iPad distribution, this app also relies on two columns, however, the contents of the left sidebar always remain consistent; when selecting the tags they are displayed in the right half of the window – less effective than the view at Pushpin. Also makes the app in their grayscale a rather bleak impression – as a splash of color are only the icons of the respective websites. Pinner is optimized for iOS 11 and can operate in split-screen mode. Again, you can edit several bookmarks at the same time, but only the public status can be changed, not the tags. With the Share menu extension, Pinner scores points with the Quick Pin feature, which adds a Pinboard bookmark without further ado and user input.

The free Simplepin is the ideal candidate for pinboarding on the iPhone and iPad. In the center of the plain, App stands a search function. By entering several terms, the display is thinned out until the desired one is left. The developer renounces categories or comfort functions, even the extension for the sharing menu offers only the bare essentials. Simpleboard can be run in split-screen mode.


Pinboard is a powerful and currently probably the best tool to keep track of a bookmark collection across platforms. With the appropriate apps for Mac, iPhone and iPad you have access to your bookmarks archive at any time. In addition, research in public bookmarks in many cases promotes more useful results than conventional search engines.

Workshop: How to Import Your Mac Bookmarks into Pinboard

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