App No. 7 (Dec 9th) Instapaper

Instapaper icon Instapaper

Today is for the avid readers amongst you…who have no time to read!

One of the easiest ways to save and store online content for reading later offline is to use the Instapaper app. Basically, Instapaper helps you regain control over when and where you read – a move that Instapaper’s maker, Marco Arment, has termed “time-shifting” your reading!

Instapaper can be installed on your mobile device and is available on both the iTunes App Store and on Google Play for free. There is a web-based version also so online content can be saved to your Instapaper account from your PC/Mac browser as well by using the Instapaper Bookmarklet .

Red pin What does the Instapaper app look like, what does it do, and how do I start using it?

Instapaper Interface screenshot

Screenshot of Instapaper

Once you have created your Instapaper account, choose the ‘share’ button on any article or YouTube or Vimeo videos that you are reading or watching and choose Instapaper from the list of options available – and that’s it! ( If you don’t see ‘Instapaper’ in the share menu, just choose the ‘more’ option and then turn on the Instapaper option.) The article/video is now saved to your Instapaper account. Once you open the app you will see all of the articles and videos there that you have saved, just like in the screenshot above. You can also email links to articles (or even long emails that you want to read later) to your Instapaper account by emailing them to the unique email address associated with your Instapaper account. You will find this email address in the settings.

Tap any article to read it and you will be presented with a text only version, so all of the annoying ads etc. will have been removed. Personalise your view by adjusting the font, text size, background and text colour, margins, and line spacing preferences by tapping the “Aa” icon for the controls.

What else can you do? Well…
– You can create folders and organise your saved articles and then archive or delete them when you’re finished reading them. (This is done via the ‘edit’ option on the top of the screen.)
– You can highlight sections of text and those highlights are all referenced and saved together in the ‘highlights’ area as can be seen on the left menu in the screenshot above, so never lose the perfect quote again!
– Browse for editor’s choice of articles, and connect your social accounts (i.e. facebook and twitter etc.) to find articles shared by your friends. they can also see articles that you have ‘liked./
– You can email someone a link to the article if you need to.
– And, you can even get Instapaper to read the article to you!

Red pin Is this app of any use to my students in the context of their studies?
yellow square orange square 
Yes of course if is. They can use it to save online content and videos associated with their modules and coursework/project work, and share those with you and their peers. So, content curation made social! It won’t exactly transform learning activity as per the SAMR model but useful all the same so worth including as part of this #12appsDIT initiative.

Red pin Can I make Instapaper work even harder for me?
Actually, yes you can! Have you ever heard of IFTTT recipes?

IF This Then That image

These recipes allow you to set up all sorts of triggers and actions, so when you do one thing, another thing happens automatically. So to explain, you can set up recipes like:

If my phone connects to the wifi network at my workplace, then turn my phone to vibrate”

“If I take a photo, save it to a specific Dropbox folder”

And even ones like the following that you can set up to help you break your habit of taking selfies! I kid you not! Check it out here.

“If I take a photo with the front-facing camera, email me a GIF of Colin Farrell looking really disappointed, with the subject line ‘Selfie? Really?'”

There are IFTTT recipes you can set up in conjunction with Instapaper and you can view ready made ones on their site here. Ones such as these might interest you:

“If when watching a video on YouTube I choose ‘watch later’, save that video to Instapaper”

“If I move an article in Instapaper into a specified folder, share that article on LinkedIn”

“If I favourite a tweet, save the links in that tweet to Instapaper”.

If you’d like to make up your own recipes then you can do that from this IFTTT website.

Red pin Optional Task
1. Download Instapaper from either the iTunes App store or Google Play
2. Browse the Internet for articles on a topic of your choice and using the ‘share’ option, save a few articles to Instapaper, then view them within the app
3. Personalise your view of those saved articles on Instapaper by changing the background colour and text style etc.
4. Check out the IFTTT recipes for Instapaper and see if any would improve your workflow.

Twitter logoTwitter
Don’t forget to tweet #12appsDIT your opinion of Instapaper, or indeed post a comment below. Let us know your ideas on how to use it effectively. The more we share, the more we learn!

All materials provided on The 12 Apps of Christmas at DIT blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Licence
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

19 Responses to App No. 7 (Dec 9th) Instapaper

  1. docpipnz says:

    Looks interesting, Frances – but it would take a lot to wean me off diigo! Mark Glynn introduced me to that and I use it heaps. Having said that, the ‘if/then’ function in Instapaper could be handy – kill off those selfies! Again, thanks for the sharing and I can’t wait until the final link to all 12 apps is available and I can send it out to interested people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • fboylan says:

      Pip – you can set up IFTTT with Diigo too – see


    • Yes, Diigo is really nice – I think that it (or a similar web annotation platform) could be introduced early on in HEI to get learners used to it as a tool for annotating the web. Any students I show this to are amazed that it’s possible and I usually get the ‘why did no one tell us about this before’ comment. More and more I’m leaning towards providing first years with a ‘toolkit’ of some sort -it would be a worthwhile investment of their time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Geraldine Gray says:

        A first year toolkit is a very interesting idea Steve


      • fboylan says:

        I agree with Geraldine. I’m up for helping put one together if anyone else out there wants to work on a cross-institutional project? There is supposedly another call for funded projects coming out from the National Forum before Christmas….


  2. I would be very interested in helping compile a Year 1 (and all years!) toolkit – it would be of huge benefit to them. Count me in! Tracy Hegarty

    Liked by 2 people

    • Count me in too. I think that they can be persuaded about the value and utility of a lot of this ‘stuff’ (technical term…) if you can catch them early on. Part of a connected campus idea maybe


      • fboylan says:

        Ok – looks like we’ve got ourselves, potentially, a project! Let’s see if the National Forum put out the call for funding as expected and then take it from there. If the criteria (i.e. aligning projects with the Digital Road Map) is the same as their last call, then something like this ‘toolkit’ would fit in nicely. If not, I’m still interested in making it work and will follow up with you all in the New Year! What an interesting possible outcome from an open discussion about apps in education 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Geraldine Gray says:

        You can count me in as well

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have used Instapaper on and off for a while now. Sort of comes in spurts and then I tend to forget about it for a while until I come across something I read that I want to save/share.
    But its inclusion here has got me thinking about using it with my students – or more specifically as an add-on to written assignments where there is an expectation students will reference articles beyond recommended course reading. Not sure exactly how this might work but requiring them to provide an Instapaper-type account of the articles used and referenced (Ok, I know it’s not Harvard etc) along with the assignment submitted could work.

    I’d be interested to hear others’ views on this.

    Cheers again Frances – more food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    • fboylan says:

      The only problem here is that the types of articles you’d like them to be reading for some assessments (i.e. peer reviewed) cannot necessarily be saved to Instapaper. However, if the assessment is on something like digital marketing and they have to review websites etc etc then it would be perfect. Diigo might be better for the social curation of peer reviewed articles.


  4. Cindy Rudy says:

    If you are interested in having a “Yank” help out with the toolkit project, I’m game. I had not thought of the IFTTT idea for Instapaper – thanks for adding to my repertoire!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kcor1964 says:

    Instapaper as an ePortfolio tool?


  6. docpipnz says:

    Folk may be interested in a project just kicking off with National Forum funding, a collaboration between a number of Irish institutions including my own DCU.
    While it’s likely much broader than what is being proposed here, you might like to be aware of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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