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Notion as a read later app

I was using Pocket which is nicely integrated with Firefox. Unfortunately, they have now introduced a paid plan if you reach more than five highlights — which may happen in just a single post!

Since that seemed a bit ridiculous to me, I started looking into alternatives.

I am a Notion maximalist — it’s a tool to make your own tools!

And, of course, Notion can be purposed to create a read later app.

Before jumping into it, I want to do a quick recap of other tools that I analyzed before deciding. Keep in mind that offline support and parsing websites into an easily readable format are key factors for me.

Hypothesis is super interesting because of its collaborative nature. However, it lacks offline support and just lets you annotate on top of websites, instead of parsing their content.

Instapaper is cool, but it also has a paid plan similar to Pocket’s.

Saving pages

Turns out that Notion has an amazing browser extension that enables you to save any site to it. It also works in iOS and Android.

It lets you save websites to a Notion database with the following parameters:

  • Title of the page as the ID property
  • URL of the page as a link property
  • Content of the page as the content of the item

With some tweaks, my read later database ends up looking something like this:

And this is how an article looks like:

Obviously there’s text and the actual body of the article after the image.

The properties are the interesting part. I added the following:

  • Tags: So that I can filter by them later.
  • External highlights: This is for other kinds of content, for example ebooks. I would then put there the URL to my Kindle highlights.
  • Knowledge: This is a relation to another database that stores the knowledge that I extract from different sources. This usually looks like one-liner summaries with a further explanation of the piece of knowledge written with by own words — that way, I make sure I understood it.

This is just one of the parts of my new Notion-powered learning system. Specifically, this is the way that sources get inputted for them to be read, understood and summarized. Then I have other parts that I use to build more actionable knowledge for the day to day.

Previously, I was using Pocket + Readwise — but for my needs, Notion can replace them!