A Beginner’s Guide to Pinboard
On Friday, May 4, 2012, I signed up for Pinboard, a website that lets you bookmark URLs.
My move to Pinboard was prompted when Yojimbo, unfortunately, got too big for its britches. In Yojimbo I had more than 600 bookmarks, plus hundreds of other notes and files and things. Alas, because Yojimbo doesn’t weigh its search results by relevancy, it became increasingly difficult to find what I was looking for. In short, the more I was adding to Yojimbo, the harder it became to find what I was looking for.
A good filing system is one where you can find whatever you’re looking for in less than a minute. As of this sentence I have 2,334 bookmarks — I use Pinboard to collect any and every URL that is or was interesting to me — and I’ve never had trouble finding what I’m looking for when I go to search for a particular bookmark.
I wanted to share a few of the tools and services I am using with Pinboard. If you are wanting to get more out of Pinboard, then hopefully this will help you out.
Pinboard is a great bookmarking service because it lives on the web, and so many of the apps and services I use every day can send bookmarks to my Pinboard.
For example: any article I “like” in Instapaper gets bookmarked to Pinboard; if a tweet that I “fave” has a URL in it, that URL gets bookmarked to Pinboard (you can configure this yourself in your Pinboard settings). And because Pinboard connects with IFTTT, you can set up a gazillion other ways to bookmark URLs.
In a nut, it’s very easy to add bookmarks into Pinboard. And it’s equally easy to find those URLs later by searching or by tag lists.
A Smarter bookmarklet
Beyond going to the Pinboard website itself and clicking the “Add URL” button, the most basic way to save a URL to Pinboard is through a bookmarklet.
I use Joel Carranza’s “Particular Pinboard” bookmarklet to save links when I am on a web page in Safari.
Joel’s bookmarklet is a bit more clever than the default ones found on the Pinboard website. It does some cleanup to the tile of the web page, populates the description field with selected text or else with the page’s description from the header, and will auto-add tags you use if they are relevant to the article based on keywords.
A Tag-Specific Quick Bookmark
Let’s say there is a tag you use often in Pinboard, and you want a way to save a URL using that tag with the least amount of fuss possible.
This will take your current Safari tab and save it to Pinboard using a pre-defined tag that you chose, all without showing you a pop-up dialog window or anything.
You know when you’re doing research on something and you end up with about 30 open tabs and then you don’t know what to do with them all?
Pinboard Tab collections are your friend.
This Safari extension will grab all of your open Safari tabs, organize them by windows (say you’ve got 3 windows with several tabs each) and then let you save them as a set.
Sometimes it’s nice to use this as nothing more than a placebo bookmark, when all you want to do is quit out of Safari and save your work for later (maybe).
There are some Mac menubar and desktop apps, but I don’t use any of them. I think the Pinboard website is very easy to use and so Safari is my go-to place for accessing Pinboard from my Mac.
Search via LaunchBar
If you use LaunchBar you can set up a custom Search Template for Pinboard that lets you enter your search query from within LaunchBar and then search the Pinboard site.
Bring up LaunchBar, click the “gear” icon that’s on the right-hand side, then go to Index → Show Index. Or hit OPT+CMD+I when LaunchBar is visible.
When the LaunchBar Index is up, click on the Search Templates label in the sidebar. Click “Add”. Name your Search Template something like “Pinboard”, and then place this code as the Details:
Now, bring up LaunchBar, type "Pinboard", hit Space Bar, type your search query, and hit Return.
I actually have two favorite iOS apps for Pinboard.
Pushpin: It has a clean interface, it's a universal app which works on iPhone and iPad, it lets me browse through my list of bookmarks, tags, and notes, and it offers access to Pinboard's Popular list and more.
Pinbook: This app has a more narrow focus than Pushpin does — Pinbook excels at search. Searching your bookmarks in Pinbook is fast, and you can search by Title, Tag, or Description. So if there is a particular tag you want to pull up, just search by tag.
I realize it's a bit nerdy to have two Pinboard apps. If I had to pick just one, it would be Pushpin. If you don't want to spend $10 on a Pinboard app, and you just want a nice way to add and find your bookmarks from your iPhone and iPad, get Pinbook. You won't be disappointed with either.
Pinboard is like Birdhouse was — there are many like it, but each person's is their own.
To get the most out of Pinboard it helps to have easy ways to save bookmarks, and then to know that you can search them when you need. Hopefully what I've shared above gives you some ideas for how you can use the service better.