Pinboard - Features, Pricing, Alternatives, and More

Stephanie Gonzaga
Reviewed by Stephanie Gonzaga
Last updated November 23, 2015

If opening your bookmark manager is akin to walking into a room ravaged by a tornado, you need a better solution for managing online content. But what if you don't want a public bookmarking solution like Delicious or Pinterest?

Pinboard offers an alternative with a starkly simple bookmark manager. With a plain-text design that recalls the earlier days of the web, it's designed as a digital repository for your bookmarks that's fast and easy to you. You can save, tag, and archive articles, videos, and Twitter updates to read and use later on, and find items again later easily with search. Whether you’re collecting scholarly articles for your term paper or organizing hundreds of bookmarks saved over the years, Pinboard makes it dead simple to do so, no matter the size and volume of your saved content.

Founded in 2009, Pinboard achieves its simplicity and speed through its clean and lightweight design. When logged in, you’re greeted with a master list of all of your saved links on the left side of the screen, and a list of tags on the right. There are no drop down menus, animations, and custom fonts to slow the service down. Everything is housed in a white space, with a simple list of your bookmarks and notes saved over time.

To begin using Pinboard, you simply save a bookmark from your browser to Pinboard. You can add and organize a bookmark in several ways, the most basic being the add url option found on Pinboard’s top menu. You can then copy and paste the URL of the page and add a title, description, and tags to the bookmark for context. Once you’re done, hit the add bookmark button to save.

You’ll find a plethora of options to save bookmarks to Pinboard. Browser extensions and a bookmarklet are two other ways to save bookmarks from your browser. You’ll also find a number of iOS and Android apps designed to save bookmarks to your Pinboard account and more in Pinboard's Resources page.

There are a ton of online bookmarking tools, but most focus on sharing links. Not Pinboard. It gives you extensive control over privacy. The majority of Pinboard’s user base do not share public content, and so you can rest assured that your saved bookmarks are yours for you to view and organize alone.

The design of a bookmark is a clear indication of Pinboard's focus on privacy. If your account is set to public and you’d like to save a private bookmark, Pinboard displays this with a darker background. This sets the bookmark and all of the associated information private from other users. If you’d like to set a tag as private, simply start a tag with a period to do so. Finally, you can configure your account to set all of your content as private by clicking on Settings > Privacy > Add bookmarks as private by default.

Want to set all of your bookmarks as private? Pinboard offers a privacy-related account feature called ”privacy lock,“ which hides your profile from public view and makes it virtually impossible to save your bookmarks as public. It then removes the gray background for easier reading and organization. If you prefer to run Pinboard as a private user, you can turn privacy lock on as soon as you sign up for an account. But, if you want to share bookmarks, you can do so—and you can also search through others' public bookmarks to help discover other great online content.

It's easy to collect thousands of links with Pinboard, so how does one manage and organize it all? Tags are Pinboard’s way of categorizing bookmarks, wherein a bookmark can have any number of tags that are easy to filter through. You can use the search feature to view your bookmarks or other public bookmarks with that tag, filtered by up to four tags at a time. Add tags by typing one-word descriptors separated by a comma in the tags field when saving a bookmark.

Tag bundles are another unique feature where you’d combine any number of tags and view their corresponding bookmarks in one page. It’s a great way to organize multiple similar tags and, ultimately, bookmarks for similar content and topic. To create and use tag bundles, you would first enable the feature by going to Settings and clicking Enable tag bundles (experimental feature). Return to your dashboard and click on no tag bundles where you’ll be directed to a new page to create a new tag bundle. Click on + new bundle to select and move existing tags into a bundle. Give your bundle a name and hit the save button. That'll let you see bookmarks with a set of tags all in one place—especially handy for research.

The great thing about Pinboard is that many of its core features (e.g. notes, RSS feeds, import/export) are available to users for a reasonable annual fee of $11/year. However, if you’d like a complete archive of all of your saved content to reference and use for life, you can opt to pay $25/year to upgrade to an archival account. This enables Pinboard to crawl, store, and retrieve a cached copy of every bookmark in your account indefinitely, even if the page has gone offline. What’s more, Pinboard will be able to identify bookmarks that have dead links and errors, allowing you to remove and organize your archive further. And if your Twitter accounts are equally important, Pinboard can log every Tweet you post for a complete backup of your online conversations.

Pinboard's perfect for the dedicated online researcher, or anyone who wants one place to store all their online content 100% privately. And it's simple enough that it just might be perfect for anyone who wants a simple way to organize hundreds and thousands of bookmarks, without having to worry if that article you enjoyed got deleted over time.

Have any feedback on this overview, or something we should change? Let us know!

Pinboard Features

  • Save, organize, and manage any number of bookmarks seamlessly

    • Sync bookmarks from other websites and services, including Pocket, Instapaper, and Twitter
    • Access all bookmarks or share them with an RSS feed
    • Save private plain-text notes
    • Import/export bookmarks in popular formats
    • Connect up to three Twitter accounts for a searchable archive of all of your tweets
    • Keep an archived copy of every bookmarked site with an archival account

Pinboard Pricing

  • $11/year basic account with Pinboard’s core features

    • $25/year Archival account for additionally saving a copy of every site you bookmark for access if the site goes offline

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