How I Use Pinboard

Posted by at

For the past year, I’ve been asked on multiple occasions by MacStories readers about Pinboard, and I thought it’d be fun to address that question with a detailed explanation of my usage of the service.

I love Pinboard. I realize that it may be somewhat strange to share such feelings for a web service, therefore allow me to rephrase it: I love what Pinboard’s creator Maciej Cegłowski has been doing with the service and I love Pinboard’s focus and direction.[^twitter]

Pinboard is a bookmaking service purposefully devoid of complicated social features and primarily aimed at personal bookmarks. If you’ve been on the Internet for a few years, you may be familiar with Pinboard as the straightforward alternative to Delicious from the days when Delicious used to be a bookmarking service, and that still holds true. Fundamentally, Pinboard is a service to save links.

In spite of its simplicity and barebones presentation, Pinboard is packed with clever options and settings that you can use to tailor the experience to your needs. There are compatible apps (Pinboard has an API), bookmarklets, RSS feeds, and many other tricks and hidden tips that can considerably improve your usage of Pinboard, and I’m going to cover those, alongside some personal suggestions, in this post.


Pushpin, a powerful Pinboard client that was recently updated to version 3.0, got its first major update to 3.1 today, which introduces more advanced functionalities to get the most out of Pinboard navigation, feeds, and saved searches.

For keyboard users, a big change is the addition of keyboard shortcuts to the app. As documented on Lionheart Software's website, it's now possible to scroll through bookmarks, open the editing view, toggle statuses, and select fields using an external keyboard. This makes Pushpin one of the most versatile iOS 7 apps with keyboard integration.

In my previous coverage of Pushpin, I noted the lack of customization for feeds and sections in the app's sidebar, which forced me to keep certain items I wasn't interested in – such as Pinboard's Wikipedia and Fandom sections – always visible. In Pushpin 3.1, feeds on the main screen can be hidden and reordered; in combination with custom feeds for tags and users, Pushpin now has the most flexible main screen for users who want to tailor the Pinboard navigation experience to their needs – a solid enhancement if you use Pinboard as a news source more than a simple bookmark aggregator. In this version, Pinboard Notes make a comeback (although they're still read-only due to a limitation of the Pinboard API) and there's a new Recent feed to view all recent bookmarks from all Pinboard users.

For power users, an advanced search feature has been added, which can look for bookmarks that match specific criteria in a Pinboard account. Based off the SQLite FTS technology, advanced searches can be created with filters for URLs, titles, tags, and a combination (or exclusion) or multiple ones at once, opening up several options for searches that filter down specific results. The special syntax for advanced searches is limited to bookmarks for a configured account, which caused some confusion when I first tried the feature (it doesn't work with Pinboard's web search for public bookmarks).

With today's update, Pushpin has become the fastest, most customizable, and most powerful Pinboard client on my devices. With feed reordering and keyboard shortcuts, I can now navigate Pinboard with ease on my iPad, removing feeds that I don't need; overall, Pushpin has evolved into a fantastic, feature-packed Pinboard client with a clean interface and tons of options.

Pushpin 3.1 is available on the App Store.


Pinswift, a simple but powerful Pinboard client for iPhone that I reviewed in December, has today been updated to version 1.1, which introduces iPad support as a Universal app.



Pushpin, a full-featured Pinboard client that used to be my personal favorite before iOS 7, has today been updated to version 3.0, which brings a new design, a split pane interface on the iPad, and several other features. On the iPhone, I now prefer Pinswift, but Pushpin remains the best Pinboard experience for the iPad, which is where I spend most of my time bookmarking links and discovering new ones every day.


Pinswift for iPhone

Developed by Joel Carranza, Pinswift is a new $4.99 Pinboard client for iPhone that packs powerful bookmark management, discovery, and search features in an interface specifically designed for iOS 7. Since trying one of the early betas a couple of months ago, I’ve been keeping Pinswift on my iPhone’s Home screen as it offers (almost all) of the Pinboard functionalities I need on a daily basis. (more…)


Shiori is a nice new Pinboard client for Mac that lets you find and add bookmarks. The app can be configured to have two separate keyboard shortcuts for adding and finding items; alternatively, you can click on the app’s icon in the menubar and work with the dropdown menu (which also contains shortcuts for Refresh and Preferences).

The interface is clean and minimal, with tags highlighted in light blue/green; Shiori comes in the foreground with a list of the latest 7 bookmarks from your account (by default; you can show up to 10) and you can start typing to filter results. The app is extremely fast at retrieving items, and it supports abbreviations to look into bookmark titles, URLs, and tags. According to the developer, the app can get smarter over time by learning from your “habits” (I assume it means abbreviation use and choice of results in search).

There are other nice touches worth mentioning. There’s a Private URL feature to automatically make URLs that match criteria specified in the Preferences private in your Pinboard account; when adding a new bookmark, Shiori can get the active webpage URL and title from the browser (Safari, Chrome, and Firefox are supported) and provide a list of recommended tags (a feature of the Pinboard API).

Shiori is simple, elegant, and fast. Get it here for free.

Gabe Weatherhead has a good collection of tips to get the most out of Pinboard as a reading/discovery service. This is how I use Pinboard as well, but I've never thought of using RSS feeds like Gabe does. That's something I want to try soon.


Pushpin already was my favorite Pinboard app on the iPhone: with a great 2.0 update that added a redesigned interface and saved feeds, Pushpin gained a spot on my Home screen as the app I would open to access the full Pinboard experience. From my review:

At $9.99, Pushpin 2.0 is a powerful Pinboard client for users who want to use Pinboard to add bookmarks, manage them, and discover new ones using the service’s (lightweight) social features. Pushpin 2.0 looks great on the Retina display, and new features like Saved Feeds, new tag filtering and suggestions, and improved web browsing strike a good balance between advanced functionality and general usability. Pushpin 2.0 can be used as your only Pinboard client on the iPhone, packing both management and browsing features, and I’m looking forward to an iPad version.

With last night’s 2.1 update, Pushpin is now optimized for the iPad and it looks just as good as the iPhone version. Navigation takes places in a main screen (not a sidebar) where you can find links to your bookmarks, community links, and saved feeds. The iPad version works out of the box with the URL scheme of the iPhone app, and the developer added support for opening links in Dolphin, which is a fine browser with direct Evernote integration (the best of its kind on the App Store).

Pushpin benefits from the increased space of the iPad’s larger screen. For one, it’s much nicer to open links in the app’s built-in web view, and tapping & holding links in the list view opens a popover that doesn’t take over the entire screen; from the popover, you can easily copy a URL, copy a link to your account, or save an item to your read later service of choice.

Alongside speed improvements and bug fixes, saved feeds have been enhanced with support for from: tags: by combining these with regular usernames and tags, you’ll be able to see, for instance, what a specific user has saved from email or Twitter favorites – the app’s changelog on iTunes contains the full list of supported from: tags for your perusal.

Pushpin is a powerful all-in-one Pinboard app, and with an iPad version I can now enjoy the same experience on all my devices (I would like the ability to sync saved feeds, though). You can get Pushpin at $9.99 on the App Store.

Pushpin 2.0

On the first episode of The Prompt podcast, I chose Pushpin 2.0 as my weekly pick, and I thought the app deserved a mention here on the site as well.

In January, when I first reviewed Pushpin, I noted how the app didn’t look as good as Pinbook, another Pinboard client that, back then, didn’t support some of the power-user functionalities that were available in Pushpin. Many Pinboard clients have come out in the past few months; as MacStories readers know, my choices have always been Pinbook, Pushpin, and Pinbrowser – while these three apps were all made for Pinboard, each one of them had a peculiar feature that made it stand out. With Pushpin 2.0, I feel like the difference is now marginal, as the app takes important steps towards becoming the only Pinboard client you’d ever need to add, manage, and browse Pinboard bookmarks. (more…)