Annotate web sites and pdf. Keep organized.

June 14, 2010

Nowadays we spend more time surfing the Internet than sleeping. Some of us work hooked in a browser, searching for information and managing it, and believe me, to keep track of relevant information is not an easy task.

Before we use to have cabinets where we stored our papers, now we have bookmarks, and other internet services. We have moved to have an Internet Explorer browser with favorites that are duplicated and useless as we used to just click favorite and forget about it, then 5 years later realize that we have hundreds of bookmarks in the office computer, different bookmarks at home, in our laptop… basically a useless mess.

The idea of this blog entry is to show a set of tools that can help you be organized in this chaotic Internet so you can be more productive.

If you are a bookmark type of guy, then what you need is synchronization. Be aware that syncronization of bookmarks is different depending on the browser you use.

Google Chrome

In the cases of Google Chrome browser if you have a google account, then all your google chrome browsers bookmarks can be synchronized.

So if you have Google Chome in the office and at home, if you add a new bookmark both will be synchronized. The way it is done is via Google Docs. There is a document there with all your bookmarks.


If you are a firefox type of guy then you have several plugins that will allow you to sync your bookmarks between firefoxes and the web. The most notable I would say is xmarks (previously known as foxmarks).


If you use safari then the best way to sync not just between safaris but also with your iPhone, iPad and so, it is using mobileme.

Browser Independent

Delicious in Safari

Now, if you are not married to a specific browser, then I would recommend Delicious. Delicious is a socialbookmarking but you have plugins for all browsers, so if you see a site you like or want to remember you just click on a button and the beauty is that you can access via web o via another button in your browser (no matter which one), plus it is very powerfull because it let you apply tags to your bookmarks (much better than folders) and decide if you want them public or private.

Delicious in Chrome

Delicious in Firefox

Other tools

Bookmarking is OK but not enough. We have been bookmarking for 20 years now. True that now we have synchronization and tagging, which makes life easier, but there are other tools that allow you to:

  1. Highlight parts of text of a website or PDF, add notes and share them. You can comment on a specific website or add some notes.
  2. Get a copy of the website offline and make it searchable
  3. If you don’t have the time to read something, with the click of a button you can add it to a cue of thing you have to read in your computer, iPhone or wherever when you have time.

This things have different tools.

1.- To annotate on websites and PDFs (which is very usefull) you can use:

a.nnotate, just for PDF. It is the pionner (I think). It is free if you don’t use it a look but it looks great. You upload a pdf and you can highlight stuff and add notes. Share, and so.

Lets annotate I discovered lately. It is also for PDF only and it is not as nice as a.nnote but it is free. In a.nnotate you can select text to be highlighted. In letsannotate you create a box with the mouse. It is good to provide comments on PDFs

Webnotes is by far my favorite, and the one I use. When you see a website click on the bookmark you have to add it to your webnotes and voila, you have the website with a top bar that allows you to highlight text, add post it’s, share it… and then you have an organizer where you can organise your websites and PDFs on folders and see the annotations.

2.- If you would like to have a copy offline of your website, Evernote does a great job. Its competitor Springpad might also do it (I have never tested as I am a devoted Evernote user).

With Evernote, if you see a site you want to remember then you click on the Evernote button in your browers (no matter which one you are using) and then you can access your evernote online or in your desktop sofware. If you want the site as you see it click on SHIFT+ the Evernote button (tip). It will be indexed and you can change the name and tag it as you wish.

3.- If you use twitter in your phone or you see a long article you can not read now, then there are a couple of tools that are great for this:

Instapaper (the one I use) has a bookmark you can have in your browser so you basically add the website you are reading or want to read to the cue of sites to read. The nice thing is that it has an iPhone (I don’t know about Android) app where the sites are transformed in text if you wish.

Readitlater is similiar.

Most of all services I mentioned here are free, and if you want more features, space, etc… then you have a pro payed plan.

Which ones I use?

  1. Webnotes. Specially to highlight parts of a website I find interesting.
  2. Evernote: not a lot for websites but I take photos of all the incoming mail, books, wine, receipts, etc… so they are indexed.
  3. Instapaper: if there is something I want to blog about, or I’m in the iPhone and theres is a link in a tweet that I would like to read later. Very handy.

1 comment

  1. Comment by biyang melia

    biyang melia Reply September 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I’m curious to find out what blog platform you’re utilizing?
    I’m having some minor security issues with my latest blog and I’d
    like to find something more secure. Do you have any recommendations?

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