Instapaper menu screenshot

Power users want to be able to do powerful things, even when provided with the simplest of tools. Smart people want to be able to do things smarter, and that usually involves figuring out some functions that the typical person might not bother trying. And that’s why a solution like Instapaper can be so great.

On the surface, Instapaper couldn’t be simpler: it’s a tool you use to save web content and articles that you want to read later, either on your computer or through the corresponding app for the iPhone and iPad. However, that’s only barely scratching the surface of what you can do with Instapaper. These aren’t necessarily secrets, but these little tricks will help you get a lot more out of Instapaper than you would have otherwise.

Organize Using Custom Folders

Yes, you could just save everything that you want to read to a single reading list and deal with it when you get there, but that’s the same idea as keeping a shoebox full of receipts in preparation for tax season. It works, but it’s not exactly the smartest way to do things.

With Instapaper, the default settings only show you two folders: archive and unread. This is not unlike what you find with most email clients: inbox and everything else. Thankfully, just like email, you can create folders in Instapaper that can help you better organize all that content. Create a content related to work, for example, and have another one related to hockey, another for food recipes, and another politics. Every folder has its own RSS feed too, in case you want to use that in some way.

Adjust More Than Just Fonts

When you get the iPhone app, you’ll notice that you can change the font used for all the articles in Instapaper. But there are a few other adjustment options in there too.

Instapaper Font Adjustment

Instapaper Font Adjustment

You can adjust the relative brightness, which can be good for reading in dimmer conditions, as well as the font size, the size of the side margins, and the amount of space between the lines of text. Some people like things a little more compressed, whereas others like them a little more spread out. This is similar to the “display density” (comfortable, cozy, or compact) setting in certain Google products, like Gmail.

Save Multi-Page Articles to Instapaper

This isn’t so much of a “trick” as much as it is a useful tidbit of information. You’ve likely come across more than a few articles on the Internet where the publisher has decided to break the piece into several pages. In the past, apps like Instapaper would have only saved the first page, not knowing to navigate to subsequent pages to save them too. That changed earlier this year, so Instapaper is totally multi-page friendly now.

Use All Kinds of Supporting Apps

Instapaper offers a developer API, allowing all the app developers out there to offer support for Instapaper in their respective apps.

Apps Supported by Instapaper

Apps Supported by Instapaper

When you’re on your computer, you might rely primarily on that bookmarklet to save content, but what if you’re on the go with your iDevice? What if you happen to be reading an article that’s not in browser? No problem. Instapaper supports over 140 iPhone and iPad apps, letting you send those pages directly to your queue. These include everything from Zite and National Post to Pulse and Hootsuite.

Workaround to Search Archived Content

It’s pretty silly, really, that you can’t search through the archived content you have in Instapaper. While there is native support in alternatives like Read It Later, Instapaper doesn’t offer that feature yet. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it though.

The workaround is a little involving, though. First, you need to subscribe to the RSS feed of the Instapaper folder of your choosing. Google Reader is a good solution for that. Then, you simply search the feed for the article that you want. Alternatively, you can download your Instapaper feed as a CSV or HTML file that you can then search through to find the URL that you want. These aren’t the best solutions, but at least they work.