A Tour of Pinboard

Pinboard is a personal archive for things you find online and don't want to forget.

The site has been around since July 2009 and has about 25,000 active users.

Why Pinboard?

Here are thirteen great reasons to use Pinboard:

  1. Pinboard is very fast, even if you have tens of thousands of bookmarks or tags.
  2. You can sync bookmarks from many outside sites, including Twitter, Instapaper, and Pocket.
  3. You can connect up to three Twitter accounts and get a searchable archive of your tweets.
  4. The site is reliable. Outages are rare and brief. The site has servers in San Jose and Sacramento, for better resiliency in case of a California earthquake.
  5. Pinboard favors a minimalist, lightweight design with high information density. Once you get used to the site, you can get things done very quickly. There are no gratuitious animations, images, or wasted space.
  6. The pricing plan is simple and inexpensive: you pay a small annual fee.
  7. Everything on the site is available as an RSS feed
  8. You can import and export data in a wide variety of formats.
  9. The site offers handy browser plugins, and a way to save open tabs.
  10. The site caters to users who value privacy. Half of users have no public bookmarks.

  11. There's a full API and an extensive family of third-party clients.
  12. You get timely support straight from the developer, via email or Twitter.
  13. The site has a sane business model that would be familiar to your grandparents.

Please skim over the following to get an idea of how the site works:


Here's what a bookmark looks like on Pinboard:

A bookmark has a title, URL, a description of unlimited length, and one or more optional tags. You can see when the bookmark was saved, and click through to see who else has saved it.

If you sign up for archiving (see below), you also get a link to a stored copy of the page, viewable by clicking the little checkbox next to the title.


Pinboard is set up to give you extensive control over privacy. Over half our users don't share any public content at all.

Any bookmark can be marked private, making it invisible to other users. Private bookmarks have a darker background:

You can configure your account to mark all your bookmarks as private by default.

Pinboard also offers private tags. These are tags on an otherwise public bookmark that only you can see. Any tag that starts with a period is automatically private:

To help avoid privacy leaks, Pinboard does not serve any third-party content to logged-in users—that means no scripts, images, analytics trackers, and certainly no ads.

You do not have to provide any personally identifying information to open a Pinboard account. The only requirement is a working email address.

Read Later

Sometimes you want to save things to look at later without having to fill out a web form. Pinboard offers a special read later status for these bookmarks.

Read later bookmarks are only visible to you (so you can decide later whether to make them private).

The read later bookmarklet silently adds pages to your unread list without prompting you for any further information.

Read later bookmarks have orange titles and look like this:

Clicking on the 'mark as read' link turns the bookmark into a regular one. You can configure Pinboard to automatically mark your bookmarks as read once you clicked the link.

Saving Bookmarks

There are several ways to add bookmarks to Pinboard. The most popular way is using a bookmarklet, a little snippet of JavaScript you can drag up to your browser bar:

Clicking on a bookmarklet opens a window where you can add a title, description and tags:

The 'save bookmark' form auto-suggests tags for many websites based on your past behavior, and it also auto-completes tags as you type.

You can also save your bookmarks by email. Mail a URL to a special Pinboard email address, along with optional tags and description, and the site will automatically add it to your collection.

This can be useful when using a mobile device like an iPhone or Blackberry where it's hard to set up bookmarklets.

Import and Auto-Sync

You can set up Pinboard to automatically sync your links from a number of outside services, including Pocket, Delicious, Twitter, Readability and Instapaper.

Pinboard lets you archive your tweets and favorites from up to three Twitter accounts. The Twitter archive is fully searchable and much faster than trying to find older tweets on Twitter.

The site keeps track of where links came from, so you can quickly find links by filtering on that service.

Tags and Bundles

A Pinboard bookmark can have any number of tags, one-word descriptors that can contain any character except whitespace. Tags let you quickly categorize stuff you find, to make it easy to search for later.

You can view your bookmarks, or all public bookmarks, filtered by up to four tags at a time.

If you have a large number of tags, you can organize them into tag bundles, which let you combine any number of tags together and view those bookmarks on one page.

The site will auto-suggest tags for new links based on your tagging behavior, and auto-complete your tags for you as you type.

Tab Sets

Pinboard lets you quickly save your currently open tabs to the site, and open them later, even if you're on another machine or in a different browser. No more need to pore over each tab to see if you need to bookmark it when you just want to close your browser.


Sometimes you want to bookmark a snippet of text, or write a note to yourself for later. Pinboard makes it easy to do this with notes. A note is a snippet of text of any length:

When you enter a note in the text field, Pinboard automatically creates a web page for it and adds it to your bookmarks:

Notes are a useful way to bookmark hard-to-link articles, to-do lists, or any other kind of text you might have floating around in need of a permanent home.

Staying Organized

Many Pinboard users have large bookmark collections - in the tens of thousands. The site offers multiple ways to filter and organize links, so that you can pick a strategy that suits you.

You can edit a bookmark in place anywhere you see it using the inline edit form:

You can also bulk edit multiple bookmarks at a time by clicking the 'edit' link at the top of any bookmark page:

Your user page shows you your total bookmark count along with a list of options for filtering your bookmarks:

You can click on any tag to see a list of just the bookmarks with that tag:

The tag page will also let you filter by additional tags, to show bookmarks that have been tagged with both. This is called a tag intersection:

If you want, you can limit your view to just bookmarks from a specific source:

Every page on the site has a corresponding RSS feed. That means you can subscribe to any view of your bookmarks, whether public or private, in your favorite RSS reader. You can also subscribe to other people's feeds, global tags, or popular tag pages..

Quick Edit

Pinboard has a special edit mode for tackling a lot of bookmarks at once. Each page has an 'organize' link that takes you to the quick-edit interface.

This shows an edit form in the top third of the page, and a preview of the bookmarked site below:

Any changes you make to the form are automatically saved as you navigate.

This can be a handy way to quickly categorize bookmarks you haven't read, go through your unread list, or do some bookmark gardening.

API and Outside Services

Pinboard offers a full API modeled on version 1 of the Delicious API. The API lets you do everything programatically that you can do through the web interface.

Thanks to the API, Pinboard works with a variety of outside services, including Reeder, Delibar, and Pukka. If there is an API feature that you need to make your app work, just ask!

Feeds, Badges, and Widgets

Pinboard provides RSS feeds for every bookmark page. Look for the orange 'RSS" link at the top of the page, or the RSS icon in your browser address bar.

Feeds for pages with private content have a secret token in the URL, to safeguard your privacy.

These secret URLs let you use your feeds in aggregators like Google Reader that do not support RSS authentication.

Pinboard also offers javascript badges for use in your blog template, along with a WordPress plugin.

Pinboard for Mobile Devices

Pinboard offers a custom version of the site at m.pinboard.in, designed to look good on mobile devices such as the iPhone.:

Pinboard also supports bookmarking by email, for situations when it's easier to email a bookmark to yourself than to enter it by hand.

Finding New Links

Although Pinboard calls itself an 'antisocial' site, many users make their bookmarks public. The site's public pages offer several ways to find interesting new links:

The recent page shows you the newest links on the site.

The popular page has a list of the day's most frequently bookmarked URLs and tags.

The global tag pages will show you all the bookmarks for a specific tag.

Bookmarks from other users include a special copy to mine link that will automatically add the link to your 'unread' list, along with a 'via:' tag so you can remember which user you nicked it from.

You can also subscribe to individual users' bookmarks on your network page. The page will even suggest users to you based on your shared public history.

Of course, any bookmarks you mark 'private' will not appear on these parts of the site.

Archival Accounts

In addition to the free features listed above, Pinboard offers a bookmark archiving service for an annual fee of $25. The site will crawl and store a copy of every bookmark in your account, and display a special icon you can click to see the cached copy:

If the page you bookmarked goes offline, you'll still be able to see the archived copy indefinitely.

The site will also show you which of your bookmarks have dead links, or give errors.

Importing and Exporting

Pinboard is set up to work with a number of outside sites and formats. You can import all your existing bookmarks from Delicious, Google Bookmarks, Diigo, Firefox, Safari, and many other sources by following the instructions on the howto page.

You can also configure Pinboard to automatically mirror public bookmarks from your accounts on Delicious, Instapaper, Pocket and Readability.

Pinboard will check the services every hour or so and automatically add new bookmarks to your collection.

If you're a Twitter user, you can set up Pinboard to collect and archive your tweets and Twitter favorites from up to three accounts, and optionally save every URL it finds as a bookmark. This personal Twitter archive is fully searchable.

Pinboard remembers where each bookmark came from, so it's easy to view a list of your bookmarks filtered by source.

Development and Support

Pinboard is a small site owned and operated by its developer. I make an effort to be easy to reach and interact with. If you have an idea, or need help, you can bring it up directly with me and be sure of a prompt response.

Many of the best features on the site started as user suggestions posted on the discussion forum or sent to us via email.

If I can't accomodate a feature request, I'll work with you to find a good workaround. And if something goes wrong, you can contact me directly through Twitter, IRC, or regular email.

My top priorities are safeguarding your data and keeping the site fast and useful. I'm always glad to answer questions and hear advice from users.

Sign Up!

Of course, the best way to get to know the site is to try it out. So sign up for an account today!