09 Sep 2023

Reading and writing

As I’ve said before, I like to cycle the productivity tools I use from time to time. A change is as good as a rest, and all that.

Today I’m using two tools for reading, and another two for writing.


After many happy years I’ve dropped Pocket for reading. I used it as a primary reading/triage tool, but it’s become a struggle to find things in it again, despite being a paid user. I’ve now switched to Readwise Reader (FAQ, Invite) which I find a mess in many ways but it is working for me.

I send things to Reader, manually or via email rules. There, I delete, or highlight and archive, and the search works. And yes, I make heavy use of the GPT summarisation and “ask a question of this document” feature.

The alternative I’m tracking is Omnivore, which has a better UI, but doesn’t render content as nicely (yet). Update Dec 2023: I’ve now switched from Readwise over to Omnivore as the reading experience is now better there.

For academic papers, I’m using one of the paid tiers of Zotero. It has a good search interface, can export bibliographies, and the PDF reader and pen interface works well.


For notes, I’ve been using Bear for a few years. It’s a Markdown-based document tool, like Obsidian but costs money, has fewer features, is closed source, and is Apple-specific. But it’s rock solid and fast. I use it more or less like a file system, dropping attachments into docs, and searching for them when I need.

When it comes to longer form writing, I return to iA Writer. I use this over Bear for longer content as it’s easier to split sections into different documents and combine them into a single PDF or Word doc after.


These tools have survived the test of time for me, and while not perfect, are worth a look I think.