Saving Web Pages for Later from Chrome, Firefox and Safari

The Web - The Best Research Tool
The Web – The Best Research Tool

The web is a wonderful asset for writers and researchers. It is the ultimate research tool. But how do we save what we find for later?

The problem is keeping the information at our fingertips for later access. This is especially a problem if we work some of the time with no internet connection. Perhaps on a plane or train, or in a remote location where WiFi or Internet is expensive,  limited, unsafe or simply unavailable.

If you work on a Chromebook, this is an even bigger problem, because there are fewer options to store web pages and research material offline. But there are ways.

The three best ways to save web pages and web based notes offline.

  1. Evernote Web Clipper

Clip to EvernoteIf you are an Evernote user, this is a bit of a no-brainer. Evernote has the brilliant Evernote Web Clipper. It allows web content to be clipped in a number of formats and saved to Evernote.

Clipped articles can be saved in specific folders, and you can add tags.

Clip to EvernoteA particularly nice feature is the ability to highlight text on the page before it is saved. Selecting snippets of text allows you to colour them.

It is also possible to select a range of text in an article BEFORE clicking the save button on the toolbar, and save only that text to Evernote.

Clip to EvernoteThe downside of using Evernote is the fact that it cannot be accessed offline unless you have access to the Evernote App on Windows, Mac, Android or iOS. On a Chromebook, you will need to have the Evernote Android App installed, and that, at this time, is less than perfect on Chrome OS. This should improve over the next few months at the Android store rolls out to all capable Chrome OS devices.

2  Save to Pocket.

Save to PocketPocket is a free service (with a premium option) that allows pages to be saved and viewed on the Pocket web site, or in the Pocket app on Android and iOS or using a Chrome plugin. All work offline, as long as you have downloaded the latest content before going offline.

Save to PocketIt has fewer options than Evernote Web Clipper, but it is reliable, but allows tagging after saving.

3 Save to Keep

Save to KeepThis is a very simple and fast plugin that saves the URL of the page you are looking at and selected text to Keep.

Keep works offline, but the save option only saves the URL and a simple snapshot of the header. It will also save highlighted text. If you simply want to capture a thought or paragraph, this is a great option.

Save to KeepRemember though, it is text only, formatting disappears.

It is excellent for quickly saving things, but is not much use if you want a full article with images and formatting offline. It definitely has a place in my toolkit though.

These are the tools I use. They all work on Chrome, Safari and Firefox. You should be able to get them working on pretty much any platform.

There are others, including Sent to Kindle and Shareaholic that I have tried in the past.

The save to Kindle plugin works well in Chrome, but provides a text only capture. It also requires a Kindle reader to be installed on a tablet or phone, it ignores Chrome, Windows and macOS readers.

The Shareaholic plugin also works well with multiple sites, but is more of a social sharing tool that a save tool.

Please let me know what you use in the comments.

Beware the “Awesome Screenshot” Extension for Chrome, Firefox, Safari

Awsome Sceenshot Page
Awsome Sceenshot Page

This seemingly innocent plugin that allows the capture and annotatiuon of screenshots has been caught with it’s hand in the till, according to mig5.net. I caught onto this story courtesy of the Chrome Story Blog.

Awsome Screenshot Access
Awsome Screenshot Access

Basically the Awsome Screenshot plugin spies on all the web sites and pages you visit, sends the data back to servers for storage, and at a later date a web-crawler identifying itself as “niki-bot” begins scanning those pages. The purpose is not clear, but the terms of service for “Awesome Screenshot” states:

When users access the software, certain non-personally and personally identifiable information (the “User Information”) may be collected, stored and used for business and marketing purposes, such as maintaining and improving the Services, conducting research, and monetization. This User Information includes, without limitation: IP address, unique identifier number, operating system, browser information, URLs visited, data from URLs loaded and pages viewed, search queries entered, social connections, profile properties, contact details, usage data, and other behavioral, software and hardware information. If you access the Services from a mobile or other device, we may collect a unique device identifier assigned to that device or other information for that device in order to serve content to it. This collected data may also be supplemented with information obtained from third parties or submitted by users.

Awsome Screenshot Logo
Awsome Screenshot Logo

My advice would be to run, do not walk to your computer and remove the Awsome Screenshot plugin immediately!

Thank you to the sites mentioned above for doing the detective work on this one!

 

Chromebook Challenge Day 14 – Two Weeks In…

My Chromebook desk setup
My Chromebook desk set-up

I am on day 14 of the Chromebook Challenge.  So how is it going? Very well. I use the chromebook connected to my 22″ HD LG monitor via the full sized HDMI port in the back.

I have a seven port powered USB hub under the desk. It is connected to a 3Tb Western Digital drive, a USB Ethernet port, a wireless mouse and powers a pair of Logitech speakers plugged into the headphone socket on the monitor. The Chromebook drives audio through the HDMI port to the speakers when connected, and reverts to local speakers when I disconnect.

The beauty of this setup is I can close the lid and unplug the two cables, HDMI and USB and walk away. I also have the power supply connected when I am docked.

Issues So Far

I wrote about the problem related to providing remote support. I have solved that.

Another Issue relates to capturing images, and editing them. I take a lot of screen shots. When the image is going to be published, I need to be able to Blur out certain elements of the shot. The Chromebook allows images to be uploaded to Google Drive and Google+. Google+ has a nice on-line editor that does some excellent clean-up of images. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a way to blur things.

I have found two solutions. The first is the big gun of browser based editing, Pixlr Editor. This is a remarkably full featured photo / graphics editor offered by Autodesk. It is currently free. I suspect that may change in the future. Autodesk is known for it’s high priced AutoCAD software.

Pixlr blurring a Screenshot
Pixlr blurring a Screenshot

Pixlr runs using the Flash plugin, It works well, is extremely capable and will open, edit and save images stored locally. It is a quick loading app, but is slow when editing large images on the Chromebook.

 

The image shown here shows me blurring the word Warning on a screenshot of the ABC North Tasmania web site.

Andrew Cunningham  complained that it takes forever to edit images captured on a professional DSLR, and that is hardly surprising given the size of a 18  Megapixel image. For me, editing screen shots is fast and easy.

Pixlr will also store images in an online library on their servers or access Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa. I had some trouble activating this feature, and edited the shot of my desktop setup using an image taken using my Android phone, auto-backed up to Google+ (the Picasa option) and edited in Pixlr. I am mainly interested in local images though.

Webpage Screenshot Capture
Webpage Screenshot Capture

The other option is Webpage Screenshot Capture.  A tool that allows a screenshot to be taken, and edited immediately and saved. It has some interesting features, and seems much lighter weight. and it is available with a click of an icon. It is fast and simple. It allows simple editing of the screenshot, including blurring. It has become my tool of choice now.

It can be found on the Chrome Plugin page.

Webpage Screenshot capture
Webpage Screenshot capture

 

 

 

Things I cannot do on a Chromebook or Android tablet.

I never believed a Chromebook could replace the computer for most businesses. However I am developing an increasing respect for my Samsung Chromebook. Here are some more things I cannot do:

  •  Open an encrypted ZIP file or a True-crypt volume.
  •  Begin a Skype conference call. I can join one using an Android tablet though.
  •  Play a CD or DVD. I can however copy MP3 Audio and MKV Video to the downloads folder, or plug in a USB stick.