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Collecting web pages 2.0

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 2, 2014 at 08:01 AM


Hi folks,

In the knowledge that knowledge management is part of what this forum is all about, I thought I’d revert to the interesting subject of web pages and how best to capture/archive them.

All the following thoughts relate to Mac only, I’m afraid. Macs have a plethora of gorgeous info management apps - the quality and sophistication is generally much more impressive than most apps I’ve encountered on PC. The sharing - not so much, although it’s getting better.

So here, without more ado, are my thoughts on the apps I’ve been experimenting with:

▪ Growly Notes ([print to Growly Notes function]: nice, but the search function is poor - slow - and moving notes around is difficult)
▪ OneNote ([copy to OneNote bookmark] also nice, and search function is good; moving notes is easy, too, but import is slow, format is restrictive – graphic only – and despite full-text indexing, you can’t export or copy the actual text. I’ve tried the copy-and-paste approach, too – as per Notebooks – and while it works okay, it’s not optimal because formatting isn’t preserved well, and URLs aren’t copied over, unlike the PC version)
▪ Yojimbo ([print to Yojimbo function] powerful, does the sensible thing and stores web pages as PDF files, but doesn’t communicate desperately well with its own iOS app and doesn’t store metadata or even website URLs, unlike OneNote. Search is good, though)
▪ Together ([print to Together function] more or less identical to Yojimbo, but with an even flakier iOS client and rather unstable behaviour; promising, however)
▪ Notebooks ([copy and paste] still one of my favourites, but you have to manually copy and paste web pages and their URLs. A bit tedious! Reproduction of web pages is astonishingly good, however)
▪ Stache ([copy to Stache button] very fast and very convenient, with powerful search function. But needs a lot of memory – can only really be consulted if it’s the only app running – and stores web pages as .webarchive files – awkward to open because of OS X’s restrictions – or screenshots, which are convenient but limited. Plus very limited output functions - no printing, for example, which means you can’t output the web archives as PDFs - silly!)
▪ Curio ([print to Curio Scrapbook function] haven’t really experimented yet, but I think it’s limited to PDF – but copy and paste is almost certainly an option)
▪ DevonThink (nope, haven’t got it - I know, I should, but it really is expensive!)
▪ Thoughts ([copy and paste] quite nice, with a very good search function, but not quite interesting enough to compete. Although it might become so)

And my current favourite:
Scrivener: [Import as web page function] so what’s so good about Scrivener? Well, it stores pages as web archives, but keeps URLs, searches through them instantaneously (using full-text indexing) and is very convenient to use, being the ultimate writing platform, so you can open web archives in separate windows, or alongside note windows, or however you like. The only downside is having to copy and paste URLs into the web page import dialog box, although you could probably automate that using AppleScript. The other good thing is that you can print out web archives as PDF files that are identical to what Yojimbo or Together produce (something Stache doesn’t do), and yet the whole web page is also stored as a web archive. Now that’s flexible. And finally, documents collected by Scrivener are indexed by Spotlight and FoxTrot Pro. Because I use Scrivener more and more as a research and drafting platform, it’s usually open on my desktop in any case. Downside: no iOS client. Upside: FoxTrot has a very good iOS client that allows you to search through the text you’ve indexed on your Mac (cunning!), so you can store text archived in Scrivener in your FoxTrot indices!

I’ll let you know what I find out about Curio, but I think it’ll be essentially the same as Yojimbo/Together in terms of collection facilities, with the added flexibility of copy and paste, and Curio’s very powerful search and tagging functions. We shall see!



Posted by MadaboutDana
Sep 2, 2014 at 08:10 AM


Actually, Thoughts is worth another look, because it preserves HTML formatting surprisingly well, and like Notebooks, also has a wide variety of output formats, including RTF, Word PDF and Open Document (LibreOffice/OpenOffice format). It can import all these things, too, as well as web archives. It’s also relatively lightweight compared to the heavies like Curio or Scrivener (although Scrivener makes impressively efficient use of memory resources). Hm. And it’s cheap! A downloadable trial is available from the developer’s website (http://thoughtsapp.com).


Posted by Paul Korm
Sep 3, 2014 at 11:39 AM


If your goal is to import web pages as webarchives, convert on the fly to PDF, organize your collection (perhaps with tags, labels, and so forth), search your collection, and take notes—then perhaps you should revisit DEVONthink.  The Personal and Pro level editions will do all of that—IMO, better than the alternatives.  The Pro Office edition adds email importing and PDF OCR, which not everyone needs.  DEVONthink includes a Clipper plugin for Safari / Chrome / Firefox that enables capture of the current tab to webarchive, PDF, HTML, rich text, etc.

I use DEVONthink continually and would not consider the other apps on the list as remotely comparable for webarchival purposes.  Grab a trial and test it hard.


Posted by Prion
Sep 3, 2014 at 11:57 AM


What Paul said.
Devonthink has been one of my most-used (and most continually used) apps for many years and does an admirable job at archiving webpages amongst other things. On the subject of webpages: You can either archive entire pages (pdf or webarchive), parts of the page or a cleaned-up version of the webpage using an instapaper tool. Does a very good job of getting rid of ads and other visual noise which I am typically not interested in when archiving.


Posted by jamesofford
Sep 3, 2014 at 01:01 PM


I am also a user of Devonthink Pro Office. It does a great job of grabbing web pages and storing them. It also has a variety of different ways that you can slice and dice them in order to organize them. I tend not to use it for web page clipping these days because it is kind like using a cannon to swat a fly.

I’ve tried many of the programs in your list(I am also a mac user.) but have settled on Notesuite(http://www.notesuite.io/mac/, also in the App Store). Notesuite is pretty fast, and syncs easily with the iOS version. It has the capability for to dos, though the capability is pretty simple. In general it is a pretty simple piece of software, which I prefer for this sort of thing.

When Onenote came out for the Mac and for iOS I tried using it. I had a good experience with it on Windows. Unfortunately, it is too slow for me. The ability to organize in Onenote is better than Notesuite, but you can put together folders in Notesuite, and that is sufficient for me.



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