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How to Import Articles Between Pocket and Instapaper


If you’re considering leaving your read-it-later application of choice for greener pastures, you don’t have to start from scratch. Here’s how to move everything from Pocket to Instapaper, or vice versa, without missing a beat.

Why move? Maybe you want to try out a new feature set. Maybe you bought a new ebook reader that has really slick integration with a different service (like Pocket has with Kobo ebook readers, for example). Or maybe you saw the recent announcement that Instapaper premium is now free and you want to take it for a spin.

At any rate, it’s trivially easy to do if you know where to look in the respective settings menus and options of the services (an area, if you’re a bookmarklet ‘n ebook reader kind of user, you probably don’t spend a lot of time in).

How to Back Up Your Pocket Articles and Import Them to Instapaper

If you’d like to take Instapaper for a spin, you’ll want to export your Pocket content and bring it with you. To do so visit getpocket.com, log in, and then visit the options menu by clicking on your username and “Options”.

Within the resulting Options menu, select “Export” from either the left hand navigation menu or the central column.

In the Export menu click on the link “Export HTML file”. The file will be saved to your computer. There is no limit on the number of articles you can export—you entire catalog of saved Pocket articles will be packaged and downloaded to your computer.

File in hand, it’s time to head over to Instapaper. Log into your account and then navigate to the settings menu.

Scroll down in the Settings menu until you see the “Import” section. Click on “Import from Pocket”.

You’ll be presented with a file browser, browse to the location of the .HTML file and select it. Click “OK”. Afterwards the import process will start and you’ll be returned to the main Instapaper page with the following message:

How many minutes your articles will be available in is dependent on the size of the import pool. If you’re importing years worth of saved articles, expect it to take a few minutes to parse through the file and import them.

Once the import process is over, you can now enjoy all your articles on Instapaper and continue to grow your reading list. While you’re still playing around with your account, now would be a great time to read over the Instapaper help file to familiarize yourself with the different features, how to save articles to the service, and so on.

How to Back Up Your Instapaper Articles and Import Them to Pocket

In order to jump ship to Pocket, you first need to take a stop at your Instapaper account to grab your content. Unlike Pocket, however, there’s one small hitch in the export process. At the time of this writing, the export process is limited to your last 2,000 saved articles. While this limitation is likely only problematic for a small percentage of users, it’s something to aware of.

To get start visit instapaper.com, login, click on your username in the upper right corner, and select Settigns (or, you can just jump right to your user settings here).

Inside the settings menu, scroll down to the bottom and look for the “Export” category. Click on the “Download .HTML file” link.

The file will save as “instapaper-export.html”. With the file safely downloaded to your computer, head over to your getpocket.com and log into your (or create a new) account. Once you’re logged into the service, rather than navigate through the Options menu to import your Instapaper files, you need to visit this link directly.

There, in the import menu, click “Choose File” and browse to the location of the .HTML file you just saved to your computer. Once the file is selected, click “Import”.

After the import process finishes, you’ll be presented with the following feedback:

Two things of note here. First, we have to hand it to Pocket here. From a user friendliness standpoint, they really nailed it with import splash page. Second, you’ll see a note about how your Instapaper likes weren’t imported because they aren’t a part of the export file you grabbed from Instapaper and you need to content them. We found no information in Instapaper’s help files on the matter, so it really does seem that if you really need those liked articles you’ll need to directly contact Instapaper tech support to get it sorted out.

Other than that small caveat though, you can immediately jump right into reading your old articles and storing new ones in Pocket.


Thanks to the magic of standardized file types and the good data citizenship behavior of both Pocket and Instapaper, it’s a snap to switch between the two services provided you have a few minutes of time to dedicate to the effort.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don’t have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he’s interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you’d like.


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