General

What is Pinboard?

Pinboard is a personal archive for links you find online. You save bookmarks to the site and can find and search them later from any computer. The site can automatically import your links and tweets from a number of outside services.

Pinboard also offers an archive feature that will save a local copy of everything you bookmark in case the original page goes offline, and let you search all your bookmarks by their full text content.

Who runs this site?

My name is Maciej Cegłowski. I'm a computer guy based in San Francisco. I am the sole employee and I work on Pinboard full-time. I have been running the site since summer of 2009.

How can I get help?

The quickest way to get support is by emailing me at support@pinboard.in or sending me a message on Twitter. If you have a bug to report, it is better to send me email. I also lurk on an IRC channel (#pinboard) on freenode.

How do I report a bug?

Send email to bugs@pinboard.in describing what you did, what you expected to happen, and what happened instead. Please include which browser (and version) you saw the error in, if that applies.

How do I suggest a feature?

Please post feature suggestions to the Pinboard Google group, so that other users can comment. I try to work on features that benefit many users. Occasionally I will turn feature requests down, but I try to at least provide a good rationale for it.

Payment

What does it cost?

Pinboard charges a one-time signup fee of around ten dollars (the amount goes up by a fraction of a penny with each new user).

Archiving accounts cost $25/year. You can deduct the signup fee from the cost of the first year of archiving.

Why should I pay you money?

There are lots of free bookmarking sites—you can find a list of them on the resources page. People choose to pay for Pinboard despite the presence of free alternatives because it is fast, stable, efficient, respectful of your time and privacy, and in the bookmarking business for the long haul. It's also not very expensive.

Ask Pinboard users on Twitter whether they think the site is worth the signup fee!

Is there a free trial?

No. You have to pay to use the site. However, there is a three-day trial period, during which you can request a refund at any time, for any reason.

You can get an idea of what Pinboard is like before signing up by taking the site tour and looking at some public user pages.

Privacy

How does privacy work on Pinboard?

About half of Pinboard users have completely private accounts. I try to give users wide latitude in how they use the site.

Bookmarks can be public or private. Private bookmarks are only visible to you, and don't appear on any of the sitewide pages. You can easily set up your account to keep everything private by default.

You can choose how social or antisocial you want to be on Pinboard, up to and including setting up an anonymous account without telling me anything about yourself.

Is there a way to make my account invisible to other users?

You can have a completely private account on Pinboard through a feature called 'Privacy Lock'. Read more about it here.

All my bookmarks are private. Why can't I turn on Privacy Lock?

You need to make sure your unread bookmarks are marked private as well. Click the 'unread' tab on your homepage, then mark all the bookmarks private with the bulk edit link.

Do I have to provide my real name?

The only thing I require of Pinboard users is a working email address, and some form of payment. I don't need to know your name or anything about you. A number of users have chosen to be completely anonymous.

How safe is my personal data?

I do my best to safeguard your data against accidents, and against bad people. Your password is stored in a way (bcrypt) that makes it hard to crack even if someone obtains a copy of the Pinboard database. The site is set up to use secure connections (TLS) by default, reducing the risk of people eavesdropping on your session. And no one except me has physical or login access to the Pinboard servers.

However, these safeguards are only as good as I can make them. As the privacy policy says, please don't store truly sensitive information in Pinboard.

Importing Bookmarks

Can I import bookmarks from my browser or another website?

You can import bookmarks from Delicious, Google Bookmarks, Safari, Firefox, Diigo, and most other online services that use the standard Netscape-style export format. You can also import from Instapaper in CSV format, and from Google Reader. And of course you can re-import anything you exported from Pinboard.

You'll find step-by-step instructions for each service on the the settings page.

Will I keep my tags when I import?

Pinboard will preserve all the tags it finds in an import file, as well as other important bookmark metadata (creation time, privacy).

How long does import take?

You should see your imported bookmarks start to appear within thirty seconds of uploading them. Your tag cloud should update within a minute or two at most, and your bookmarks will be searchable within about five minutes.

If time has passed and your import seems stuck, please let me know!

Will my private bookmarks stay private when I import?

Yes. Pinboard honors privacy settings in your import file. Additionally, if you select 'add all bookmarks as private' in your user settings your imported bookmarks will be marked private without exception.

What happens if I import the same bookmarks twice?

Pinboard will ignore duplicates, with the following exceptions:

  1. If there are any new tags on the duplicate, they will be added.
  2. If a bookmark being imported has a description field where the existing version of the bookmark doesn't, Pinboard will add that description.
  3. If either the new or the old version of the bookmark is marked private, Pinboard will set the saved bookmark to private.

Can I automatically add a tag during import?

There's no way to do this now except by using the API.

Is there a size limit on imports?

The maximum file size is 40 MB. Note that you can compress the file with gzip. If you have a larger file to import, consider splitting it into pieces, or uploading using the API.

My import failed, what do I do?

First, make sure your import file actually has bookmarks in it! A number of users have been bitten trying to upload empty files. Make sure that the file has at least three bookmarks in it, as the parser uses that as a sanity check.

If everything seems to be in order with the import file, send an email with your username to support@pinboard.in and attach your import file.

Saving Bookmarks

How do I add bookmarks?

There are several ways! The most common is to use the Pinboard bookmarklet. This is a little link that you can drag into your browser toolbar (if you use IE, you'll have to right-click and choose 'add to favorites' instead of dragging).

You can find a bunch bookmarklets and more detailed instructions on how to use them on the howto page.

If you prefer, you can install one of the Pinboard browser extensions. These let you save just like the bookmarklets, but don't require you to keep the bookmarks bar visible.

You can also add bookmarks directly using the 'add URL' link on the homepage.

You can also add bookmarks via the API, or through one of the many third-party apps that support Pinboard, or by clicking the 'add URL' link on your user page and entering the URL directly.

Can I save bookmarks by email?

Instructions for turning on and using the feature are on your settings page.

How do I install the bookmarklets?

If you're using Safari or Chrome, make sure the bookmarks toolbar is visible and drag one of the bookmarklets from our howto page on to the toolbar. If you're using IE, right-click the bookmarklet and select 'add to favorites'.

Can I save a bookmark without filling out a web form?

Many of our users like the 'read later' bookmarklet, which saves pages to your unread list without requiring any further action on your part. We'll have a bookmarklet available soon that will let save regular bookmarks the same way (with optional tag).

Viewing Bookmarks

How can I see all bookmarks from a specific source?

Bookmarks from outside sources (like Twitter or Instapaper) have a blue tag in the form "from:source". You can click on this to see all bookmarks from that source. You can also edit the URL directly - for example, http://pinboard.in/u:username/from:delicious/ will show you all your bookmarks from that service.

Can I filter my bookmarks by multiple tags?

You can filter your bookmarks by up to four tags, either by editing the URL, or using the links in the related tag cloud.

The URL syntax for tag composition is http://pinboard.in/u:username/t:first/t:second/t:third/. The same schema will work for RSS feeds and global tag pages.

You can also filter by multiple tags by clicking on the little 'plus' sign next to the tags on any user+tag page.

Can I get an RSS feed for my bookmarks?

Click the orange RSS link on any page to get a corresponding feed. Note that this gives you *exactly* what you see on the page—including private bookmarks! If you want to share only your public bookmarks, make sure to share your public page.

If your RSS feed URL has a 'secret:xxxxx' parameter in it, that means it will show private content.

Is there a way to sort by title?

You can sort by title on user+tag pages. On those pages, you'll see a little pair of links at the top, marked "date" and "title". To change the sort order, click the appropriate link.

Can I see a list of all my dead links?

You can if you have an archival account. Your profile page will show you how many bookmarks you have with various error codes, and you can click through to see a complete, editable list.

Why can't other people see my unread bookmarks?

All unread bookmarks in Pinboard are invisible to other users, even if they are marked 'public'. The idea is that you don't know what is in the link until you have read it, so Pinboard plays it safe by not allowing anyone to see your unread bookmarks.

Editing Bookmarks

How do I delete all my bookmarks?

Use the 'edit' link at the top of your user page. Select 'all pages' and delete away.

How can I make changes to many bookmarks at once?

The 'edit' link at the top of your user page will let you add or remove tags, change unread status, and bulk delete your bookmarks.

Is there a faster way to tag my bookmarks than clicking 'edit' on each one?

Try the 'organize' link at the top of your homepage, or any one of your tag pages. It opens your bookmarks in a view designed for fast editing. You can turn on an optional preview of the bookmarked site in a separate frame.

Can I automatically remove all dead links?

If you have an archival account, you can view bookmarks that have errors and perform bulk operations on them, including deletion.

Can I include HTML in descriptions?

The only HTML element allowed in descriptions is <blockquote>, useful for displaying cited text. Any URLs in description text will be auto-hyperlinked.

Is there a length limit on descriptions?

The maximum description length is 64K. The maximum display length is a few hundred words - longer descriptions will be truncated in list views. You can still see the full description on the bookmark page.

Tags

What characters are allowed in tags?

Any characters except comma or whitespace are allowed.

Is there a size limit on tags?

Tags can be up to 255 characters long. There is no limit on the number of tags you can have per bookmark.

Are tags case-sensitive?

Pinboard will display tags in the same case as they were entered, but tag search in Pinboard is not case-sensitive. Tags for 'apple', 'Apple' and 'APPLE' will all appear as the same tag. Tag auto-complete is case-aware (but should end up doing what you want).

Why can't I have spaces in my tags?

Multi-word tags pose special problems in formatting, editing, display and search. Rather than tackling these problems, I have chosen to limit tags to non-whitespace characters only. If you have a use case that you feel requires multi-word tags, please email me.

How do I delete a tag?

Go to your page for that tag, click the 'edit' link at the top of the page, select 'all pages', and remove the tag. Once a tag has been removed from all your bookmarks it will disappear from your tag list, tag cloud and tag auto-complete.

How do I rename a tag?

Go to your page for bookmarks with the old tag, click the 'edit' link at the top of the page, select 'all pages', add the new tag, select 'all pages' again, and remove the old tag. Make sure you follow the steps in this order (add the new tag first, then remove the old).

Is there a way to have Pinboard auto-complete my tags?

You can turn tag auto-completion on or off on your settings page.

How can I get suggested tags?

Right now we have a simple algorithm for tag suggestions. When you bookmark a URL, we look at all the user tags for that URL and see if any overlap with tags you've already used. If so, we show those tags in the bookmark submission form.

Some users have asked for more extensive suggestions including tags they haven't already used. We're evaluating this for use on the site.

Can I see results for multiple tags?

See above.

Can I view only those bookmarks that don't contain a particular tag?

There's no way to filter by tags in Pinboard. You can do this with our RSS feeds (as well as build more complicated tag queries) in Yahoo! Pipes.

Archiving

What is archiving?

Archiving is a paid feature that makes Pinboard download and store a personal copy of every bookmark in your account. The copy will remain available to you even if the original site goes down, or the page changes.

Archiving also turns on full-text search for your account. You'll be able to search all your bookmarks based on any word or phrase that appeared anywhere on the page.

How much does archiving cost?

Archiving costs $25 per year. You can subtract your signup fee from the first year of archiving, so if you paid $10 to join Pinboard, it will cost you $15 to turn on archiving.

Can I test the feature before buying it?

Just like with a regular Pinboard account, there's a three-day refund window for anyone who wants to try archiving. If for any reason you don't like it, I return your payment with no questions asked.

What technology does the archive use?

The archiving system fetches links using an enhanced version of wget, with a little extra intelligence about fetching dependencies. Every crawled page gets stored in a single directory, and the links rewritten to point to the local copy.

How well does archiving work?

Some things don't get archived properly. Pages with embedded video, especially Flash video, will often fail. Pages that do all their work in Javascript (Gawker sites, for example, or Disqus comments) will look like they archived correctly, but the content will still be fetched from the original servers.

Other sites may archive correctly but not display correctly, because they call on outside stylesheets. Finally, sites that require authorization (see below) may fail to archive, even though you can see them in your own browser.

That said, the crawler still does a very good job of finding dependencies and serving up archived pages. Many Pinboard users have found that archiving saved their hide when a link they rely on disappeared unexpectedly.

Will Pinboard archive all my bookmarks, or just new ones?

Pinboard will crawl all the bookmarks in your account retroactively, and continue to crawl any bookmarks you add through import, sync, or your day-to-day use of the site.

Will Pinboard fetch a new copy each time the link content changes?

No. Pinboard will only crawl the link once. If you want it to update the saved copy of a link, you can ask for a manual re-crawl (see below).

Is there a size limit on archived links?

There is a 32 MB size limit per link, which is typically enough for all but the largest pages. Links larger than 32 MB may not be archived.

Is there a way to re-crawl an archived page?

Open the archived version of the page and you'll see a link at the top that lets you do this

Does archiving include my tweets?

Tweets are archived separately. All users have access to Twitter archiving, even if they don't sign up for the archiving feature on Pinboard.

Can I download my archived bookmarks? What format are they in?

Right now you can download your archived bookmarks by special arrangement (in other words, you email me and I make you a tarball). The bookmarks are stored one per folder, with a top-level manifest HTML file that gives you links to each. We're working on completely automating this process so you can download your archived data whenever convenient.

Are there pages you can't archive?

There are a number of pages that we're not able to save right now. Any site behind a paywall is inaccessible to our crawler. YouTube and Flickr go to some lengths to block crawlers, and we are unable to save those links properly. That said, we are able to save the vast majority of sites and are the only archiving site that saves full page content.

How long do I have to wait after upgrading for full-text search to work?

It can take up to 48 hours to build the initial full-text index for your account. Subsequent updates should be much quicker. You can view the status of full-text indexing on your account page.

Outside Services

I turned on Pocket/Instapaper mirroring. Why don't I see all my bookmarks?

Mirroring uses RSS feeds, so it is not retroactive. Only the last dozen or so links (depending on the service) will be added when you turn the mirroring feature on. If you'd like to add all your bookmarks from an outside service, you'll need to use the importer.

Can I mirror private links?

Pinboard only uses publicly visible RSS feeds to sync with outside services. You can't mirror stuff that is not publicly visible.

How often does Pinboard sync outside bookmarks?

This depends on the service. I try not to hit servers too hard, and I try to check accounts more often if they update a lot. You can see when the last check was, and how soon until the next check, on your account page.

Twitter

How far back does my Twitter archive go?

Pinboard will fetch your entire tweet history, up to the Twitter-imposed limit of 3200 tweets.

How many Twitter accounts can I connect to my Pinboard account?

Three.

Does Pinboard work with private Twitter accounts?

Yes. Pinboard uses Oauth to connect to Twitter, which means you can connect to to private accounts.

Will Pinboard bookmark all the links in my tweets?

You can configure each Twitter account to auto-add bookmarks from your tweets, twitter favorites, and whether to mark them as read or unread.

How do I see my tweets in Pinboard?

Click the 'tweets' tab on your homepage. You'll see a list of tweets, which you can filter by individual twitter account. You'll also see a searchbox for searching your tweets.

Is there a way to export my tweets?

Pinboard offers a JSON export of all your saved tweets on the export page.

Can I set up Pinboard to automatically post to my weblog? To Twitter?

The site doesn't support any kind of automated posting to outside services.

How can I sync my toread list with Instapaper?

I'm not aware of any easy way to do this right now.

Account

What payment methods do you accept?

You can pay via PayPal or Amazon Payments. You can also request an alternate invoice through Google Checkout. If you would like to sign up but have trouble paying through one or more of these services, please contact me.

How do I get a refund?

Pinboard accounts are fully refundable within three days of signup. Send me an email and I will issue a refund through the payment provider and close your account.

My payment failed, how can I redo it?

You can send me the balance due via PayPal or Amazon Payments. My address with both services is maciej@ceglowski.com. Include your username in the payment I'll make sure your account status gets updated appropriately.

How do I close my account?

Send me an email from the address we have on file for you and I'll be happy to close your account.

How can I change my username?

Send us an email with your current username, and what you would like it changed to.

How can I update my email address on file?

You can edit this and other personal information on your account page.

Can I buy a gift account for someone else?

Of course! Contact me and I'll be happy to send a pre-paid invitation in your name.

Search

What does the search engine index?

For regular accounts, the search engine indexes all titles, tags, and descriptions. If you have an archival account, you also have the option to search the site by full-text content of your stored web pages.

What parts of the site are searchable?

  • All public bookmarks on the site
  • Your own bookmarks (including fulltext search, if you are an archival user)
  • Other users' public bookmarks
  • Your network
  • Other users' public networks
  • Your tweets

Can I use Boolean operators in search?

Yes. See the search engine documentation for all the details.

How often is the search engine updated?

The search index updates every three minutes. Fulltext search is updated nightly.

Will search work in Japanese, Chinese or Korean?

Yes. Please email me if you spot any problems with search in any language.

Troubleshooting

Help, my bookmarks are gone!

Please make sure you are logged in to the site. This is by far the leading cause of panic about lost bookmarks.

I don't have any public bookmarks, but I can't turn on Privacy Lock.

Make sure you've marked all your unread bookmarks as private, too.

The bookmark counts on my account page aren't right

These are generated by a background process. If you see it fall out of sync, let me know, and I will chase down the bug.

I imported a Delicious file but not all my bookmarks are showing up.

There's an entity-escaping bug in the Delicious exporter that can cause import to break part of the way through. Email me and I'll take a look.

I imported from Delicious and now all my tags are connected by underscores

This is due to Delicious quietly switching to comma-separated tags a few months ago. If you kept entering tags separated by whitespace, they got added as big multi-word tags. When Pinboard sees these multi-word tags, it replaces the whitespace with underscores. The result is a mess.

Contact me and I can run a script against your account to auto-split these tags.

The 'earlier' and 'later' links don't seem to do anything.

It's possible that a number of your bookmarks have the same creation date, which confuses the pagination links. I have a script that fixes this, please email me and I'll run it on your account.

I deleted a tag (or many tags) but I still see them in my tag cloud.

Tag clouds are updated by a background process. If they don't update within a few seconds of editing a tag, please let me know, as this is a bug. Meanwhile you can trigger the rebuild yourself by editing a bookmark.

Anxieties

What happens if the guy who runs Pinboard gets hit by a bus?

The bus is likely to be fine. They don't go very fast and are designed with passenger safety in mind.

How do I know the NSA is not looking at my bookmarks?

I take precautions to make life difficult for all kinds of snoopers, including three-letter agencies. The site requires TLS (secure connections), which makes it safer to use Pinboard on public wifi and on untrusted networks. And it avoids using any third-party scripts, which could pose a security risk.

But if the Feds really want to grab your bookmarks, they will find a way. For what it's worth, no government agency has ever contacted me, although the FBI did take my servers by mistake once.

Please do not store truly sensitive data on Pinboard.

Is it true the site admin can see private bookmarks?

Yes. I routinely look at raw bookmark data, which includes private bookmarks. Most of the time this means I look at URLs without any identifying context.

I try to avoid looking at private data on people's individual pages. However, this is sometimes necessary in order to diagnose and fix bugs in Pinboard, such as search errors, or strange formatting in archived pages.

I use the metaphor of a hotel manager. I have a key that opens every room, but I try not to use it without a good reason. And I can assure everyone that five years of running this site has eliminated any trace of curiosity I might have had about what people bookmark.