Nov 212011
 

E-book readers like the Kindle are brilliant at displaying text in a clear and easy to read format – if only websites could be just as good…

An increasing number of websites mix up the content of their articles with so many links, banners, flash animations and varieties of colors that it can become very difficult to actually read the article – especially if you have bad eyesight or suffer from color blindness.

Media rich websites of newspapers and magazines are particularly bad for this – which is kind of annoying as they are where you are most likely to want to have a good long read! However, there are many other culprits using too many intrusive ‘features’ or bizarre colors on their pages. Step forward the Readability add-on…

Readability is a free add-on for web browsers – we gave it a try and it works amazingly well. Readability converts any web page article into a clean and comfortable reading view – very like what you see on an e-book. If you sign up for a free Readability account (which is optional), you can also save articles for reading later on your Kindle, tablet or even mobile phone.

The conversion process only takes a second or two (depends on how much fluff there is to strip out) and you can send an article to your Kindle with a couple of clicks – Readability converts it into a clean plain text view and wirelessly sends it to your Kindle. Cool :-)

A basic example of what it can achieve is shown below – on the left is the news article as it appears normally and on the right is the same article after it has been converted by Readability. We’ve had to reduce the size to fit but it gives an idea of what Readability is capable of – it doesn’t just strip out all the menu bars, banners and eye candy but it also rearranges the text into a clear ‘book’ style that fills the width of the page, just like an ebook:

readability

How To Get Readability

Download the Readability add-on here – it will install the right add-on for your web browser. Once installed, Readability adds a button (looks like a red sofa) in the toolbar that lets you Read Now, Read Later or Send to Kindle.

Read Now – Converts the current article into a clean and comfortable reading view. No sign up required.
Read Later – Converts and synchronizes the article for you to read later as you surf around the web (requires signing up for a free account).
Send To Kindle – Converts the current article and transmits it to your Kindle (requires signing up for a free account and creating a connection between your Kindle and Readability, easy to do – follow the FAQ on the site)

Note: if you sign up for a free account, by default your Reading List is available on the web for others to discover and view. Although this shouldn’t be a problem, if you’re concerned about it you can turn sharing on or off at any time by visiting your Account Settings page.

Other Features

When viewing an article in Readability, clicking the ‘Aa’ icon on the left shows options which you can use to instantly change how the article looks:

  • Font and color – change the font and color of the text/background e.g. to look like a newspaper, e-book or inverse (white text on black background)
  • Width – make the article narrower or wider
  • Font Size – enlarge or reduce the font
  • Convert links to numbered footnotes – very useful if there are too many distracting links in the article or if you are color blind and have difficulty distinguishing a link by its color
  • Hide images – banners and adverts are removed by the conversion process but you can also remove genuine images from within the article – useful if you are sending it to a Kindle

Conclusion

We really (and I mean really) like Readability. It’s clever, it works very well and the ability to send to Kindle is a bonus. Free Readability Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android are available too.

If you regularly read long articles, have eyesight issues or color blindness, or just want to be able to read web articles on your Kindle etc, Readability is a must have free app.

  One Response to “Convert Webpages To Better Reading View With Readability”

  1. Thanks. Used this in bad old days of a weak PC and failing monitor. End result at NYT is like what see if select Print to read article. Major drawback is that it seems to strip out photos, and graphs. Of course can still access those if want to. Doubt there’s an option to still have them included. NYT does often stick in such boxes anyway now. Bit of a drag when copying for email. Nice feature overall and no real system demand on modern PC.
    Also there’s an ad stripper that helps called AdMuncher. It knocks out some of the ads on page easily.