Windows 8.1's Reading List app is a Favorites list on steroids

Greg Shultz describes how to take advantage of Windows 8.1's new Reading List app.



Some of the improvements in Windows 8.1 have made using the modern apps more appealing. I like the new Snap feature, which allows you to have more than two modern apps open on the screen at one time, and I discovered a way to have two Internet Explorer tabs open on the screen and position them side-by-side. I recently came across a new app added to Windows 8.1 called Reading List that is a very nice addition to Microsoft's collection of free apps.

Reading List allows you to keep track of all the content you encounter in your apps that you want to be able find again or read at a later date; in this respect, the app works like the Favorites list. However, Reading List goes beyond the Favorites list in that it organizes the content in chronological order and in categories and then displays the titles and the content as tiles with images. In fact, using Reading List is almost like creating your own newspaper app. You can think of Reading List as a Favorites list on steroids!

Building your Reading List

Building your Reading List is easy. Plus, almost all of the apps that display text will work with Reading List.

I have the Wikipedia app installed in Windows 8.1, and I found articles on it that I would like to read later. To add an article to your Reading List, move your mouse to the upper-right corner of the screen until the Charms bar appears and then click Share (Figure A).

Figure A



When the Charms bar appears, click Share. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

When you see the Share panel, you will click Reading List (Figure B). You won't see the Reading List on the Share panel for all apps; if you don't see it, that means the app doesn't recognize or support the Reading List.

Figure B



From the Share panel, select Reading List. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

In the Reading List panel, you will see a preview of the tile that will be added to Reading List. While you can immediately click Add, I recommend adding the content to a category; this will keep things more organized, and it will be easier to find the content.

To add content to a category, click the Categorize menu. You will see a list of all the default categories and any categories you added. You can select an existing category (Figure C), or create a new category by clicking New Category and filling in the Categorize As prompt. Either way, once you select a category, click Add to complete the operation.

Figure C



You can save the new content to a category to make it easier to find. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

Using the Reading List

After you add content to the Reading List and then access it from the Start Screen, you'll see the main screen (Figure D). As you can see in my example, the content in Reading List is displayed in chronological order. Reading List will randomly pick one of the items from the list and place it on the left side of the screen as spotlighted content.

Figure D



On the main screen, you see your content tiles arranged chronologically. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

When you select a content item from the list, Reading List will condense its display, move over to the side of the screen, and allow the main content to display on the rest of the screen (Figure E). If you prefer that your main content be full screen, you slide Reading List off the screen and into the background by clicking the divider and dragging it to the left.

Figure E



With the Reading List on the side of the screen, you can easily select other items in your list. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

When you use the Reading List main page, if you have a lot of tiles, the screen can get a little overwhelming. Fortunately, Reading List provides a Search feature. You just click the magnifying glass icon and type a keyword in the text box (Figure F), and Reading List will display the results.

Figure F



The Search feature is handy when you have a lot of content saved in Reading List. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

Now, if you dutifully categorize everything that you add to Reading List, things can be a bit easier to locate. As you can see in Figure G, by going to the iPhone category, I can easily find the saved content about that topic.

Figure G



By using categories, it's easier to keep track of saved content. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

To select a category, right-click the Reading List screen, and you will see the app bars appear at the top and bottom of the screen (Figure H). All of the default categories and any categories that you create will appear at the top app bar. By default, Reading List comes with six categories: Finance, Food, Health, News, Sports, and Travel. To switch to a category view, click the associated title.

Figure H



To switch to a category view of Reading list, click the category at the top of the screen. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

In addition to creating new categories from the Categorize menu as I mentioned earlier, you can create categories from this app bar. To do so, click the Categories button at the very top, and you will see the Categories screen. To create a new category, click the grey tile with the red plus sign, and you will see the New Category box (Figure I), where you can enter a name and click OK. Figure I also shows that if you right-click an existing category, an app bar appears at the bottom of the screen and provides you with the ability to rename or delete a category.

Figure I



In addition to creating new categories, you can rename or delete existing categories. (Click the image to see a larger view.)

What's your take?

What do you think about Windows 8.1's Reading List app? Will you use it? If you have comments or information to share about this topic, please drop by our forums and let us hear from you.