Sometimes I just want to name things the way I deem fit. Pocket, back when they were called “Read It Later”, used to include this functionality. Somewhere along the way, Pocket decided to remove that feature in preference to augmenting their product to do a really good job of figuring out what an article’s title should be. However, there are still many times that it would be helpful to have the ability to manually rename an article. I’ll detail some problematic articles below, with screenshots.

But First, History

I’ve been using Pocket since it was named Read It Later; Wikipedia tells me (in a roundabout fashion) that that means I’ve most likely used the service for over a decade. I’ve used it on Android phones, iOS devices, even Windows phones. I’ve used the actual website. I keep “Recommended by Pocket” as the only thing on my new tab/window page in Firefox.

Wikipedia also tells me that Pocket Premium has been A Thing™ since May 2014; I’ve been a subscriber since June of the same year. Needless to say, I like this product, and I will continue to use it for quite some time, I’m sure.

I can’t find it any longer, but there used to be a support forum for Pocket, with a number of threads asking for rename (or title editing) support. I marked a few as helpful (or upvoted, or whatever you were supposed to do to them to register relevance without “me too”‘ing the post), and even (if I recall correctly) wrote some comments expressing my desire for the feature. The feature requests were denied back then for the same reason the feature request isn’t considered today:

While we don’t currently offer title editing functionality, we encourage you to report any incorrect titles so we can try to get them fixed!

(But I will note that that feature seems to be under consideration now, so perhaps this post is timely!)

Why Allow Title Editing?

So, if Pocket does a really good job of extracting titles from articles most of the time, why do I even need the ability to rename articles myself? Well, as with everything in life, nothing is perfect. Pocket recognizes this, and does give you a way to report items with incorrect titles. While that’s a great option to have, it doesn’t help me in the moment. Another option that the help article suggests is that users use Tags “…as a way to help identify and organize items that might not have a title that helps you identify them easily.” That sounds okay on the surface, but I humbly suggest that the best tag to help me identify an article easily is the title of the article. I use Tags as just that: tags, or categories, to help me “group” articles together. I have tags for computer-related articles, science, programming, health, etc. If I had to guess, this is probably how most people use tags. Using a tag to help identify a badly-named article seems antithetical to what I see as the main use of tags.

But How Bad is it, Really?

Not that bad. Really! As I’ve said, most of the time Pocket gets it right. But I think that there will always be some web pages that Pocket can never name properly:

These are only three examples, but I’m sure you can think of a thousand more, given the size of the Internet.

Yes, But [Citation Needed]

You’re right, so here you go. There’s no way this list will look good, because it’s just a bunch of screenshots and I’m not a designer. Clicking on the screenshots will show you how the article looks in Pocket.


So there you have it. This is my plea to Pocket to please consider adding support for editing article titles. The sixteen examples above took me back in my archive until about April, 2020; I could have kept going, but I got bored of taking screenshots. I really love that, 95% of the time, I don’t have to think about (re-)naming an article. At the same time, I think that the list above shows a diverse-enough sampling that we can all agree that attempting to get the titles right on all of them is simply infeasible. And even when a title can be extracted properly, there are still times when the user may want or need to edit the title to make it shorter, simpler, more exact, etc. Finally, using Tags to get around this limitation is, in my opinion, simply using a different feature to get around a limitation in an adjacent feature.

I want to finish this by reiterating that I love the Pocket service, and it has only gotten better over the years. Thanks, Pocket, for keeping my “read it later” list organized for over a decade!