Previously, we showed you 10 of the best web highlighters you can get right now. In this post, we are going to bring two of them to a more detailed comparision.
Both services allow you to read and highlight web content, but each has their own unique features. Read on to see which app works best for you.
Overview of Glasp and Matter
Image: Glasp Web Highlighter
Glasp is a “social web highlighter” for the desktop. This means that your highlights and notes in a web article will be available for public viewing by everyone who comes across your profile page or if they stumble upon the article you highlighted in their feed.
Image: Matter app
Matter, on the other hand, calls itself the “one place for all your reading” for mobile devices. It is both a read-it-later and reader app that is designed to be a private reading experience. It was developed originally as a newsletter highlighter for mobile but is now available on desktop.
To get a better understanding of both apps, this article discusses their features based on the following categories:
- Highlighting and note-taking
- Supported platforms
- Import and export options
- Visibility of highlights and notes
- Unique Features
Highlighting and Note-Taking
The biggest difference between the two apps is how it handles highlighting and note-taking.
Glasp lets you highlight all kinds of web articles on the spot. It does not use a reader view which allows it to preserve the original article’s formatting. In addition, you can also highlight PDF files from the web and YouTube transcripts.
The app allows you to choose four colors and specify their labels when highlighting, making the feature more personal to the user.
For example, you can denote yellow for highlights that spark an idea, red for disagreement, green for confusing concepts, and blue for important points.
When it comes to note-taking, you have the option to take notes on a particular highlight or on the overall web content. You can add the latter under the Page Comment section when you click on Glasp’s browser extension.
Your highlights and notes are stored on your profile page on Glasp’s website.
Matter takes a different approach and uses its own reader to let you highlight and take notes from there.
Since the app is focused on the reading experience, you are only limited to highlighting web articles, Twitter threads, and newsletters. If you prefer to listen to the web articles, Matter allows you to highlight audio as well.
The app has the same note-taking functionality as Glasp, allowing you to take notes on a particular highlight or at article level. It only has one highlighter color that you can choose.
These notes are stored in the Notebook menu for both mobile and desktop versions.
In the following section, you can see which platforms support Glasp and Matter.
You can access your profile, feed, and export highlights and notes when using a mobile browser. There is no option to highlight web content in mobile devices as there is no mobile version of the extension available at the moment.
Matter, on the other hand, is available on iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and on the desktop as a web app and web extension for Chrome, Safari and Firefox. You can use it on the following browsers: Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Brave, Opera, Vivaldi, and Firefox. The Android version is currently on the waitlist.
Do note that you need to create an account on Matter’s iOS app before you can use their web app.
Import and export options
An important aspect in highlighter apps is the ability to import highlights from previous apps and export them to your favorite note-taking app.
Here’s a comparison of import and export options between Glasp and Matter.
Glasp lets you import highlights and notes from Kindle. This process involves importing either all highlights or a selected book from the Notes & Highlights on Kindle Cloud Reader. There is currently no option to import using the My Clippings text file from the Kindle device.
Note that highlights and notes from Kindle are not visible to the public. Only you can access the highlights in the Kindle tab on your Glasp profile. Other users will only see the book cover, title, and author.
For exporting, Glasp allows you to export highlights and notes from individual web content or as a batch. You have the option to export in the following file formats: .txt, .csv, .html, .md, and .png.
Matter does not have the option to import highlights and notes from Kindle. However, it has Pocket and Instapaper integration that allows you to import your library, including tags and folders.
The app has export options and supports the following formats: Kindle, print, PDF, and an image file in the form of Quoteshots. Quoteshots are auto-generated images that allow you to share your highlights on Twitter.
Matter also has the option to sync your highlights and notes directly to the following apps: Roam, Obsidian, Notion, and Readwise.
Visibility of highlights and notes
Privacy is another important thing to consider when choosing a highlighter app. Here you can see how Glasp and Matter handle the visibility of your highlights and notes.
All your highlights and notes from the web content you consume are automatically shared and are visible to the public.
This is an intended feature as it helps users share their insights from other learners, though some people may not like it and prefer their highlights and notes to be private.
Only your imported Kindle highlights and notes are private. Users can only see the cover, title, and author of the book.
Matter originally allows you to share your highlights and notes, implementing a similar social aspect to Glasp. However, they have moved away from this feature, putting all highlights and notes in private.
As seen in the screenshot above, the yellow notes indicate the number of highlights you have in each article. Only you can see access and see the highlights.
The only current way to share a highlight from a web article is through a Quoteshot. Using this allows you to share an individual highlight on your Twitter account.
Glasp does not have a bookmark feature seen in most read-it-later apps.
However, it has the option to save another user’s highlights on web content. These will appear under the Saved tab on your profile page.
Matter has the functionality of a read-it-later app, allowing you to save articles using the mobile app or the browser extension.
The saved articles will appear in the Queue and Library menu. Articles that you have read can be archived as well.
If you have imported your reading list from Pocket or Instapaper, the articles will appear in the Queue and Library menu as well.
As mentioned earlier, Glasp and Matter have unique features that help make them stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Glasp combines aspects from social media apps and highlighter apps, giving it a community-focused experience. All highlights and notes are public, which encourages users to share what they learn and in turn, gain insights from like-minded people.
It has a following and follower system, allowing you to follow users to see what they have highlighted in your feed.
There is also a Community page that you can access using the Explore button. This takes you to a page where you can discover content based on tags or from authors and websites.
An exclusive feature in Glasp is the ability to pile-on highlights. This is when your follower highlights through the web content that you also read and highlight. You will receive a notification in your Glasp feed whenever someone pile-ons your highlights.
Other features exclusive to Glasp are the Atomic Interest Graph and Atomic Notes.
The Atomic Interest Graph shows the connections between the web content you read based on the tags that you have applied while Atomic Notes allow you to create write and connect ideas within your Glasp profile.
In a content management workflow, Glasp is the temporary area between content discovery and permanent place. This means that you can use the app as a temporary storage for interesting content before moving them to the permanent place where only high-quality content are stored for later retrieval.
Matter is a mobile read-it-later and highlighter app that focuses on making the reading experience easy on mobile phones and tablets. There are no ads anywhere in the reader view and you can highlight and take notes within it.
You can save web articles, Twitter threads, PDFs through their mobile app or browser extension. This is done using the share button on mobile or the browser extension on the desktop.
The mobile app also lets you switch between text and audio, allowing you to listen to the articles that you have saved. This is a handy feature for those who prefer to listen to the article while they do something else.
Your saved content appears in the Queue menu of the app. This menu lets you see the upcoming content that you have lined up for reading. You can then archive these web articles once you are done reading.
Audio Queueing is also an option that lets you listen to your saved content as a playlist.
Aside from saving web articles and the like, you can fetch free and paid newsletters from your email inbox and send them directly to the app. No need to open your email app to read your subscribed newsletters.
Another feature exclusive to Matter is the Inbox menu. This is the area where you can see the latest articles from the writers you follow. You can then swipe right to save the article to your Queue or swipe left to archive it.
Should you use Glasp or Matter?
Glasp and Matter offer different features that depend on the user’s preferences. It is best to take note of the features you need in a highlighter app and make a choice from there.
If you prefer a social component to your highlighting experience, allowing you to share insights with others, Glasp is a great option.
For those who prefer reading on the go or want their highlights and notes in private, Matter is suited for this option.
Here is a handy table comparing Glasp’s and Matter’s features.
|Highlighting and note-taking||Web article, PDF, YouTube (transcript)||Web article and newsletter|
|Supported platforms||Desktop||Desktop, iOS (iPhone & iPad)|
|Import options||Kindle ebooks||Saved web articles from Instapaper & Pocket|
|Export option||Readwise, file (TXT, CSV, HTML, MD, PNG, Copy-paste)||Sync to Roam, Obsidian, Notion, Readwise, Kindle, print, PDF, image file|
|Visibility of highlights and notes||Public (except for imported Kindle highlights and Notes)||Private|
|Unique Features||Community-focused experience, Atomic Interest Graph, Atomic Notes||Private reading experience, newsletter reader, listen to web articles|
If you are not sure which one to choose, you can try out both apps and see which one works well for you.