[UPDATE: Despite my optimistic predictions in this post, Springpad is closing down on June 25, 2014.  Goodbye, Springpad.  I hardly knew ye.]

Pinterest has been pissing me off for months.  If you use it, you may or may not have experienced their “suggested pins”, “related pins” and the like.  It’s like someone is spamming your home page.  I understand they are piloting ways to eventually make money on the site, and I don’t begrudge anyone making money.  However, making the product annoying is hardly the way to go. Multiple times my home page was filled with things like meat-based recipes (I’ve been a vegetarian for 35 years) or very crafty things (I have more of an artisan aesthetic.)  The final straw was when they forced me to follow entire boards I wasn’t interested in, so suddenly 9 million of something I care nothing about was obscuring my own pins, and I had no way to get rid of them.  Had they put ad pins in a separate place (like a sidebar) I would have clicked on some.  Had they asked me to pay a monthly fee or purchased an app, I would have done so.  But they didn’t; they just chased me away.

So, I went searching for alternatives, and the one I settled on is Springpad.  It is free.  It is fairly visual (although I don’t think it is as pretty as Pinterest) and allows for organizing items into notebooks.  So far I have various notebooks for jewelry, recipes, clothing, and home care.  You can tag the items as well as add comments and pictures (or other media.)  You can have Springpad on your computer and other devices. I added the app to my phone as well.  Everything you add one place will also be on other devices.  You can make notebooks public or private.  There is a “Spring It!” button to make saving things from the web easy.  There are many similarities to Pinterest.  It is not as popular, so I will miss having my primary “magazine file” application include the people I enjoy following.  I’m hoping more people will move to it.  But it is more important to me to be able to see things I save without a bunch of spam obscuring it.


Springpad logo – hope I’m allowed to use this!

In addition, I am adding a great organizing tool.  You can make lists and notes. I often decide at the last moment to go grocery shopping when I’m out and about, but I rarely happen to have my list with me.  I try to visualize the items I’ve written on the paper that is under the magnet on my fridge, but I inevitably forget things.  Now I will always have my grocery list on my phone through Springpad.

I have transferred all my recipes over already.  That is something I use often, but it was more manageable than all of my jewelry pins.  Although transferring everything is a bit of a hassle (like getting a new internet service provider or operating system) it is also a chance to spring clean.  There are pins I no longer care about, and those won’t get transferred.  I’m also going to organize better. Instead of one giant board called “jewelry” I’m going to have several notebooks – jewelry, jewelry related and beads/components, I think.  I am also tagging items “earrings”, “necklace” etc. in addition to the artist’s name so searching for something will be easy.  That wasn’t always the case on Pinterest, and I could never figure out why.

It appears to me that Springpad has already found a way to be self-sustaining. They have a Notebook Store where you can get notebooks created by others.  I got an organizing notebook by Peter Walsh.  It was free, but it has links that perhaps are ads.  But I’ve chosen to see them, rather than having them forced on me.  It’s possible other notebooks have a charge, and in looking at them, it was clear some were advertising related products.  Springpad will also keep track of things you have tagged and let you know when it’s on sale or suggest a wine to go with a recipe you’ve saved.  So there is probably some commerce aspect there.  I’m glad; that indicates Springpad will be around for a while, and I won’t have to switch again.

I’ve only been using Springpad for a short time, so I’m sure I will find more functionality as I go along.  I’m really pleased to have found a new organizing tool to save my favorite things that I can feel in control of rather than having it control me.

You can see and follow my public Springpad notebooks here.  My jewelry notebook is a little thin now, but I know it will be filling up with old favorites and the new beauties I come across all the time!