Filter Item: Read/Unread

It would be nice to be able to filter items whether they have been read or not.


That also comes up a lot. The question is how you define ‘read’? Do you mean you have opened the PDF?

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In my current workflow I actually have three status labels (user defined in Sente): Examine, Reading, Finished. The first is for PDFs I’ve not looked at yet or opened, the second for ones I’m in the process of reading, and the third for one’s that I have either finished or decided to skip. However, I suggest that a more robust solution for a service like this would be to have a gmail like “read” status indicator which, by default, automatically switches from “unread” to “read” the first time the PDF is opened. Then there would be two options: users could either manually mark items as “keep unread” on an individual basis if they want, or there would be a system level option to keep all items as unread unless the user manually marks them as read. Personally I would use this option (to manually mark things as read), but I think a lot of other people might be happier with the suggested default.


I’d also like having this feature, though at the moment I also just use a status label “READ”

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I was going to suggest Read/Unread just like in Gmail as well instead of applying and removing labels manually. In the meantime, I’d be interested in other people’s workflows that work well!

I’ve tried a few different workflows, but I think I’ve come up with one that works for me.

At one point I tried using the unicode “★” character to filter ratings by priority. I also tried using various folders marked “read,” “unread,” “priority” etc. Neither of these worked very well for me. Ratings weren’t very useful unless combined with status, but status folders didn’t work very well for me because Paperpile doesn’t display folders as clearly as tags within the citation list; however, tags are a problem because they are sorted by frequency of use and so a tag for important documents will appear low on the list even though it is actually the most important tag.

My solution was to use tags which start with a “#” sign. This means I can quickly filter out only those tags related to read stats or priority by hitting the pound key. Then it is easy to filter or change status. Currently I have: #priority, #toread, #someday, #done, #skip, and #inbox for items not yet sorted.

I would also like to see a folder/label/filter for unread articles.

By unread I mean articles that have been imported into the library but never opened for first reading.

Thanks ahead!


Mendeley has such read/unread status indicator and to be honest it was more of an annoyance than useful. Opening the PDF would mark it as read, which is obviously not true (at least for me). So most of the time I was repetitively marking articles as unread.

Maybe some milder algorithm considering the size of the document and the amount of time you have it open in the viewer can give you a better estimate if a paper has been read or not.

Currently I just use starred papers as my “to be read” list.

Or a button at the bottom right of the opened document to ‘mark an article as read’ once you’re done with reading which would close the tab containing the PDF you were reading.


I think @nelas has a good point here. It’s unclear what’s ‘read/unread’ actually means and it means different things for different people. A read/unread function would impose a workflow or at least an organizational concept that is not as generic as say a folder, label or star. A star for example can mean different things for different people.

A read/unread flag is very specific and adds complexity and might even annoy users like @nelas’ experience with Mendeley shows.

A dedicated status indicator has several advantages over tags:

  1. If using tags one has to remember remove a status tag whenever adding a different status tag. This is not the case if there are separate status indicators since changing the status would be a single operation.

  2. Status indicators can be filtered. So I can look at all the unread items in a folder or a tag very easily.

  3. Status indicators help with workflow, as one moves through the different stages of the process from collecting material, to reading it, to using it in a paper, etc.

I personally prefer to give the user complete control over status indicators, as Sente does. However, I know that the cloud architecture of PP makes this difficult. For this reason I suggest three status markers: BLUE, GREEN, GREY. All new items would be BLUE by default, and the user can then click on them to change it to GREEN or GREY as they wish. For me the meanings would be NEW, UNREAD, and READ - but others might wish to interpret the colors differently. Perhaps one could even assign names to these status markers in one’s user-preferences? (NOTE: This is akin to how OS X handles labels.)


Thumbs up for Kerim’s suggestion.

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@kerim’s suggestion would be useful for me as well. I currently use the star as a “to read” list, but as my list can grow to 100+ papers, I also need to be able to assign different priority levels. Tags are not a great solution for the reasons already mentioned.

Yes, this would be very useful.

Thumbs up for this request. I personally would be happy with a “Read” checkbox that I can manually set, but I would also be on board with the generic status indicator idea. Just give us the option to put assign a color to each paper (represented by a small colored circle next to the title, perhaps), and let us filter by color. Something like 10 different colors should be enough for anybody, and those of us who want to just use it as Read/Unread can just use only 2 of the colors and ignore the others.

Using two colors has the same problem as labels: you have to turn one off when you turn the other on. It would really be much better to have a status indicator that doesn’t require this extra step…