Use Omnivore App Instead of Email App for Newsletters

Every year, I go through a digital purge. Throughout the year, I tend to add newsletters to my reading list. Most of my newsletters feed into a Gmail account with a series of labels. And while I’m good at finding things in Gmail, this didn’t help me act on the content.  I wanted a system where I could easily find newsletters,  annotate, delete, or even export to another app like Logseq. And this is where the Omnivore App comes in.

What is Omnivore?

Omnivore is a free open-source “read-it-later app” that works in your browser or mobile app. Alternatively, you can download the source files from GitHub if you prefer self-hosting. While this software category may not be common, you’re probably familiar with services like Instapaper, Pocket, and Feedly, to name a few. The idea is you can save content you wish to read for later. It’s not restricted to email newsletters, as you can easily save web pages or PDF documents.

This capture ability allows you to read and process the content at a different time and not worry about the pull of email. Email newsletters arrive automatically at your designated Omnivore email address and go into the Newsletters section under the Subscriptions area.

From there, I can process the content by highlighting essential parts and applying custom labels.

Omnivore Newsletter Inbox

Your email newsletters come automatically to your Inbox with an assigned label of Newsletter. The layout is much easier to read than what you see in most email applications. The items are nicely spaced with a small thumbnail, delivery time, reading duration, title, newsletter name, and source. 

My Omnivore app newsletter inbox.

If this layout doesn’t appeal to you, there are additional options from the right side. Clicking the square icon at the top will switch to a grid layout with large thumbnails. And, if you click your profile button, you can select between light and dark modes.

Omnivore app controls for theme and grid layout.

What’s appealing is I can quickly see all my unread items in chronological order or use the sidebar to select a specific newsletter.  The experience is very similar on mobile devices.  If you’re on an iOS device, you also have a text-to-speech option that allows you to hear the article. Below is how my inbox looks on my Pixel phone.

Omnivore app on my Android phone.

Subscribing to an Email Newsletter

Like many read-later applications, Omnivore creates a dedicated email address that you use to subscribe. Some newsletters will send you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. In the majority of cases, these emails came into Omnivore. However, if the formatting is substantially different, the confirmation email might go to the email address you used when you created your Omnivore account. The newsletter will come into Omnivore even if you confirm via your original email.

This process went smoothly for me. I’ve added a couple dozen newsletters and have encountered 2 stubborn ones. Some newsletters didn’t like my email address. Typically, these are smaller email service providers (ESP). This is similar to certain providers not liking Gmail addresses that use the + sign.

I was also surprised that a few newsletters I already subscribed to didn’t allow me to change email addresses. This would be easier as I could edit my existing subscription with the new Omnivore address. Instead, they insisted on adding a new subscription and unsubscribing from the original. 

You also have the option of creating multiple email addresses.

Reading and Acting on a Newsletter

The problem I think many of us have is what we do with our newsletters if they contain info nuggets. Part of my dilemma with my Gmail account is I really couldn’t act on the item other than archiving or deleting it. In contrast, Omnivore allows me to add notes, highlights, and labels. In addition, you can export items or highlights to applications like Obsidian or Logseq. Both these programs have plugins that offer this functionality.

Newsletter layout showing Omnivore controls.

[A] This Omnivore icon returns you to the main menu.

[B] The mini sidebar lets you act on the individual item. I can add more labels, open the notebook [D], change meta information, and delete or archive the item.

[C] This is the newsletter item with the default label.

[D] This is the notebook area. It allows me to add optional notes. It also shows any passages I’ve highlighted and their labels. If I close the notebook, I’ll see the controls to change fonts and sizes. You can also add labels and notes to each highlighted item.

Typically, I’ll read a newsletter and highlight interesting passages. I have a template in Logseq that will pull in Omnivore highlights. From there, I’ll archive the item to remove it from my Inbox. 

If you have existing subscriptions and use Gmail, you could create a Gmail forwarding rule.

Finding Data

A key advantage to Omnivore is that I can easily find items whether I’ve highlighted a passage or not. While you can use the sidebar to filter by subscription or label, I prefer the Search bar at the top. The found items are sorted by your saved date.  

Search TypeSearch Syntax
Find the phrase “context building” in any contentin:all “context building”
Find items with the label “promptlabel:prompt
Find items with both “prompt” label AND “chatgpt” label.label:prompt label:chatgpt
Find items with either “prompt” label OR “chatgpt” label.label:prompt,chatgpt
Find unread items with the text “super bowlis:unread “super bowl”

Exporting Info

One drawback is Omnivore doesn’t have a direct “export” option. However, there are several options. As I mentioned above, I use a LogSeq plugin that ports over specific information from articles. Obsidian has a similar integration. Apart from those two solutions, you could use webhooks or their API.  I suspect more options will become available as the product evolves. 

On balance, I’m quite pleased with the service, which has made my reading process more efficient. If you’ve struggled to keep up with your newsletters, I suggest you try Omnivore. I find it’s become a great read-it-later solution that works across multiple devices. While my intent was to use it primarily for newsletters, I’m starting to use it for capturing web pages, RSS feeds, and PDF files.