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June 24, 2013

In depth article: Google Reader DIES on June 30, Here is a List of RSS Reader Alternatives (also: don't forget to Export your Google Reader Data!)

June 30 is the last day for Google Reader, the most popular RSS reader at the time Google decided to end-of-life it. A number of alternatives exist today and even more are in development. There are plenty of choices out there.

If you are reading the Noisy Blogs using Google Reader, these are the individual feeds to add to your new RSS readers. All our feeds are currently free and full-text!

+ main blog full-text RSS feed (this one)

+ Camera Deals blog full-text RSS feed

+ Camera Reviews stream full-text RSS feed

+ Lens Reviews stream full-text RSS feed

UPDATE 7/3/13
The Google Reader service is gone, but you have until July 15 in 2013 to export your data either using Google Takeout or one of the alternate services that use the Google Reader API or one of the options mentioned below.

Details at Google and Web Pro News.

UPDATE 6/30/13 and 7/1/13
If you wish to save everything, not just the list of RSS feeds you subscribe to, but also likes, shares, recommendations, comments, etc, there is a new Github Python tool that can do that using the Google Reader API. Details at Reader is Dead and mihaip @ github.

Meanwhile, if you want a snapshot of some of the available alternatives by feature and operating system, 14 options are compared in a tablet at Marketing Land.

And another group evaluation, this one from a Mac and iOS perspective at

All via Techmeme.

Based on my experience (of the ones I tried so far) and based on what the internets are saying, if you want to stay as close to the original Google Reader as possible, two of the best options are Feedly and "The Old Reader".

Feedly is the most versatile, it now has a web-based cloud reading option, browser plug-ins, along with Android and iOS apps and Kindle Fire apps. And they have opened up their system for third-party apps to hook into them, so people on other platforms (Windows, Blackberry, etc) can have more options as well.

Even my chaotic and messy Google Reader account with hundreds (if not thousands) of feeds was imported successfully, much to my surprise. It happened on the second attempt, the first attempt timed out.

However, there is a potential deal killer for some people. The only way to use Feedly right now is to connect your Google Account to Feedly. You can't upload an OPML file directly to Feedly. You have to give them access to your Google account via Oath. For millions of people, this is not an issue. However, if you have a lot of sensitive data in Google and you are concerned about privacy and security and such, you have a decision to make.

Because Feedly accesses your Google Reader account, it can pull your whole Google Reader account as it is. You don't have to re-set-it-up again. And it will keep it synced to Google Reader until 6/30/13.

If the idea of giving Feedly access rights to your Google account freaks you out, the next best option in my opinion is The Old Reader. This looks very similar to what Google Reader was a couple of years ago before Google removed the social features. You can register with any email address you like. It doesn't have as many bells and whistles as Feedly, but it is simple and straightforward and very Google-Reader-y. You have to manually import your feeds via OPML. My OPML import was smooth and fairly quick.

There is a however for The Old Reader as well - both the Likes and the Shares are public. There is no practical way (as far as I can tell) to mark (bookmark with the Like option) an item without the marking being public. For example, some people may not want their "Liking" of a "hemorrhoids DIY remedies" blog-post to be automatically added to their The Old Reader Likes feed :) The Old Reader was spun off from Google Reader after Google removed the social features, so The Old Reader's raison d^etre are the social features.

One high profile resurrection was Bloglines, the web-based reader of choice before Google Reader took over. The resurrection was partly made possible by sponsor Merchant Circle. Bloglines is now powered by Netvibes which offers its own RSS reader as well. Bloglines has a Google Reader-esque interface as well and the OPML import was successful as well.

A service that is also very close to the classic Google Reader is G2 Reader. It looks smooth, simple and streamlined. I have not been able to successfully import the same OPML file (or other test files) that I was able to import into the other services I tried.

Another service that was able to digest my OPML file without issue and looks promising is Good Noows. One issue is that you can't bookmark articles within Good News. But you can easily send them to Instapaper, Pocket, Springpad, Readability and Evernote for later reading. Good Noows has a dozen different styles. "Executive Ticker" is the closest to classic Google Reader.

Bloglovin also digested my monster OPML file but it is not similar to Google Reader. It only has a basic visual magazine-style interface without a headlines only option for power users. But if its style works for you, then success!

Feedshow is another service that digested the giant OPML file without problem, but they don't offer a blended view of all feeds. You have to check them one by one. Not an issue if you are following half a dozen feeds, but if you have a lot more, it can be cumbersome. On the plus size, they offer a three-panel view, so you can scan the list of posts on the top and read the select post in the bottom panel. The user interface is a little 90s. But if it works for you...

Another online service that launched in the Google Reader aftermath is Feed Reader. I haven't tried this one yet.

You can find a lot more options via the "Further Reading" section below...

If you are planning to read mostly from the same desktop computer, one of the oldest apps, Feed demon (Windows) is now free in its premium edition. Free because the developer will no longer update it. But if it works for you as it is right now, success! It digested my giant OPML file without a problem. If you prefer an actively developed Windows application, there is Great News and Feed Reader which also just launched an online web-based version as well.

On the Mac side of things, we had another resurrection, Net News Wire is back and under development for a Google Reader free experience.

Linux users have their desktop applications as well, including Liferea.

Another option that covers all three of the above platforms and even comes with an Eclipse plug-in is RSS Owl.

On the other hand, if you are a really hands-on and control-first person, you can create your own RSS reader by using Tiny Tiny RSS.

You can find a lot more options via the "Further Reading" section below...

RSS in the browser is also an option (also: Browser Plug Ins)
A simple way to keep up with RSS feeds is your own web browser. Both Firefox and Opera have native RSS support that can help you keep up with RSS feeds. You can always create a separate instance of the browsers just for RSS reading/tracking, so it won't load/overload your regular web browsing.

In addition to native RSS support, there are many browser plug-ins and extensions that offer RSS functionality in varying degrees for Firefox and Chrome et al.

In addition to many of the options mentioned above that offer mobile apps, the popularity of smartphones and tablets launched a new generation of mobile-first RSS readers. There are countless options here as well, including Flipboard, Pulse, Taptu (DJ your news), Zite, Reeder (iOS), News 360, gReader, Press, FeedMe, Feed+, etc, etc, etc, offering varying degrees of functionality and flexibility.

Furthermore, a number of mobile apps are plugging into existing services, and those will be switching to new sources now that Google Reader is gone. Feedly for example has a handful of compatible third-party mobile apps including Press.

If you are not mad at Google for killing Google Reader, there's also Google Currents :)

Most of the services are currently free. However, if you feel betrayed by the unsustainable "free" model employed by Google and instead you want to fund a service, to increase the chances of it surviving on its merits versus the decisions of some Googlehead, there are a few for-pay services. is available for paying customers only. It costs $2 per month or $20 per year and it is compatible with a variety of reader apps including Reeder and Press. More on their blog.

Newsblur is available for $24 per year and has a lot more features than their free account. Currently during the Google Reader end of life cycle, only paying members can register immediately.

Another for pay service going for $19 per year is Feed Wrangler.

In addition to these, a number of the open-source and free services are accepting donations, while some of the other services are working on plans to make money to sustain their service, such as launching premium editions.

In addition to the existing readers and the resurrection of previously dead RSS readers, there are currently three new high profile readers in beta. Digg is feverishly working on their own RSS plus Digg reader (see The Verge). A couple of months ago Digg's parent company acquired Instapaper (not a coincidence!)

The other high profile comes from none other than AOL! Now a spaghetti of many tech companies old and new, AOL is probably a wild card. More on the AOL beta at AOL's Engadget.

Breaking news while I was writing this, Facebook is also working on a newsreader of sorts, more Flipboard style according to Mashable et al.

There are hundreds of "Google Reader alternatives" posts on the internets. We went through a lot of them. These are some of the most helpful...

+ The Verge
+ CNet (Desktops) and CNet How To and more CNet
+ Lifehacker and more Lifehacker
+ NYT Personal Tech
+ Marketing Land
+ Geekadda
+ Gizmodo
+ eWeek
+ Extreme Tech
+ AOLington Post
+ WaPo
+ The Dookies
+ Blogging Tips
+ list of Google Reader alternatives
+ list of Feedly alternatives
+ list of RSS readers (comprehensive list)

YOU MUST DO THIS BEFORE JUNE-30-2013: Export Your Google Reader Data
The one hard deadline that you can't avoid is June 30, 2013. If you want to preserve the list of RSS feeds you have in Google Reader, you must export them by that date.

Click on the Settings icon on the right side of the Google Reader page (green circle below). Select "Reader Settings" from the menu...


Then locate the Import/Export tab in the gray bar. Click on the "Download your data through Takeout" link. This will take you to the Google Takeout page. It will take a few seconds to prepare. Then you click on "Create Archive".

The first half of the screenshot below is what you see while it is in progress. The second half is after the export ends. Google will bundle all your data in a compressed Zip file. It doesn't take five hours, I created multiple exports for testing purposes in the screenshot below...


Click on the blue "Download" button and save the .Zip file to your computer. The Zip file has eight files inside. The file with your RSS feed subscriptions is titled "subscriptions.xml". This is the OPML file. It has all your subscriptions in a single file, they are not broken down by Google Reader folders or categories.

The XML file has a simple structure, so if you know what you are doing, you can remove any feeds you are not interested in by editing it. Always a good idea to create a few backups before editing though.

It is important to note that while your list of RSS feeds will be exported, not all your Google Reader data will be exported. For example, read/unread flags, tags, etc, are not part of the Takeout. If you use the Feedly import-from-Google-Reader method, you can salvage more stuff, but still, it is not everything.

If you want to export only specific Google Reader Folder subscriptions, you can't do it through Google Takeout, but thankfully there is a very simple way to do this, explained by the Google OS blog and Jeet blog.

Basically, while you are logged on to your Google Reader account, go to the url, where FOLDER is the name of YOUR folder in Google Reader. For example, if you have a Google Reader folder named "canon" where you put all your Canon-related RSS feeds, go to You do not need to edit anything else in the url.

The result is an XML file displayed in the browser. Use the browser's "Save Page As" (in Firefox; similar options in other browsers) to save the XML/OPML file to your computer. Then you can use this file to import your subscriptions to your new RSS readers. Most of them have an OPML import option.

It is important to note that while your list of RSS feeds will be exported, not all your Google Reader data will be exported. For example, read/unread flags, tags, etc are not part of the Takeout. If you use the Feedly import-from-Google-Reader method, you can salvage more stuff, but still, it is not everything.

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