Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

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google reader stylesAre you the kind of person that keeps up with the latest news? If you are, then you will be familiar with RSS feeds. One of the most well-known names in the realm of online RSS clients is Google Reader. Even though the service has gradually improved its interface, it’s still just lists of texts.

If you are a Google Reader user who wishes to try a different interface, you might want to try NewsSquares, a Chrome extension which will add style and interactivity to Google Reader.

News In Squares

Start by visiting the NewsSquares extension page and installing it in your Chrome browser.

google reader styles

You can customize the extension by going to the Chrome Extensions page, locating NewsSquares from the list, and clicking on the “Options” link.

google reader appearance

There are many elements you can customize on the Options page, but the most important for first users is the NewsSquares URL under the “Use NewsSquares as Homepage” option. Copy and paste the URL into Chrome’s address bar and hit “Enter“.

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google reader appearance

You’ll see NewsSquares’ starting page. Click “Start” to begin. After clicking the button, NewsSquares will start building your “news wall“. Please note that you have to log into your Google account before you start NewsSquares because it needs your Google Reader data.

google reader appearance

To see what changes will happen to your Google Reader before and after using NewsSquares, here’s the screenshot of the original Google Reader. You can see the list of news on the main pane, while the sources are listed on the sidebar.

change google reader appearance

Here’s what it looks like under NewsSquares. News sources are arranged into colorful squares with the latest articles featured upfront. More news from one source will be available after clicking on the square.

change google reader appearance

Adding News

As a first step, NewsSquares will offer to add more news subscriptions to your news wall.

change google reader appearance

There are two panes you can use to add news subscriptions.

02b pick news

The left pane allows you to pick sources based on topics. Choose one of the topics from the left sidebar, then add the sources to your Google Reader by clicking the “Add” button.

02c topics

Alternatively, you could also search for the topic on the right pane, and add sources from the search results.

02d find favs

There’s one other way you can use to add sources to NewsSquares. When you are on a webpage, right click that page, and choose “Add to NewsSquares“.

05f add to ns

Filtering & Reading

To read news, you can browse around the squares and pick one of the sources. But you can also filter them to get a clearer view. There are filtering options at the bottom of the screen. You can search the sources, show the unread ones only, or show by categories.

03b bottom menu

For example, I put “makeuseof” into the search field and the one square that appears shows MakeUseOf articles.

03f search

Clicking on a square will open up the reading pane. The selected article is displayed in the middle while other articles are floating about at the bottom of the screen.

04a reading news

The reading menu on the left allows you to close the reading window, mark all articles as read, shrink or enlarge the source square, and unsubscribe from the source.

04b side menu

If you scroll down to the bottom of an open article, you’ll find options to share the article, view it on its original webpage, give stars, like, keep it unread, and add tags. This is also the place where you can find options to play audio content (for podcasts).

04c bottom article

Keep NewsSquares Open

To keep yourself always updated on all the news you follow, you can use Chrome’s “Pin” feature. Right click on NewsSquares’ tab and choose “Pin Tab” from the pop-up menu.

google reader styles

This action will put the pinned tab on the far left of the tabs, and it will always be opened every time you (re)start Chrome.

05b pinned tab

News junkies who use both Google Reader and Chrome will find NewsSquares as a fresh alternative to read RSS feeds on Google Reader.

Have you tried NewsSquares? What do you think about it? Do you know other alternative methods to hack Google Reader? Please share ideas using the comments below.

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Comments (3)
  • thenonhacker

    Can’t help but think it’s a rip-off of the Metro UI Design Philosophy. :)

  • Dan

    It looks like a messy way to read one’s daily feeds. I’ll stick with Reader for now, and hope the new Gmail theme (Preview Dense) would trickle down to it.

  • Ryan

    I’ve been using Newssquares for quite a while now and I love it!

Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.