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rss readerWith all the attention and buzz around social networks, some people predicted the demise of RSS. RSS however soldiers on and in fact, most of the social networks either directly provide RSS feeds for things you might be interested in, or there are clever hacks to get RSS feeds for your favorite pages.

One of the most popular RSS readers comes from the big G – Google – and provides a ton of interesting and unique features. The only downside?  You can’t use it when you’re offline. Web based RSS reader apps might be the future, but the future isn’t here yet and every now and then you need desktop alternatives for those cool online web apps. Desktop Google Reader is one such software.

A 6MB download, it installs in a snap without any issues. Do note that while the name would have you believe that Google has something to with the software, it is actually created and maintained without Google’s aid. It does however sync with Google’s awesome RSS Reader, and that’s about where the association ends.

After the software is installed, go ahead and run it. It asks for credentials for your Google account that is associated with Google Reader. Once the login is successful, you are greeted by a familiar desktop email client-like interface. The feeds are listed on the left side, click on a feed and all the items in the feed are displayed in the top right pane.

Clicking on any item in the top right pane opens up the complete feed content for that item in the bottom right pane. The interface thus is like the “List” view inside Google Reader, only you get to see the contents in the bottom right pane.

Desktop Google Reader


Initially it does take some time to sync all your unread items on to your desktop. To be fair, I do have a enormous reading list. After the initial sync, you can start using Desktop Google Reader in all its glory. In the left pane you have buttons to refresh feed content, mark all items as read, add or remove a feed and configure desktop Google reader.

You can move through the items using arrow keys and then there are additional buttons within the bottom right pane to perform various actions on the item.

rss reader

You can for example, like, share, email and tag the feed item. In addition to these Google Reader functions, you can also add the feed item to Read it Later Build an Online Reading List with "Read It Later" Build an Online Reading List with "Read It Later" Read More or Instapaper Manage Your Bookmarks & Reading List with Instapaper Manage Your Bookmarks & Reading List with Instapaper Read More to read them in your free time. Last but not least, you can of course tweet what you are reading, from the comforts of your RSS reader.

Desktop Google Reader uses Chromium Diet Chromium - A Slimmer Chrome OS That Supports More Hardware Diet Chromium - A Slimmer Chrome OS That Supports More Hardware Read More to render the contents of feeds which you can use to browse links in the feed’s content or you can simply hit the ‘Tab’ key to open up the post in your default browser.

Desktop Google Reader

Desktop Google Reader also displays notifications whenever a feed updates. You can read the headline and choose to visit the page by clicking on the appropriate button on the notification.

In addition to all the features, Desktop Google Reader allows you to tweak its settings using the preferences dialog (accessible via the Preferences button in the menu).

The Preferences dialog lets you configure various aspects of the software. You can vary the refresh interval, choose how the summary is displayed or tweak what gets displayed on the notifications that pop up. In addition Desktop Google Reader lets you configure proxy servers as well as usernames and passwords for Read it Later and Instapaper all from within the Preferences dialog.

Desktop Google Reader is a nice desktop client for Google Reader. The included social features are awesome and notifications can help you stay on top of updates and you can turn them off and minimize Desktop Google Reader to tray when you want to stay away from distractions. What’s best, you can access all your Google Reader feeds even when you are offline!

Do you use desktop RSS readers? Which is your favorite?

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