Google Reader is an extremely fast, uncluttered, easy-to-use, and probably the best web-based FeedReader. It incorporates several desired features: ‘feed tagging’ letting you tag and store desired items for future reference, ‘item starring’ to star important items on-the-go, and perfectly implemented ‘sharing’ feature that lets you share items with friends not only via email but also through an RSS-enabled webpage. Whether you’re a feed-loaded blogger or an occasional reader who is unfond of StartPages and looking for a simple yet sufficient feedreader than definitely give it a try.
The best part of Google Reader, like in the case of other Google Goodies, i.e. Gmail and Google Calendar, there are many third-party tools making it even better. These include new item notifiers, addons for offline access, Greasemonkey (?) scripts, one-click shortcuts and more.
(1) Google Gears – recently released open source browser extension that lets you run web applications (incl. Google Reader) offline. Once installed, login to your GReader account and you’ll see a small green circle next to the right top menu. This button lets you download your feeds to your PC and afterwards access GReader offline. Everything you have done while being offline will be synced with your Greader account during the next time you go online.
(2) Desktop Notifiers
- for Mac: Reader Notifier, GROSX
- for Win: GReader Notifier
- for Firefox: Google Reader Notifier
- for Internet Explorer: Google Reader Button (Requires Google Toolbar ver. 4)
- Yahoo Widgets (Win, Mac): Google Reader Notify, more on Yahoo Widgets …
- Mac DashBoard Widget
- for Google Desktop Sidebar (or iGoogle): Gadget for iGoogle
- Vista Sidebar Gadget: while there is no specific Vista gadget there is a handy tool known as Amnesty Generator that lets you convert any web widget (i.e. GReader gadget for iGoogle) to a Vista sidebar gadget.
(4) Browser Bookmarklets – to make things easier Google Reader provides three handy browser bookmarklets (access via ‘Settings’ -> ‘Goodies’). These include: one-click feed subscribe and two handy browsing shortcuts (to the next unread item and next unread item from a specific tag).
*** Firefox Addons ***
(5) Better GReader – worth checking 3-in-1 firefox extension that adds a bunch of useful options which can be enabled within Google Reader. These include: optimized interface, some navigational shortcuts and smart subscribe button. Each of these can be also installed separately as a Greasemonkey script, see below.
*** GreaseMonkey Scripts (What is GreaseMonkey?) ***
(6) Custom Search – adds a custom Google-powered search box to Google Reader. (see it in action below)
(7) Google Reader + Del.icio.us – bookmark items to Del.icio.us without leaving your Reader page. (see it in action below)
(8) Original Item Preview – very cool script that replaces Google’s item summary with the actual blog item. For instance, you’ll be able to Digg and to comment on Digg articles directly from your Reader account. (see it in action below)
(9) Read by Mouse – yet another handy addon that lets you navigate items using mouse gestures. Once turned on, left and right mouse buttons will function as shortcuts to next and previous feed items, respectively. Middle button can be configured to initiate ‘star’, ‘share’, or ‘open in a new tab’ functionalities. (see it in action below)
Screenshot: (for scripts 6-9 + Google Gears). Click here, to enlarge and launch it in a new window.
(10) Auto Add – lets you bypass the page that asks you whether you want to add the feed to “˜Personalized Homepage’ (iGoogle) or Google Reader when you click on a feed. Directly takes you to Google Reader, so that you can subscribe.
(11) Smart Subscribe – shows if the webpage you are on has already been listed among your subscriptions.
(13) Google Reader Folders on Gmail – adds a little box to your Gmail page that lists GReader folders along with the number of unread items in each.
Visual (Note: ‘Optimized’, ‘Mac OS X Theme’ scripts and Better ‘GReader’ extension may conflict with scripts from ‘Interface Enhancements’ section)
(14) Optimized – removes rarely used items to maximize the reading area. On occasions when you need to go through hundreds of items at once, this stripped-down interface may be preferable.
(16) Colourful List View – colorizes the item headers in your Google Reader. Each feed gets a specific color.
(17) *** Excellent Keyboard Shortcuts ***
- r: Refresh
- u: Hide/Unhide sidebar menu
- s: toogle Star
- t: Tag an item
- m: mark feed item as Read/Unread
- j/k: feed item Down/Up
- o: Open/Close item
- Shift+a: mark all as Read
- g+s: go to Starred items
- g+t: launches a small quick-navigation tag menu showing all of your tags
- more shortcuts …
*** Mobile Tools ***
(18) GReader Mobile – mobile version of Google Reader.
(19) HowTo: – some lazy folks may also want to check out this fun writeup on how to use your Bluetooth-enabled cellphone as remote control for Google Reader.
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