It’s a shame that Google Reader is being retired soon, but it’s also a good time to realize that there are (and always have been) some incredibly viable alternatives to the service. I’d be lying if I said that I thought Google Reader was not the best web-based RSS feed reader available, but there are throngs of standalone RSS applications out there for your desktop or laptop.
If you’re being forced to look for a new solution to reading your RSS feeds, consider one of these! Dependency on the browser is something that really irks me about certain web-based services, and I’m pretty surprised that Google Reader itself never offered a desktop version of their RSS reader. With that in consideration, I’d like to show you one of my favorite RSS feed readers that runs separate from the browser.
Before even downloading QuiteRSS, there are several notable perks that should definitely be taken into consideration:
- It’s run on Qt.
- It’s cross-platform compatible.
- It’s completely open source.
On top of that, it’s got one of the most clean and elegant interfaces I’ve seen on an RSS reader. QuiteRSS is packed with quality features that you’d expect and require from a reader, but let’s set up a feed first and run through the motions just to show you easy working with this application really is.
Adding the MakeUseOf RSS feed is as simple as copying the feed’s URL and clicking Add. It will automatically be pasted within the field.
From here, all recent items will be displayed.
Now is a good time to note the Update Feed and Update All options in the toolbar. Although you are getting the freshest set of news when you first load a feed, these two buttons will respectively refresh a single RSS feed or refresh every RSS feed that you’ve run through QuiteRSS.
To the right of these options is a button to toggle the loading of images. If you’d prefer just news without pictures, clicking this button will do just that. Clicking it again will re-enable the loading of images in your feeds.
Clicking on a link in one of the RSS feed entries will load the URL within QuiteRSS’s Webkit browser. It is very smooth and I’ve had very few issues with rendering.
In the row above the entries, you’ll see icons that allow you to mark items as read, mark an entire feed as read, star or tag an item, share an item to Facebook, Evernote, and other services, filter news by status (unread, starred), and delete items.
Beneath the View menu, you’re able to select between various different application themes. These range from default “system” types to a few colors: green, orange, purple, pink, and gray. Above is an example of the System2 style. The difference is very subtle, but customization is important.
QuiteRSS’s options are extremely deep.
An application like an RSS reader is the type you want to keep active and open most of the time. That being said, it’s great that QuiteRSS works well with the Windows system tray. You’re able to customize how often it’s put in the tray and what your tray icon appears like. It’s convenient to be able to just peek into your tray and see the unread count for your feeds.
While QuiteRSS does offer a very quality built-in browser, make note that you’re completely able to use any external browser with the application.
Gmail has taught me how incredibly important labels can be, and if you’re a real RSS freak you know that organizing your feeds is a chore worth completing. You’re able to set up any amount of additional labels, use a custom icon, and change the text or background color of the row for entries belonging to a particular label.
Last to mention, but certainly not least, is an incredibly extensive list of keyboard shortcuts that QuiteRSS makes available to the user. Several defaults are set, but you can set a shortcut for anything. Marking feeds as read, starring items, setting labels, zooming, importing and exporting feeds, and opening an item in your external browser are just some of the things you can assign to a hotkey.
The QuiteRSS RSS feed reader offers nothing breathtaking or new to the world of standalone RSS readers, but it is executed properly. It is a reader worth checking out if powerful features and a quiet, clean design are high on your list of requirements. Do you know of a better standalone reader or want to let me know what you think of QuiteRSS? Drop us a comment below.