We’ve told you about the main web-based alternatives to Google’s beloved but departed RSS service, which defined the RSS reading genre so well most competitors stopped bothering to compete. Feedly is probably the most feature filled, Newsblur is easy to use and Feedbin, while not free, is worth the $2 a month.
But what about desktop apps? The Mac has long been home to some of the best desktop RSS apps out there, but many depended on Google Reader for syncing and basic functionality. What are the best alternatives to the now-broken clients like Reeder? Here are the best I’ve found.
Originally built to sync with read later services like Instapaper and Pocket, ReadKit is probably the best RSS app for Mac out there right now. Why? It syncs with Feedly, Newsblur, Feedbin and more – meaning you can use ReadKit on your Mac and keep reading on your portable device without any hiccups.
But there’s more here than just syncing: this app makes sharing with other apps easy and includes all the keyboard shortcuts you’d expect a modern reader app to include. It even offers Readability, allowing you to pull in full-text versions of articles in one keystroke.
Sure, it’s design is a not-so-subtle nod to Reeder, but that app’s Mac reincarnation is still forthcoming. And even when Reeder does come out, it will be hard for even that app to match the balance of features and simplicity ReadKit’s put together. It combines all of your online reading in one place. Read more about ReadKit.
NewsNetWire ($10 pre-release, $20 thereafter)
Launched in 2002, NewsNetWire is the oldest RSS reader out there for Mac – and among the longest-developed programs on the platform. And now it’s experiencing a rebirth of sorts, with the fourth version expected soon.
You’ll immediately notice the app fits right in on modern Macs, with an interface that resembles a mail client. Browsing articles with the arrow key and space bar is easy, and a tabbed interface allows you to allow full versions of articles to load in the background.
NewsNetWire 4 is, as of this writing, in development. They’re currently offering a $10 pre-order with beta access, but the program will eventually cost $20.
The free and open source alternative Vienna is a solid RSS reader that won’t cost you anything. The interface is simple, and browsing your feeds is easy. It also includes built-in sharing with Buffer.
Vienna supports Open Reader, an open source API web-based RSS services can use to provide syncing services. Major services like Feedly haven’t implemented this standard yet, however, so you’ll be limited to two relatively obscure services:
If you’d rather not pay for a desktop RSS reader, Vienna is well worth checking out – and it offers more syncing options than NetNewsWire. Read more about Vienna, if you’re interested.
Menu Bar Options
Not sure you want a full-blown RSS reader for your desktop? There are menu bar options, like Feeds (free):
Simon outlined 3 menu bar apps for staying on top of your RSS feeds. Check that list out if you’re interested.
Of course, it’s impossible to write about Mac RSS apps without discussing Reeder. This was long the clear leader for Mac RSS apps, but relied on Google Reader for pretty much everything. Updates capable of syncing with Feedly and more have been issued for the iPhone and iPad, but the Mac version remains broken. Stay tuned, though, because if the previous version is anything to go by it will be fast and feature filled.
And there are other apps worth checking out. Leaf is an attractive app that leaves some advanced features out in favor of simplicity, and is getting a lot of really great reviews.It doesn’t sync with anything post-Reader, but might be perfect for someone seeking a simple alternative that looks great.
I couldn’t possibly outline every RSS reader for Mac here, so I need your help: which awesome apps did I miss? Fill me in below, okay?