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googlereadertopleft.gif Last time we looked at the most essential keyboard shortcuts for Gmail Essential Shortcuts to Browse through Gmail Faster Essential Shortcuts to Browse through Gmail Faster Read More to help you process your email faster. Today we going to do the same for your RSS feeds in Google Reader. I currently have 278 RSS feeds in my Google Reader and I can whizz through them all solely by using my keyboard. Where we’re going, who needs a mouse?

So let’s say you’ve been away from your computer for a bit and you come back to HUNDREDS of posts in your Reader. No worries. Using your mouse this one and only time, go to the “view settings” box at the top of the screen, drop it down and choose “Sort by Oldest” :

googlereadersortbyoldest.gifSo using that setting, you will ALWAYS get the oldest post at the top of the page. You’ll see the advantage of this in a minute. Now chuck that mouse away and go back to your keyboard.

So when you go to the Google Reader page and you see all your hundreds of posts, the first thing you should do is hit the space bar. That immediately takes you to the first post (the oldest post) at the top of the page and opens it for you :


OK, now you’re well on your way. Say you’re interested in reading more about that story. Want to open it in a browser? Hit V on your keyboard and Reader will open the link for you in a new tab / window (depending on how you have your browser configured). Want to share the link? Press SHIFT + S. Want to star it? Press S. Press T to edit your tags and e to email the link to someone.


When you want to move to the next post, just press J. If you want to go back to a previous post, press K. Using J and K you can rapidly move through hundreds of feeds in no time at all, stopping every now and then to hit V to open the interesting posts in a browser and hit T to tag them in Reader. You’d be amazed at how fast you can go doing it this way.

To refesh the whole page and update your feeds, press R and the whole page and feed counts will be instantly refreshed for you.

To jump to other folders, Reader employs the same tactics as Gmail (almost). Just hit G on your keyboard but unlike Gmail, no Launchy-type black box comes up with options. Instead, fast after the G, just type the first letter of the folder, you want to go to. So the home page would be G then H in rapid succession. Starred items are G and then S in rapid succession. You get the idea. If you have problems, just hit the question mark key on your keyboard for help.

In many ways, Google Reader’s shortcuts are the easiest of the lot to learn. Once you have things set up the way you want them, the shortcuts are fairly easy to remember. The hardest part is telling your hand not to instinctively reach for that mouse sitting there mournfully on the pad wondering if it has to go into retirement.

In part 3, we’re going to take the mountain of Firefox shortcuts and tell you only the basic ones you need to know to work your browser. Watch out for that by subscribing to the Make Use Of RSS feed!

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  1. Sumesh
    March 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    @Mark O'Neill: I don't have worthless junk feeds in my reader (I subscribe to non-news, full feeds only), but I come across a lot of junk items in usually good feeds. Example, Mashable, TechCrunch etc., whose some posts I like, but others I loathe.

  2. Sumesh
    March 17, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Nice tips, but you forgot N and P to move through items in list view without actually opening them. I find this useful to scan through worthless junk in no time.

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 17, 2008 at 7:32 am

      If you have worthless junk in your RSS reader, maybe you should consider unsubscribing from the feed itself! ;-)

  3. Brainiac
    March 16, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Cool tips. Thanks for recommending 'sort by oldest' view mode, it DOES make a great difference. :-)

  4. Shankar Ganesh
    March 16, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Good tips there!

    J and K are my most used shortcuts for Google Reader.