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For me, RSS feeds are the ideal way to keep up to date with all the websites I’m interested in – a centralised news-pool, so you don’t have to check your browser every five minutes just to stay on top of the news. Google Reader does a great job organizing your RSS feeds, and Reeder wonderfully integrates Google Reader on your Mac.
There’s no shortage of ways to access those RSS feeds, but part of the problem remains. The huge number of browser tabs has simply been replaced by a single web or desktop application. If you want to stay on top of the news, without it distracting you too much from your work, you should consider moving the notifications to your Mac OS X menu bar.
Use your RSS reader of choice to peruse the news on your own terms, and be notified through your menu bar when a new nugget of news leaves the presses.
Feeds is a nifty RSS menu bar application, showing a little satellite disk that lights up when a new article arrives. The Feeds drop-down menu will show you the source and title, as well as an unread indicator, in a clean interface. Hovering over one of the titles opens a preview pane right then and there. This might be enough to get the gist of some simple articles. If not, clicking the title will open the full article in your browser.
This article is about RSS feeds, and reading them in your Mac OS X menu bar. However, it should be noted that Feeds supports other types of feeds as well, like Basecamp, Beanstalk, Dropmark, Github, Trello and UserVoice—mostly project management tools. Notifications from these accounts work just like the RSS notifications. The only thing that’s different is the favicon shown next to the item in the drop-down menu.
Feeds is not intended to replace your default RSS reader (nor should it). In fact, the application only keeps track of the last 25 items to pass your way. However, it’s a great application to keep track of your feeds with a glance. Feeds feels like a fresh breeze, and its integration with the Mac OS X notification center is just the cherry on top of the pie.
NewsBee [No Longer Available]
NewsBee looks similar to Feeds in some respects, but works a bit differently. NewsBee adds a similar drop-down menu to your Mac OS X menu bar. In contrast, the menu is feed-specific. Intended to reduce clutter and distractions, the menu only shows articles from one feed at the time. Switching to another website takes just a click of the mouse.
Interestingly, you can add multiple feeds to your menu bar at the same time. Each will add its own menu, marked with the website favicon.
By default, NewsBee just shows the article titles. If you want to see more, you’ll have to click through to the full article. Tick marks next to the titles keep track of which links you’ve already visited. However, in the settings you can also enable pop-ups on a site-by-site basis, which allow you to preview the article by hovering over the title.
Moka [No Longer Available]
Moka is a product from the same minds that brought us Cappuccino, a more fully featured RSS reader that was previously covered in the MakeUseOf tagectory. Moka offers a simple interface to your RSS feeds (more specifically, your Google Reader account) in your Mac OS X menu bar with a fresh, yellow look. Like the applications covered above, Moka lets you preview the articles without opening your browser.
Alternatively, click to open the full article, or share it with your friends.
What I like most about Moka is its ability to search or sort through the RSS articles. Rather than a simple chronological list, it’s easier to find articles that pertain to a certain subject, or to get to an article that you read earlier. It’s just as easy to view the articles of only a specific group of feeds, or even to switch between different Google Reader accounts entirely.
How do you keep on top of the news? Tell us about your workflow in the comments below.