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As we’re constantly on the hunt for the perfect RSS reader, since Google Reader’s demise, a lot of decent alternatives have come up. Whether it’s turning to Feedly (which is pretty popular for many reasons), Digg Reader (which we’ve reviewed here) or even re-purposing Evernote — there’s really no end to interesting and compelling alternatives.
One interesting alternative to Google Reader can actually be found right within Google’s own services — one that you know won’t be going anywhere: Gmail. With a few easy steps, you can turn part of your inbox into an RSS reader, accessible on your desktop computer, mobile phone, or just about anywhere you can access your Gmail account.
What You’ll Need
In order to get your RSS feeds sent straight to your Gmail account, you’ll need to still use Feedly. This might seem counterintuitive, but Feedly is simply a tool that you’re using as a means of getting the content into your Gmail account. This way, you can check email and see the latest posts from your favorite sites, all in one place. In addition to Feedly, you’ll also need to use IFTTT, since this will be automatically sending your Feedly updates straight to your Gmail account.
If you are new to IFTTT, take the help of our free guide on IFTTT.
Set Up Feedly
The first thing you’ll need to do is head over to Feedly and create just one category. With this system, it’s far easier to place all of your feeds in one category, which will then be featured under one label in your Gmail account. With a few extra steps however, you can simply create a label for each category. This will, of course, be a time-consuming step if you have a lot of categories in Feedly.
If you’re using Feedly for the first time, when you go to add a new site, you can create your category at the same time:
If you’ve already set up your Feedly account, to create a new category in Feedly, click on ‘Organize,’ and you can create a new category.
Subscribe to all of your RSS feeds in that one category and you’ll be good to go. If you already have your feeds plugged into the RSS reader of your choice, you should be able to export them as an OPML file and import them into Feedly. If you’re already using Feedly, you can simply drag and drop the feeds you want (if there aren’t too many of them). If you’ve got a ton of feeds, we’d recommend creating a new Feedly account for this purpose.
To import and export feeds from Feedly, you can do so also from the ‘Organize tab’ — click on Save as OPML to export the file, and Import OPML to get your feeds into your newly created Feedly account.
Create a Gmail Label and Filter
If you’re placing all of your feeds in one category, you’ll only need one label and filter. If you’re using multiple categories, you’re going to have to repeat this step for each category. First create your label in Gmail. Under Settings, go to ‘Labels,’ and click ‘Create new label:’
Next, you need to create a filter that will let Gmail know that any new emails that have a certain criteria, will have your label attached to it.
Again, click on Settings, and this time head over to the Filters tab. Create the following filter:
In the next step, select the label that you created for this purpose. If you don’t want to flood your inbox, you should also select, “Skip Inbox (Archive it).”
Set up IFTTT
Now that you’ve got all of your feeds under one category (or more) in Feedly, and your Gmail account ready to receive those feeds, you can head over to IFFFT to create your trigger.
The recipe you’ll need is very simple, just make sure that you’ve signed up for IFTTT using the same Gmail address you plan to use as your RSS reader.
For your trigger channel, choose Feedly, and select ‘New article from category’
Choose your category and create the trigger. Next, you’ll have to create the step that sends the email. Click on ‘Email’ and choose, ‘Send me an email.’ Now in order for the Gmail filter to work, you have to adjust the subject line, adding the word ‘Feed:’ to the beginning. That way you know it will end up labeled in your Gmail account.
The Final Product
So how is it going to look once you’re done? This is what it looks like in your Gmail account on a desktop computer:
And on your mobile phone:
Opening up individual articles will show you the first paragraph of the article or the blog post, and you can click on the link to read more.
Why Do This?
If you’re still asking, why bother doing all of this when you can simply use Feedly? There are a few advantages to using Gmail rather than an RSS reader.
You know Google won’t be doing away with Gmail, one of its core services. That way, you know you won’t be faced with the same problem when Google Reader was shutdown, as people frantically looked for alternatives.
Another advantage is keeping all your content archived in one place. Gmail’s powerful search is always there for picking the needles from the haystack. Also, you can mark individual feeds as read or unread, and it remains perfectly synchronized across all devices.
There are all sorts of creative to use Gmail, so why not add your RSS feeds into the mix, making it easy to check out all of your latest emails, articles and more, in one place.
What do you think of using Gmail as your RSS reader? Let us know in the comments.