The feature in Safari 5 that's caught the web's attention is its Reader button, which strips down articles and blog posts into an ad-free, highly readable format. Two add-ons for Firefox and Chrome do a good job of recreating that feature.
If you missed our round-up of what's new in Safari 5, the short explanation of Reader is that, while many bookmarklets have come along to offer a simplified, less-cluttered reading experience, Safari is the first major browser to go ahead and offer that kind of feature by default, as an address bar button. If you're a fan of bookmarklets, and your bookmarks aren't too cluttered to lose them in, we recommend the tools from arc90's Readability, the Instapaper Text bookmarklet, and the Readable app for highly customised formatting.
But maybe you want your Firefox or Chrome rig to offer that kind of button-click functionality. You're in luck. First off, here's the Top 10 feature we'll try our reading tools out on—click the image for a larger view:
Now here are two add-ons for Firefox and Chrome, and a look at how they do at getting all minimalist with the text and pics. Click any of the images below, too, for a larger view
Baris Derin rolled the Readability bookmarklet into a full-fledged add-on for Firefox, but also added in a pretty neat auto-scrolling feature for the true lean-back-and-read experience. Readability tends to keep more of the text and formatting in and around the page, but strips out all the marketing and navigation material. It places an "R" button in the lower-right status area of Firefox, which isn't the most convenient spot for our use, but some may prefer having it hidden away until needed.
Mhd Hejazi's iReader is directly inspired by Safari's Reader function, offering the same kind of pop-out white box that darkens the rest of the page, a button right in the address bar, and very, very minimal decoration—as you can see, it pared down our Top 10 feature quite a bit. There are also keyboard shortcuts for Windows and Mac to activate iReader, and options to change the background opacity, font and formatting, and add a "Send with Gmail" link to your articles. Neat stuff.
Both add-ons are free downloads. Know of another reading/simplifying extension that gets the job done? Tell us about it in the comments. Thanks to emmikkelsen for the inspiration!
Readability [Add-ons for Firefox]
iReader [Google Chrome extension gallery]