NOTE: This App Directory entry has been updated. Click here for the most recent version. Reading a lot of blogs can be tough to manage without an RSS news reader, which consolidates everything you read in one place. While there are plenty of the options for news readers on the Mac, NetNewsWire is our clear winner thanks to its Google Reader sync support, fast operation, great stability and $0 price tag.
Platform: Mac OS X Price: Free Download Page
- Syncs with Google Reader
- Many, many different ways to customise the layout of the interface
- Built-in web browser with side tabs
- Post articles directly to Instapaper, Delicious or your blog
- Sort feeds by folders and subfolders
- Download files attached to articles in your feeds and automatically add any compatible media files to iTunes
- Get statistic-based reports about your feeds
- Create dynamically updating smart lists out of your feeds
- Control virtually anything in the app via the keyboard
- Scriptable via AppleScript
- Tons of sorting options
NetNewsWire reliably syncs your feeds with Google Reader. In addition to being reliable it's also really fast. It's very easy to organise your feeds in folders and through using dynamically updating smart lists. If you want to read an article on the actual web page where it originated, NetNewsWire has an excellent built-in web browser with tab support so you never have to leave the application if you don't want to. If you'd rather work with your default web browser, NetNewsWire respects your preferences. You can have it bring the web browser to the front as soon as you click a link or just leave it in the background until you're ready. This isn't a very noteworthy feature, but it's one example of many little touches that make NetNewsWire a pleasure to use. While there is definitely rising competition in the wings, it really is currently the best news reader on the Mac.
Often times it feels a little out of date. Despite seeing an update to move from NewsGator to Google Reader (because Google bought NewsGator), NetNewsWire hasn't really seen much of a feature upgrade in a while. While it's pretty comprehensive for a feed-reading app, some of its existing features feel a little out of date. For example, you can post to Instapaper but not to ReadItLater. You can post an article to your blog but not to Tumblr or Facebook or any of the newer services you'd probably want to use to share. While this isn't a huge problem, it quickly reveals NetNewsWire's age — and that's its biggest drawback.
NetNewsWire wins out here because it's a strong app with years of experience, but Reeder has the potential to surpass it once it leaves beta status. You can currently try the Reeder beta for free, but it isn't feature complete nor perfect. Nonetheless, it's in pretty good shape right now, has built-in Readability support (which is awesome), and shows clear signs of being the best news reader on the Mac when it's officially released. That said, with some vital features still absent, it's a usable but still unfinished app that can't win out against something as solid as NetNewsWire.
Times was once an interesting RSS news reader option as it turned your feeds into a traditional newspaper. Currently it is in the process of being reborn as Pulp, but it isn't available yet and there seem to be no signs of the old version. That said, when it's re-released it'll be a good option for people willing to pay for a different kind of format.
Gruml is another free RSS news reader much like NetNewsWire, but in my few months of use I found it wasn't quite as stable. On the positive side, it does have greater support for external services (like ReadItLater). It may have features that are important to you, and if so it may be worth trying, but despite being a pretty solid app it just doesn't measure up when you're actually using it.
There are a lot of other news readers for Mac but these three offer the most notable, worthwhile differences. If you have a favourite that was pass over or overlooked, please mention it in the comments.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories. This week, we're focusing on news readers.