Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are The Best Alternatives

Google is closing Google Reader’s doors on July 1, which means you’ll need to find a new way to get your news fix. Here are the services you should check out, and how to export all your feeds and put them into a new reader.

Picture: MARSIL/Shutterstock, sspopov/Shutterstock

Step 1: Export Your Google Reader Data

Before you do anything else, you should save all your Google Reader subscriptions now. According to Google, you won’t be able to to this after Reader shuts down, so do it now while you still can!

  1. Head to Google Takeout’s Reader page and click the Create Archive button. It will start building a file with all your feeds, the people you follow, starred items and more (although you won’t be able to import most of these to other sites).
  2. Once it’s finished building, click the Download button that appears to get your subscriptions.
  3. Open up the ZIP file you just downloaded and go through the folders inside. Inside the “Reader” folder, you should see a file called subscriptions.xml. Extract that to your desktop. This is the file that contains all your subscribed feeds.

Save this file in a safe place while you hunt for a new RSS reader, since you may need it more than once!

Step 2: Find a New RSS Reader

Google Reader uses a tool called RSS to subscribe to websites. While Google Reader has been the dominant choice, there are lots of other RSS readers out there. After the shutdown announcement, a bunch of awesome readers have come out of the woodwork and improved their offerings, both by adding new features and (in many cases) by removing their own reliance on the Google Reader backend, so there’s something for just about everyone. Here are some of our favourites.

For the App Lovers: Feedly

Feedly (iOS/Android/Web) is by far the most popular Google Reader alternative, and with good reason. It has a clean, beautiful interface that you can tweak to work almost exactly like Google Reader. It also lets you choose been a newspaper-like interface or an image-centric view.

Feedly has been adding new features like crazy since Google Reader’s death announcement, including a new syncing service (that syncs with popular apps like Reeder and gReader), an extension-free web app, and recommendations and keyboard shortcuts. If you want to use the service that everyone else will be using — and that will sync with the most apps — Feedly is the service you want.

For the Desktop Reader Enthusiast: NewsBlur

NewsBlur (iOS/Android/Web) is a web-based feed reader that looks and feels a bit more like a desktop reader. You can see stories on the original site, create categories and tags that help highlight the stories you want most, and even create a “Blurblog” of all your favourite stories for others to read. NewsBlur is free for up to 64 sites, but you can pay $US24 a year for a premium account that gets you unlimited sites and more frequent updates. If you’re worried about another free service shutting down like Reader did, ponying up a bit of cash could get you a bit of extra security in NewsBlur.

For the Social: The Old Reader

The Old Reader (Web) was built when Google Reader originally shut down its social features. It aims to be what Google Reader used to be: a simple, web-based RSS reader with lots of great sharing features. Its interface should look very familiar, so if you’re a Google Reader purist — especially when it comes to the pre-Google+ Reader — The Old Reader might be for you.

For What the Crowd Is Reading: Digg Reader

Digg Reader (Web/Android) isn’t available just yet, but social news site Digg has been working on a much-anticipated RSS reader for a while. Like Feedly, Digg’s reader takes the familiar Google Reader interface and cleans it up a bit, with added features like Instapaper sharing, Digg integration (duh), and a “Popular” filter that shows you which articles in your feeds are trending right now. It’s still in the very early stages, but it looks pretty solid.

For the Minimalist: Newsvibe

Newsvibe (Web) is for those tired of RSS readers that try to do it all. If all you want is a simple, clean way to read your favourite sites — without all the social features, app integration and other clutter — Newsvibe is a fast, free and sparse alternative.

For the Visual Reader: Pulse

Pulse (iOS/Android/Web) takes a different approach to RSS reading. Instead of trying to imitate Google Reader or follow the traditional RSS paradigm, Pulse turns your feeds and articles into a visual, image-driven feed, and pushes the stories it thinks you’ll like to the top. If you’re a bit more visual, Pulse may be just your speed.

For the Do-It-Yourself Folks: Tiny Tiny RSS

Tiny Tiny RSS (Android, Web) is slightly different from the above options. Instead of signing up for a service and depending on them to sync your feeds, you install Tiny Tiny RSS on your own web server or hosting service. You then have your own syncing RSS reader that runs on your terms, and won’t get shut down because some company has deemed it unprofitable. It takes a bit of work to set up, but once you get it going, it works well — and has its own Android app too. If you don’t want the Google Reader heartbreak to happen to you again, Tiny Tiny RSS will make you happy.

For Everyone Else

These are far from the only readers out there, but they’re the most popular ones and the ones we’d recommend checking out first. Of course, if you want something different, there’s likely to be something that’ll satisfy you. iGoogle fans will love NetVibes. Skimmers should check out Skimr, and picky readers can filter content with Curata. AOL even has a stylish new RSS reader. Desktop users can try something like FeedDemon, Reeder, or even Outlook. Whatever your needs, you’re sure to find something out there that works for you.

Still haven’t found something you like? Check out this huge list of Google Reader alternatives.

Step 3: Import Your Google Reader Feeds

When you’ve found a reader you want to try out, sign up for an account and import your feeds. This will vary from service to service — a few, like Feedly, might just let you sign in with your Google account to transfer your subscriptions. For most of the others, however, you’ll need to do something like this:

  1. Open up your new feed reader of choice and head into its settings.
  2. Find the Import option. This will be in a different spot for every reader, but most should have an option to import feeds using an “OPML” file — this is the file you downloaded from Google Reader earlier.
  3. Select the import option, and choose the subscriptions.xml you extracted from Google Takeout. All of your feeds should appear in your new reader.

This won’t import your starred items or know which articles you’ve already read on Google Reader, but at least you’ll still have all your subscriptions. Try out that reader for a few days. If you don’t like it, sign up for a different one and re-import your feeds. As long as you keep that subscriptions.xml file saved in a safe place, you should be able to try as many readers as you want, even after Google Reader shuts down.

You still have one week to figure out which RSS reader you want to move to, so by the time Google Reader shuts down, you should be ready to keep reading news without skipping a beat. In the meantime, join us in the comments below and share your favourite non-Google RSS reader.

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