Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are The Best Alternatives

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.


  • Thanks!

    I tried Feedly early on, but relying on an Chrome app just didn’t make sense to me. Something doesn’t feel right about it.

    So I went back to Google Reader and continued to push my luck until today. I’ve installed TT-RSS on my web server and I’m pretty confident that I’ve found an alternative.

    I’m still curious as to what others are doing instead of RSS, though. If it wasn’t for your posts reminding us about that July 1 date, I would think I was just about the only person using Google Reader!

  • I’ve just made the transition to The Old Reader, as it seems to match my reading style the best. It’s a surprisingly feature-filled product that just stays out of my way and lets me read.

    Of the contenders:
    -Feedly was discounted because of the need to install browser extensions. I’m still not sure why they’re necessary.
    -TT-RSS is great. I can’t give any particularly good reasons for not trying it, except that I left the move quite late and I probably wont get time to install/configure it before then.
    -Newsvibe looks attractive and simple, but doesn’t have a demo interface online. I don’t like to sign up just to see if a website works.

    There’s a lot of good competition, and one key reason I went with The Old Reader is that it lets me export my feeds if I decide to jump ship (unlike feedly at present)

  • I’ve been using netvibes in reader mode. It works pretty well. Still going to miss Google Reader. I’m going to try out Diggs alternative when it arrives see if its any better than Netvibes

  • Much appreciation for the guide. I’ve been procrastinating hoping that it was a hoax but no, google is being evil to me.

    Although I have to say, after playing around for half an hour or so I’m starting to prefer feedly to google reader.

  • Checkout SwarmIQ. Similar functionality.
    Features: The ability to skim large #s of headlines, organize lots
    of feeds, label them, tag articles for later reading, fast unobtrusive
    “no magazine layout”.

    Sign up at , click on the Google reader icon to get all your feeds, and get up and running straight away.

    Disclosure: I’m on the team that built this site 🙂 Also, we don’t have “Google Alerts” type functionality yet.

  • Great roundup – these are all wonderful replacement options! You could also try FlowReader: It’s a reader for your RSS feeds and the newsfeeds from your Facebook and Twitter. (Disclaimer: I’m from the FlowReader team). We have an easy one-click importer that will import your feeds from Google Reader and preserve your categories. You can also post directly to your social media accounts from within the application.

    We just recently launched, so we’re working out a few things, but if you haven’t found your replacement yet – it’s worth checking out. Either way, good luck to everyone! I know it’s a tough choice 🙂

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