How to Use Your Browser’s ‘Reader Mode’ to Actually Read What You Click

How to Use Your Browser’s ‘Reader Mode’ to Actually Read What You Click
Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Most of the time, you’re probably skimming the web instead of actually reading it. And that’s ok for quick news updates and browsing social media. But when you’ve opened up a long article that you actually want to read, things start to get difficult.

You find your mind wandering, and paying attention to the same page gets harder and harder. Yes, you can save the article to read later in Pocket, but we all know that’s where your reading list goes to die. The endless stimulation of the internet has killed your ability to focus — so what to do?

Don’t worry, the “reader” mode in your browsers will give you a fighting chance. These special modes are designed to make the web easier to read. They remove a given website’s formatting, empty space, ads, and all other extra elements to help you concentrate on the text, and some images.

Even better, you can customise the text to make your experience as welcoming as possible, so you are that much less likely to click away. Here’s how to use the reader mode in your favourite browser (except for Chrome — but we’ll get to that).

How to use Safari Reader mode

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Safari is the king of the reader mode. Not only is the built-in reader mode beautiful, but there’s also an option to automatically load all articles in the “Reader View” by default (although that might be a bit too much for most users).

When you’re browsing the web and you come across a long article you want to read, just press the Reader View button (which looks like a page icon) in the URL bar on Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Instantly, the page will be transformed into its far less busy cousin. Press the “Aa” button to the right of the URL to customise the formatting.

How to use Firefox Reader View

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Firefox also does a really good job with Reader View (and no, you don’t need to use Pocket for this).

Just click the Reader View icon (looks like a sheet of paper with lines of text on it) in the URL bar within the desktop or mobile apps (yes, it works in the iPhone, iPad, and Android apps, too) to quickly convert the entire page into the reader-friendly version. Once again, you can use the “Aa” button in the left-hand menu to customise the font and the background.

How to use Immersive Reader in Microsoft Edge

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

While Microsoft Edge’s reader mode is restricted to the desktop app, it does a really good job. When you come across an article that you want to read without distractions, click the Immersive Reader icon (it looks like an open book) in the URL bar.

To customise the text, click the “Text Preferences” option. Edge has a pretty neat trick up its sleeve here — you can use the “Read Aloud” feature to have the entire article read aloud to you using natural sounding voices (you can even choose a different voice if you want to).

Or try the Reader Mode extension on Chrome

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Chrome is the only major browser that doesn’t have a dedicated reader mode. But don’t worry, you can get the same experience using the Reader Mode extension.

The Reader Mode extension will provide you with a simple, customisable, distraction-free reading environment. You can spring for the Pro version ($US15 ($20) one-time licence fee) to add highlights, notes, custom CSS, pro fonts, and more. There’s even a Premium option ($US4.99 ($7)/month) that adds cloud storage, read-it-later features, and other goodies.

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