90 Miles From Tyranny : Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives

Friday, March 15, 2013

Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives

Whitson Gordon

Google announced today that it'll be closing Google Reader's doors on July 1st of this year, meaning you'll need to find a new way to get your news fix. Here's how to export all your feeds and put them into a new reader.
Step One: Find a New RSS Reader

RSS is the mechanism by which Google Reader subscribes to web sites, and lets you know which articles you've read. Luckily, it's far from the only RSS reader out there, so chances are you shouldn't have too much trouble finding one you like. In general, they fall into two categories. Here are your options.
Option One: Cloud-Based News Readers

Full sizeIf you read your RSS feeds in more than one place (that is, if you want to read them at home, at work, or on different devices), you'll want to try a web-based RSS reader, similar to what Google Reader is now. NetVibes (pictured above) is one of the most popular web reader, offering a Google Reader-like interface as well as a snazzy iGoogle-like homepage.

NewsBlur is also a great option, with an interface that's very similar to Google Reader (and arguably a little more polished). You create an account with them, subscribe to your favorite sites, and can read them on any computer. They even have Android and iOS apps that'll sync your feeds, too. Update: It looks like NewsBlur has suspended free accounts for the time being, likely because of the influx of new users. Either way, it's one to keep an eye on.

Feedly is popular, but definitely different than Google Reader. Its interface is less traditional and a bit more "newspaper-like," but it's very pretty. You can, however, get a more traditional Reader-like interface if you prefer. You need to download a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox to use it, but you'll be able to sync your feeds between browsers and even to Feedly's mobile apps. Update: Feedly has also said that they'll have a "seamless" transition method in place when Reader goes down.

Update: A lot of you have mentioned The Old Reader as a great alternative, and it is! In fact, its design is based of Google Reader's before the recent redesign, so it's a fantastic option to check out if you're looking for something familiar.
Option Two: Desktop-Based News Readers

Full sizeYour other option is to go with a desktop app. Desktop readers often offer many more features than their web-based counterparts, but with one big downside: all desktop apps currently sync with Google Reader. That means, unless the developers get it syncing with a different service, you'll only be able to read your feeds on the machine you used to subscribe to them. Of course, Google Reader doesn't shut down until July, so there's enough time that we could actually see that happen.

For Windows, we really like FeedDemon (pictured above) for its high level of customizability. (Update: with Google Reader's demise, FeedDemon's developer has announced FeedDemon's death as well). Check out our App Directory entry to read more about it and get some alternatives. Mac users should check out the beautiful, feature-packed Reeder and its alternatives. If you do most of your reading on your phone or tablet, you might try some of theAndroid- or iOS-based feed readers as well.
Step Two: Import Your Google Reader Feeds

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Once you've found a new RSS reader, you should import your Google Reader feeds so you don't have to re-subscribe to everything. Luckily, migrating your feeds from Google Reader is very simple. Here's what you need to do:
Head to Google Takeout's Reader page and click the Create Archive button. It'll start building a file with all your feeds, the people you follow, starred items, and more (though most of these won't be importable to other sites).
Once it's finished building, click the Download button that appears to get your subscriptions.
Open up the ZIP file you just downloaded and go through the folders inside. Inside theReader folder, you should see a file called subscriptions.xml. Extract that to your desktop.
Open up your new feed reader of choice, head into its settings, and find the Import option. Select it, and choose the subscriptions.xml file you just extracted. 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. Alternatively, you can download a desktop reader that syncs with Reader—our favorite ones for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOSall do—let it sync, and then turn off Google Reader syncing once it's done. That way, you should at least be able to pick up where you left off.

You've still got until July to figure out which RSS reader you want to move to, so try a few different services out and see what you like. Hopefully, by the time July rolls around, some of the desktop apps might even have other options for syncing to the cloud. In the meantime, join us in the discussions below and share your favorite non-Google RSS reader.

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