Updated on April 9, 2023
RSS readers still exist as a way to keep up with the news. (Especially given, as of this writing, Twitter’s chaotic state.) While Google Reader’s demise years ago has led many to write off RSS feeds, they’re still a basic part of Web infrastructure, and included with most sites by default. Even with Google Reader gone, other readers still exist. Below, I look at a few of my favorite RSS readers.
Advantages of RSS feeds and readers
Back in 2018 I wrote about the advantages of RSS. To summarize:
- No algorithms or “fake news.” You’ll always get a chronological feed of all posts from a site, and you can subscribe to reputable sources (versus Fox News or Breitbart).
- RSS is a non-proprietary, open standard. This means, like email or HTML, anyone can use it, and it can’t be bought out or eliminated by questionable wealthy interests (or “spring cleaned” in Google Reader’s case). It’s also not locked to a specific platform, unlike Apple News.
- Cross-platform support. RSS works on everything, so it doesn’t matter what device or operating system you use. For instance, podcasts traditionally are just RSS feeds to an MP3 file, so podcast players can run on anything. Contrast that to closed platforms like Spotify, which don’t allow adding podcasts they don’t carry.
- User control. Users have full control over what sites they follow.
Favorite RSS readers
Update: A previous version of this post recommended Feedly. However, recently they’ve made some questionable decisions, including advertising an AI service as a way for companies to track protesters or striking workers. As of this writing, Feedly took down its blog post advertising the service after facing backlash; a screenshot’s available here. Thus, I’ve removed it from my recommendations list.
NetNewsWire (MacOS, iOS)
NetNewsWire is my recommended RSS reader for Apple device users. It takes full advantage of MacOS/iOS features, is easy to use, free, and is open source based. It’s also the reader I use on my devices.
One useful feature for iCloud users is the ability to sync between Apple devices. With it, I can switch between my iPhone and Mac easily.
NetNewsWire also offers the ability to import Feedly accounts into it, which is useful if you’re switching services.
Again, the only downside is NetNewsWire is limited to Apple devices. Android or Windows users will want to look into another RSS reader instead.
Reeder is a paid RSS reader that’s well designed. Like NetNewsWire, it offers a large number of features, including iCloud syncing, support for third-party RSS services, and more.
Reeder costs $10 for the Mac version, or $5 for the iOS version. It’s also Mac/iOS-only. Still, if you’re an Apple device user who wants to buy a reader (instead of using a free option or paying for a subscription), Reeder is probably your best choice.
Liferea is an easy-to-use RSS reader. Like NetNewsWire, it’s open source and free, and offers plenty of features. It can even play podcasts if you want, though I’d go with a music player or standalone podcast program for that.
The only major drawback of Liferea is it’s limited to Linux desktop environments. If you want a reader you can also use on a mobile device (or computers running Windows or MacOS), you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Other RSS readers (cross-platform)
Below are readers I haven’t personally tried, but still seemed popular enough they were worth mentioning.
- NewsBlur (https://newsblur.com/). A web-based reader with iOS/Android apps. Comes with a free and paid tier. The free tier has a 64 feed limit, while the paid tier starts at $36/year annually (for 1,000 feeds).
- Tiny Tiny RSS (https://tt-rss.org/). A self-hosted, open-source reader option that works with your web browser.
- Inoreader (https://www.inoreader.com/). A web-based RSS reader with iOS/Android apps. Like NewsBlur, Inoreader offers free and paid tiers; the free tier is ad-based and allows up to 150 feeds.
Alternative to RSS readers: Google News, Apple News
Google News: https://news.google.com/
Apple News: https://www.apple.com/apple-news/
One possible RSS reader alternative is using the built-in news apps on your mobile (and in Apple’s case, desktop) devices. Google News and Apple News both offer a variety of news sources, and can be a way of staying on top of events.
However, Google News and Apple News have drawbacks. You can’t add sites that the apps don’t carry. In Apple’s case, some features are also only available for paying subscribers; similarly, Google News might turn up articles that are behind a paywall. Finally, Apple’s service is pretty much limited to Apple devices, though Google News is available via a web browser.
Still, if you feel setting up a reader is too much work, and you’re only following a few mainstream news sources, Google News or Apple News might work fine.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
2 thoughts on “Recommended RSS readers”
Thanks for this! You reminded me I’ve been meaning to try NetNewsWire for a while.