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45 Different Services, Sites, and Apps to Help You Read Your Favorite Sites (Like How-To Geek)

Ever wonder how geeks stay connected with their favorite blogs and writers? Read on to learn about RSS feeds and how easy they are to use with these 45 apps, services, and websites that can help you stay current.

Note: Of course, our more geeky readers are going to understand a lot of this already, which is why we included 45 great services that you might not have heard about before. Keep reading for more, or give your advice to the newbies in the comments.

What is RSS, and What is a Feed?

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RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication and is one of the most common ways internet publishers push out new online content. While it is easy enough to simply visit the sites, blogs, and online magazines that publish content you like, it is easier than you might think to put your computer to work fetching content for you. Many websites provide at least one of the most common Syndication feed types; in fact free tools like Blogger or WordPress can create websites that can allow nearly any user to syndicate content with ease.

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RSS files are not particularly complicated… in fact they are easy to code and update by hand, even though they are usually automatically updated by publishing software. Illustrated above is a simple RSS .xml file from Wikipedia. Websites can have multiple RSS feeds, allowing readers to subscribe to various sub categories of content from sites, for instance: subscription by author, tag, category, or in some cases, a simplified “lead story” only subscription hitting only the highlighted stories of the day. In every situation, the feed is essentially a list that will tell a program where to find the content you want. Subscribing is as simple as finding the subscribe button, clicking the RSS icon, or typing a URL. Read on!

Subscribe, and Let Content Come to You

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So how do you subscribe to websites? You’ll need some form of application, either on the web, in a stand-alone application, or an app on your mobile device. Many websites like How-To Geek have an obvious “subscribe” button. But applications also allow for manual entry of RSS feed website addresses.

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If you can’t find a “subscribe” button, you can go to your Feed Reader and simply “Add a Subscription.” Here’s how it looks in Google Reader.

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You can copy and paste a website into the tool, or type the website you’re hoping to subscribe to.

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Incredibly enough, it is no more difficult than that. However, before you can subscribe, you’ll need a program or service to read your subscriptions. How-To Geek has helpfully compiled a list of 45 Services, Sites, and Apps that can help you find, subscribe, control, sort, and read your favorite sites on a daily basis and stay up to date like a true geek.


Web-Based Feed Readers

Some of the best readers are entirely web-based and are tied to accounts with various websites, and not to applications on any one computer. The benefit of this is that you can subscribe on one computer and read your subscriptions on another. If you like to read your favorite webcomics and news at work, you’ll find this invaluable.

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  • Google Reader: Uses your Google account and is one of the best readers available. HTG Author recommended.

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  • iGoogle Gadgets: Allows users to create custom widgets based on latest posts from an RSS feed. If you use iGoogle as your homepage, you may want enjoy decorating it with the most current stories from your favorite sites.

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  • My Yahoo: Useful if you already have a Yahoo mail account you prefer to keep your subscriptions tied into. Customizable with RSS feeds.

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  • My MSN: Similar to My Yahoo, My MSN is for those of us that would like our subscriptions tied into our Windows Live, Hotmail, or MSN Accounts.

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  • Blogger: Blogger dashboard has a built in RSS reading feature, complete with more social features like public following. Integrates into Google Reader.

Email Clients With RSS Feed Features

As an usual bonus feature, many common mail clients have built-in RSS reading features. While most of us could live our whole lives without knowing this, it can be fun to have a selection of websites to read in a program most of us use everyday for work.

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  • Mac Mail: Free mail client bundled with OS X allows simple RSS subscribing.

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  • Outlook 2010: Part of the Microsoft Office suite, with similar RSS subscribing functionality .

Browsers with RSS Feed Features

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  • Firefox: Firefox comes bundled with Live Bookmarks, which are bookmarks that list the most current articles in any site with a feed. A perfectly easy and fine way to use RSS.

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  • Opera: That weird browser nobody seems to use is actually feature rich and packed with goodies, including a full-featured email client and RSS reader.

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  • Internet Explorer: The former scourge of the internet offers built-in RSS subscribing capability.

Browser Extensions for RSS Feeds

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  • RSS Extension For Chrome: In an odd oversight by Google, Chrome does not have out of the box RSS subscribing. This extension (also from Google) remedies this.

Standalone Windows Applications

While they are not cross platform, cloud-based, or a bonus surprise in some other software package, some users will appreciate the features of a dedicated RSS reader. Which one is right for you?

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Social Bookmarking and Link Sharing

Incredibly useful and fun, not only for reading your favorite content, but also for discovering new content you might never have seen! Social Bookmarking is a way of saving your favorite websites, recommending them to friends, and having friends and total strangers recommend them to you.

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  • Stumbleupon: A Firefox and Internet Explorer add-on, with a crude version already working for Google Chrome. Stumbleupon allows users to “channelsurf” the internet with the “Stumble” button. HTG Author recommended.

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  • Digg: Popular link sharing website where users chose to share or bury news, files, images, and links that they enjoy.

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  • Reddit: Similar to Digg, Reddit is spartan in design, but functional, and full of fun and ridiculous content.

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  • Delicious: The bookmarking site in the news recently for potentially being sold by Yahoo. Still functioning, still worth using (for now).

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  • Google Buzz: The controversial and much hyped link sharing service built into gmail.

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  • Pinboard.in: A spartan and functional pay service that allows users to browse their own tag clouds and create PDF versions of their bookmarked sites.

Content-based and Grouped Blog Directories

Directories are category based lists of popular blogs, broken down by broad types, categories or genres. Each of them have their own particular look, and most are usually manually moderated. Because so many of them have moderated submissions, you may find listings unique to each service. Searching directories may be a little old-fashioned, but can be a great way to discover quality sites relevant to your interests.

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Social Networking and Link Sharing

While readers that don’t know about Twitter and Facebook are few and far between, Social Networks are great ways to keep up with the most important or interesting stories from your favorite content providers. Find and follow your favorite writers—many of them share content through Twitter or Facebook, with some content exclusive to that author’s particular feed.

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  • Twitter: Search for your favorite authors, blogs, webpages, or artists. “Following” them on Twitter is similar to using RSS feeds, giving you a stream of content they want to share with you.

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  • Facebook: Serach for your favorite authors, blogs, webpages, or artists. Again, your Facebook feed will operate similar to an RSS feed, allowing you to subscribe to pages by clicking the “Like” button.

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  • Tumblr: A mashup of Social Networking sites like Facebook and simple, web-based blogging platforms like Blogger. Tumblr is a web-based feed reader with sharing, reblogging, and more social functions.

Link and Content Saving, and Offline Reading

Dead simple and easy to use, link and content saving simply store your selected links for your later perusal, either online or off. Great for readers that read on multiple computers.

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  • Instapaper: A ridiculously simple web application that doesn’t even require logging in for use. Download their bookmarklet and use it to simply, easily save interesting web pages to read later.

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  • Evernote: Browser extension and stand alone-application for saving webpages, pictures, and other great content. Allows you to tag your pages, easily search, and find them later.

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  • Yahoo Bookmarks: Simple cloud based bookmarking service for those of us that wish to use our Yahoo accounts.

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  • Google Bookmarks: Simple cloud-based bookmarking service for those of us that wish to use our Google accounts.

Apple iOS Mobile

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  • Reeder: For the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad owner on the go. Subscribe and read feeds and deliver them straight to your Apple device.

Google Android Mobile

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  • gReader: For the Android-based phone owner on the go. Have your favorite websites deliver to you wherever you roam!

Blackberry Mobile

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  • Viigo: For the Blackberry owner on the go. Get new content delivered to your Blackberry for nothing more than a free download!

Other Great Services to Help You Enjoy Your Favorite Content

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  • Google Alerts: Subscribe by email or by RSS feed. Put Google’s searches to work, scouring the internet for phrases you want to read about, like “Net Neutrality,” or “Hadron Collider,” and watch it bring you new articles featuring those keywords.

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  • Marklets: Bookmarklets are bookmarks that run bits of Javascript code. Search Marklets.com for bookmarklets that integrate with Google Reader, Delicious, Stumbleupon, and a host of others.

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Whew! That’s a lot of information to dig through. Have fun with your new found knowledge of RSS, and whatever new ways you might have discovered to keep current on all your favorite online media.

Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Graphics Geek who hopes to make Photoshop more accessible to How-To Geek readers. When he’s not headbanging to heavy metal or geeking out over manga, he’s often off screen printing T-Shirts.

  • Published 01/12/11

Comments (22)

  1. David Levine

    Read It Later is a great alternative to Instapaper. I prefer it because it allows tagging rather than having to put things in folders like Instapaper. Also, I think the iOS apps for Read It Later provide great features and are currently undergoing many updates.

  2. Matthew Darling

    Lifehacker recently made a post about how Instapaper can send articles to your Kindle – if you use Read It Later, the (quite good, in my opinion) library management program Calibre, you can follow these instructions: http://readitlaterlist.com/blog/2010/02/read-your-list-on-your-kindleebook-reader-with-calibre/

  3. john topa

    Feedly is a great Chrome & Firefox extension that uses Google reader & transforms your feeds to look like an online magazine. It makes reading feeds easier & is visually entertaining. http://www.feedly.com/home#my/welcome

  4. rizalp

    I highly recommend Feedly. It add more functionality and better Interface for easy access into your feed in Google Reader. Go ahead and try Feedly. Works on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox

  5. Manjusha

    “That weird browser nobody seems to use “..I have been using opera for years and now with extension support..i feel its the best browser i ever used !!…It has a superb RSS management system, mail client and unite applications….even tab stacking and tab preview…opera turbo..panels..speed dial..and a very easy tool to magnify or disable images from loading !!!!..and that all on just a clean install!!…how many of your *famous* browsers can achieve this????..its no way weird…its the browser for the uber-cool geek !!!!!

  6. Eric Z Goodnight

    Don’t get me wrong… I love Opera. That’s why I call it “feature rich.” This is just a common perception about Opera, I think.

  7. George Macfleur

    When I tried a news reader, I got inundated, so for me, I switched to dailyrotation.com as my home page, where I have How-to Geek and other favourite RSS feeds. It is another option to add to the list.

  8. Manjusha

    @ Eric Z Goodnight..yeah may be!!..but i think the “common perception has changed slightly :D..and yeah i forgot to mention Opera link..opera Unite and opera widgets ;)

  9. Martik

    OMG, this is a huge list. Can I post this in my blog?

  10. arsaber

    But what’s the use of a RSS feed reader when more and more naughty sites publish only truncated feed (and the naughty but tongue-in-the-cheek ones with a huge and funny button “CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE…”) ?

  11. José Costa

    Using GreatNews for several years. Very fast, simple and reliable.Ocasionaly I use RSSOwl beacause one can put folders inside folders but it is not as fast as GreatNews.

  12. Not an Opera Fanboy, just a stupid-user hater

    Eric I think your comment its cos I post a pair of them blaming against the article’s editor.

    Okay I probably got wrong about being rude and so, so first of all sorry for the bad language, and also sorry for getting a wrong “thinking” about that part of the article. I’m somehow sorry :/

    Okay then my constuctive comment:

    RSS, are amazing, i have tried a lot of ways to read’em but no one actually convinces me, except the last one, at this time, the list:

    1. Opera, I thought this was the best option at once, but as managing mails, if you collect a lot Opera get slowed down on shutdown and startup.
    2. Netvibes, this was fine as start page, but i don’t like to much “iGoogle type” pages, and Netvibes is one of em.
    Then also tried Firefox, so simple and awful, (sorry for Firefox fanboys, it sahll need and ext for doing it like Opera :o), Feed Demon (3, im not sure), just i often get a lot of software on my PC then i dont even use, Thunderbird, Im giving it a try for mail, so feeds are coming in it sooner, iGoogle, (awful), and finally im using:
    N. Googel Reader: why? its easy, my PC wont have to manage the content space so less HD space used, faster and nice to organise Feeds, its what im using rigth now :)

    Thx for the HOLE article, sorry for being rude :/

  13. rusty

    I didn’t see podcasts mentioned. Any of these useful for subscribing to podcast feeds?
    Juice is far too buggy.

  14. Not an Opera Fanboy, just a stupid-user hater

    For podcast I use DoubleTwist, I hate iTunes too :)

  15. Jedijax

    Google Reader+Firefox+Better Greader, Image Zoom and Coolpreviews mozilla add-ons= The best RSS reading experience I’ve had. The only other thing I like (and is not as good as the previously mentioned config) was the Feedsquares Google Chrome add-on. A Firefox port would be superb!

  16. Rick

    I did not see the one I have used for years. Daily Rotation gives you the ability to tailor your information needs by letting you choose from hundreds of sites and feeds and then giving you just what you wantto see. Change your mind, special projects, new interest — just change the list and you are reading what you want to read. I love this site and highly suggest that all look at it. It was how I found this article in the first place.

  17. joe_Da_Schmoe

    http://www.springpadit.com was left out as well plus many more…

  18. Ja5087

    RSS extension for chrome points to the ie9 page

  19. Eric Z Goodnight

    @Ja5087: Fixed.

  20. John Burman

    I do not know where http://www.symbaloo.com would fit in here, I use both IE-9 and Google from my http://www.sandboxie.com virus sheild.and then open symbaloo to access everything that the web offers without problems. I love it!

  21. HANKY

    @George McFluer…DAILYROTATION is great!

  22. Gabriel

    google reader in a pinned tab seems to be the best for me

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