The Best Free RSS Readers for Keeping Up With Your Favorite Websites

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RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary.” It’s a document specification that allows you to easily collect and organize web-based news and information from websites. RSS reader applications allow you to follow your favorite websites without having to visit each one separately.

For more information about RSS, see our article defining RSS and describing how you can benefit from using it.

We’ve collected some links to good desktop and web-based, free RSS applications.

Google Reader

Google Reader is a web-based RSS reader that allows you to easily stay up to date with your favorite websites, as well as share interesting items with friends and family. It’s free to use and works in most modern browsers.

There is also a desktop client for Google Reader that installs on your local machine and allows you to read, mark as read, and star items.

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FeedDemon

FeedDemon is a very popular RSS reader for Windows, that allows you to easily stay up-to-date with the latest news and information from your favorite websites. It synchronizes with Google Reader so you can sync your information among various locations. Use keywords to tag items, marking them as read. FeedDemon will also notify you when your keywords appear in any feed to which you are subscribed or even feeds to which you are not subscribed. You can also subscribe to secure feeds that require a username and password.

FeedDemon also allows you to automatically download podcasts and transfer them to a media device.

For more information about FeedDemon, see our article.

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Feedreader

Feedreader is a simple RSS reader that supports all mainstream feed formats on market today and allows you to easily subscribe to a large number of feeds, automatically downloading the updates. It has an option to open links within feeds in an external browser. Use keywords to filter your feeds and find information relevant to you. You can also combine multiple information streams into a single feed for better readability, as well as organize your feeds using nested folders.

Feedreader can also learn how often each feed updates and dynamically trigger each feed to update only when needed. It can also automatically download enclosures and podcasts attached to articles.

Feedreader is also available as an online reader, as well as in a portable version.

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RSSOwl

RSSOwl is a free, platform-independent RSS reader that allows you to gather, update, store, and organize information from your favorite websites that support RSS. You can save selected information in various formats for offline viewing and sharing. RSSOwl allows you to synchronize your RSS subscriptions and articles with your Google Reader account.

News feeds can be viewed side-by-side using multiple tabs, and you can open as many tabs as you like. The internal browser allows you to open the full content of an article from a feed.

Easily organize your feeds by grouping them by based on a specific attribute, such as by date, author, category, feed, and more.

RSSOwl runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X and supports many languages.

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GreatNews

GreatNews is a fast, free RSS reader that supports full page reading, so you can quickly scan through articles. You have full control over how many articles are displayed at once.

You can avoid flashing ads and banners using the built-in display styles, providing for a clean and simple layout for reading.

Use labels to organize your articles, so you can view all items with the same label at once as if they were listed in the same folder. Labels also allow you to retrieve articles later with a single click. GreatNews also stores all your favorite articles locally, so you can view them when a site is down or being updated.

You can import and export all your subscriptions quickly and easily. You can also find relevant information easily using the full text search with keyword highlights.

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Omea Reader

Omea Reader is a free, easy to use RSS reader that allows you to read RSS feeds, Atom feeds, as well as newsgroups and bookmarked webpages. It’s also easy to keep your RSS feeds organized and categorized. Use Omea Reader’s custom views to separate your feeds based on certain characteristics and create custom workspaces to divide your feeds into different categories, such as work information and personal information.

With the browser integration, quickly and easily subscribe to feeds directly from within your browser. Omea Reader will find the feed for you on a website, even if you can’t find the RSS link.

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Liferea

Liferea (Linux Feed Reader) is a free RSS reader for Linux that allows you to synchronize your feeds with your Google Reader account. You can also read articles when offline and permanently save headlines in news bins.

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Feedly

Feedly is a free RSS reader available as an extension or add-on for all major browsers, and as a mobile application (iPhone, iPad, Android, and Kindle), allowing you to always stay in sync with your favorite websites wherever you are. If you find an article on one device you want to save for reading later on another device, you can easily save it.

Feedly also synchronizes with all your existing subscriptions and categories in your Google Reader account.

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Feed Notifier

Feed Notifier is a free, configurable application for Windows and Mac OS X that runs in the system tray and focuses on displaying popup notifications when new items are downloaded for subscribed RSS or Atom feeds. You can navigate among the new items using the controls in the popups. Feed Notifier deactivates when your computer is idle to save bandwidth.

Feed Notifier supports all common RSS and Atom feed formats.

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WebReader

WebReader is a free desktop RSS reader (Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X), also available for Android, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, and PlayBook, that allows you to easily view RSS feeds by headlines or titles, summaries, or full posts. Navigate among items using Previous and Next buttons. Read original content for each item from the website directly in the reading pane of WebReader. Each item is displayed in a clean reading view.

Save complete articles, including images, for reading offline later when you don’t have an internet connection. You can also easily organize your feeds into folders, and rename, unsubscribe, or move any RSS feed.

WebReader does not sync with Google Reader, but you can import and export OPML files, allowing you to sync indirectly. WebReader requires Adobe Air to install and run.

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Awasu

Awasu is a customizable RSS reader that allows you to sync with other feed readers and supports basic podcast management. It also allows you to search channels and filter feed items.

The free version of Awasu is a limited feature version that provides basic RSS reader features. If you want more features, the Advanced version is $35 and the Professional version is $95. You can compare the different versions on their website.

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NewsBlur

NewsBlur is a web-based RSS reader, also available for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. It provides real-time RSS, pushing articles directly to you. You can read the content from the original site, the way it was meant to be read on the site, and share items with friends and family. NewsBlur also allows you to hide items you don’t want to view and highlight items you want to read.

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FeedBooster

FeedBooster is a free, web-based RSS reader that allows you to customize your reading experience and read and access feeds from your favorite websites and blogs that are most relevant to you. Use FeedBooster’s multi-dimensional search technology and filtering options to find items that you want to read.

FeedBooster allows you to add single feeds using source URLs and import all your RSS feeds from your Google Reader account.

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In addition to the RSS applications and websites listed here, we’ve also shown you how to display RSS feeds on your Windows desktop and how to follow a twitter feed in an RSS reader.

Let us know if you’ve found a useful RSS reader application.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.