How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: Do You Use a Desktop or Online Solution to Manage Your RSS Feeds?

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RSS feeds are a wonderful and simple way to keep up with all of your favorite websites on a daily basis. This week we would like to know if you use a desktop client or an online service to manage your RSS feeds.


Photo by mstephens7.

RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) make it easy to streamline your online activity when monitoring a large number of websites and is certainly preferable to visiting each website individually. But if you only have a few websites that you regularly follow, then it may not really matter one way or the other if you make use of RSS feeds to keep up with the latest articles.

If you prefer using a desktop RSS client, then you have a nice selection to choose from such as Feed Demon, Mozilla Thunderbird, SharpReader, and RSS Bandit just to name a few. You can customize the look, layout, fonts, and such to suit your needs in varying amounts based on the particular software you have chosen. Another bonus in using a desktop client is that you do not need to sign up for a special account just to access your RSS feeds. A downside is that you are unable to access those same feeds if you are away from home or work (unless you use a laptop).

Online RSS services have their good points as well. You can use them wherever you have access to the Internet, there is no software that you need to keep updated, and with services such as Google Reader they can tie-in so well with other online offerings from the same company. If you are someone who loves using cloud-based services then an online RSS aggregator is certainly a good fit for your lifestyle. The downside is that you do have to sign up for an account somewhere and your ability to customize the interface may be rather limited.

This week we would like to know if you use a desktop client, an online service, or a combination of both to keep up with the RSS feeds for your favorite websites. Is there a particular client or service that you would highly recommend to other people for its’ efficiency and ease of use? Perhaps there is one (or more) that you have encountered that you would warn others to avoid. New to RSS? Then here is your chance to see what your fellow readers have to say. Let us know your thoughts and recommendations in the comments!

[polldaddy poll=”4451009″]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 01/26/11

Comments (50)

  1. bemymonkey

    I don’t think I could live without Google Reader. The only way to sync my feeds across my mass of connected devices…

  2. trd

    I used to use Opera’s built-in client, but since discovering Google Reader, there is no going back

  3. Romanmir

    Google Reader.. Since.. it is never offline..

  4. matt

    I tend to use Google Reader’s site on both my phone and desktop, but I occasionally use the Android app because I prefer the UI.

    As for the “What is RSS” option, an introduction to RSS article couldn’t hurt. Switching to it saved me a lot of time and trouble, and getting started was easy.

  5. asdf-chan

    I don’t use RSS

  6. Richtpt

    I used to use Google Reader which worked great! But now I follow all those same places on twitter so there really isn’t a need for me to use RSS. Sure, I might miss a few things, but that’s ok. And with Seesmic, I can group everything easily so I don’t miss that much.

  7. Neil

    I too use google reader to sync across devices. I read via the google reader website on my desktop and netbook then sync with reeder on my iPhone. This all works perfectly for myself!

  8. crister

    Google Reader. I tried a couple of desktop solutions, but really, why bother with launching another application on the computer and then having to deal with each individual feed or folder to see what’s new. With Google Reader, I can zip down either my over all list or click on specific folders and just skim the titles. Same goes for the IE feed reader. What a pain having to deal with the folder and manually updating and clicking on an individual feed to see what is exactly new.

    Google Reader rules.

  9. sint@x

    I use Google Reader on my PC but on my iPad and iPhone i use Reeder and i see im trying the Reeder client for Mac Osx which is currently in BETA…..but i love Google Reader :)

  10. notovny

    I use Google Reader for nearly all of my feeds, and will often use other online services to turn limited feeds into full-content feeds. However, its collective feed checking means that the custom full-content feeds I make will often result in later updates than subscribing to the default feed; in nearly all cases, i’m fine with that.

    There is a webcomic I read that updates about ten times per day (MSPA), that I like to read as soon as the updates are posted, and whose RSS feed has an incorrect pubDate and a broken guid attribute. Google Reader parses it successfully, but not as often as I’d like, and I’m often the one force-triggering the Google Reader update for everyone else.

    I ultimately wound up hamfisting a PHP script to correct it on the fly and polling the script with RSSOwl for popup desktop notifications. If I could figure out the problems I’m having with RSSOwl’s audio notifications, it would be perfect.

  11. Daryl

    Primarily Google Reader for me too. I use the free MobileRSS app on my ipodtouch which connects to my Google Reader account and keeps everything nicely in sync.

    I don’t understand how people are using Twitter instead of RSS to keep up with posts etc and am probably missing something as I have started to use Twitter only fairly recently.

  12. thenonhacker

    Netvibes never fails! Has so many ways to view data, it’s so light and clean-looking.

  13. Hatryst

    I clicked the second-last option. Don’t ask why :D
    I always tried to understand RSS, never got to know the mystery behind it, and (as the name implies) it isn’t “Really Simple” Syndication. I’d call it RDS (Really Difficult Stuff) ;)

  14. cosmo

    Feedly – – which works with google reader

  15. Chronno S. Trigger

    Out of twelve comments, three don’t use Google Reader. Well, now it’s 13 to 3; I use Google Reader as well.

  16. kushal

    Google Reader is best cross-device solution. Though for Ubuntu users, Liferea is best choice, and for any other platform where Chrome is available, FeedSquares and NewsSquares will give semi-native feeling of accessing your feeds………….

  17. Tyler

    I use Thunderbird for my emails, so it only makes sense to use it for RSS feeds as well.

  18. Peter

    Hands down – Google Reader to manage my feeds.

    I use the web client on my desktop 100% of the time.

    99% of the time I use native apps on my iOS and Android devices (Reeder for iPad or NewsRob for Android). Every once in a while, I’ll fire up the mobile web app though.

  19. George Macfleur

    My home page is now, where I can add many RSS feeds, and the top items are there to peruse. It is a little cleaner in my opinion than downloading or having the feeds fill up an inbox.

  20. Lee

    I use Google Reader also. I have 14 feeds (plus my site just to see how feeds look when I post) and I have it set to just show titles, so I can skim down the titles until something jumps out at me, then I can click it and read it.

  21. horflu

    absolutely Google Reader

  22. SantiagoLP

    Google Reader web on PC and Google Reader App on Android. :)

  23. Noypi

    I’m really not into RSS feeds, but since Rockmelt had this App Edge where you can add RSS feeds aside from Facebook and Twitter stream, might as well maximize the said feature. At least I don’t have to check the all sites, since the feed is realtime.

  24. Wil

    Google reader, mainly because it syncs with my phone, desktop and work laptop so easily.

  25. Pablo Ruan

    Impressive how is massive the use of Google Reader :D

    I use it too!

  26. cgt

    Lol, am I the only one that uses my browsers (Firefox) in-built RSS feature? o.O

  27. TomSr

    Enjoy using Google Reader. Only problem I have is that it doesn’t seem to support feeds that need login credentials.

  28. RSM

    I’ve used Newz Crawler for years. Not free, but highly customizable and an excellent reader. Hasn’t been updated for a while though.

  29. Christopher Masiello

    I use Google Reader and love it. I used to use Bloglines before that. Web based works at home, work, and my family’s houses.

  30. Ametista13

    Feedly is the way forward!

  31. Ryan

    I used to use thunderbird now I use google reader

  32. Gerry

    I use the Firefox add-on “Brief”. It does all I need, is very easy to use, and has been very reliable.

  33. Ben

    I don’t understand how a desktop RSS reader would even make sense. If you are away for two days and you go to sync, you’ll only get the last days worth of stuff. For bigger sites which do a lot of news this is a real issue. So for me, Google Reader is the only solution that makes sense.

  34. terse

    FeedDemon desktop client synched to Google Reader. Best of both worlds: universal access when needed via the Google web UI, plus extra tricks (feeds requiring logon? reading without a connection? better, more configurable UI?) when I want them.

  35. venus

    I used to browse RSS via Google Reader and I was comfortable with it. As I wanted to filter out all the unwanted contents I received, couldn’t do it with GR. For this particular reason I HAD TO switch to RSSOwl. I’m longing for a similar online RSS reader with robust filter options.

  36. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    I use Google Reader, but when I am on my PC, I use FeedDemon synced to Google Reader. :)

  37. Danny

    Same as trd, I used Opera until I discovered Google Reader. And before that I used Abilon, which was the best standalone desktop rss client.

  38. clubmaster

    i´ve to manage many feeds. i tried rss-clients anyway but i prefer online solution ala g-reader. They have a lot of pros.

  39. Rocky

    Google Reader FTW on my Windows machine @ work, windows netbook on the go, Mac Mini @ home, Linux machine while I’m messing around @ workshop, android smartphone…getting the picture here? it works everywhere and has a great android interface with syncing!! don’t think i could ever go back to not using rss because i would miss too much. I follow some on twitter too, but it’s so easy to get lost in the feed, i typically just rely on my google reader feed!

  40. immortalgeek

    I used to use Thunderbird on Ubuntu and Outllook ’07 on my Win 7 machine untill I discovered google reader. Google Reader all the way! it can easily sync feeds across all my computers and my N1.

  41. WayneW

    I use “MyYahoo” as my homepage (had it for years) and all my feeds are there. Actually I have more than one page (5) via tabs on “my yahoo”. I label them IM (Internet Marketing), Windows, HowTo, Misc.
    Besides that, I just use email notifications for a lot of sites (this is one) that I visit every day.
    Works great for me.

  42. John

    I use to use Google Reader, but now I use Windows Live Mail 11.

  43. mmg1818

    RSS 2.0 No:1 for feed No:1 for USENET

  44. mono_lisa

    I use the Firefox add-on Sage… but it seems like I’m the only one. Have I been missing something?

  45. yossi

    hey..I can not imagine my life without Google Reader that starts and ends my day. I think that Google’s tool is excellent!

  46. Matt

    Very surprised to see so many Google Reader votes.

    I have to say, its Google Reader here. According to it, I read like 10,000 articles a month; i pretty much spend all my surfing time within it. It’s perfect since I use other computers a lot, and my phone. On my iPad I use Reeder which works with Google Reader perfectly, that app is worth it’s weight in gold.

  47. Martina Varsanyi

    I use Google Reader online, but I bought FeedDemon, a desktop RSS Reader. It synchronize itself with google, can prefetch the posts for offline reading, so when I don’t have internet (for example: I’m on the airplane) I still can read.

  48. Starkiller

    Google Reader as well. It never required so little effort to keep up-to-date and synced.

  49. Eric

    I used to use Google Reader, but I have switched completely to Microsoft Outlook 2010.

  50. Afif Rais

    Google Reader makes me lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks and takes my man-boob away!

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