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Best Free RSS Reader-Aggregator

 
In a Hurry?
  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
Introduction

Interim notes on migrating from Google Reader:

Google Reader was swept up in "Spring Cleaning" this year at Google. Several feed readers currently use the Reader API to sync subscriptions between computers and portable devices. They will be left high and dry unless another API is made available to fill the gap. You should export your feed subscriptions from Google Reader now if you don't do something else.

NewsBlur makes it dead simple to connect to Google Reader or upload an OPML file to clone your Google Reader subscriptions.

Feedly was already working on their own backend server, and they have now switched over. They are making their API available to other readers.

Update: There are now - 2013.07.02 - 16 apps connected to the Feedly API.

RSSOwl issued a note note about the need to install the an older version - RSSOwl 2.1.6 - before you can import feeds from Google Reader. After the import you can easily update to RSSOwl 2.2 (or later) and continue the migration by selecting Tools > Unsubscribe from Google Reader. I don't know if you can use an OPML file exported from Google Reader as an alternative.

FeedDemon: Nick Bradbury has released a last, free version of FeedDemon Pro, which no linger links to Google Reader.

WebReader was the desktop companion of a series of mobile-apps for iPad, iPhone, and Kindle Fire. It is closing down due to the demise of Google Reader. It may or may not come back. Be sure to export your WebReader data before July 1.


There are many ways to aggregate and read feeds.

  1. Desktop readers: [Wikipedia] Many users prefer these desktop programs, which couple an integral browser (usually the IE engine) with feed management. The result is a complete, reader-centric workspace, which can be quite powerful. [why use a desktop reader]
  2. Web-based readers: Web-based feed readers compete on a par with desktop feed readers. A good one produces a powerful browser-centric workspace, which I find gives me better work flow than a desktop reader.
  3. All major browsers, Including Opera, and many email clients, for example Thunderbird and Windows Live Mail, now have built-in feed reading. There are also many add-ons/extensions which enhance their native capability. See more on them in Related Products and Links below.
  4. Feedly is a feed reader for the 21st Century. cool It's available as an extension / add-on for all major browsers, and there are extensions and web-apps for major browsers, Blackberry, Android devices, iPhone and iPad. It has steadily improved since it was announced. Feedly developed their own backend server to replace Google's. See more on these and other readers in Related Products and Links below.
  5. Some people just want a simple notifier to let them know when a new post has arrived. Feed Notifier is a nice example that you can use for some or all of the feeds you're following.
  6. Some feeds include audio or video attachments and work best with podcast and vidcast readers.
  7. Web-apps for smart phones and tablets.

The "best" feed reader is a matter of individual preference, or even personal taste. laugh There are many good ones. Most of them, including the best, are free like browsers. The one that matches the way you want to work is best for you. :-)

No matter which reader you choose, it should give you some way to back up your feeds, preferably as an OPML file. You may also be able to use your OPML file to move to another reader, although the formats may not be compatible.

Discussion

FeedDemon splash image.Notice: Google announced that Google Reader was swept up in their 2013 "Spring Cleaning." Many feed readers currently use the Reader API to sync subscriptions and post read status between computers and also portable devices. They will all be left high and dry unless another API is made available by some as yet unknown entity that leaps in to fill the gap. Read more at the top in the Introduction.

FeedDemon:  A powerful, time-proven program with a well thought out user interface. It can be intimidating to new RSS users, but most are able learn to use FeedDemon fairly quickly, and it has an excellent help facility. FeedDemon integrates seamlessly with Google Reader, so you have great synchronism between devices, as well as access to the best of desktop and web-based readers.

You can  subscribe to audio podcasts and play them directly from FeedDemon as well. FeedDemon also handles secure feeds (those that require a username and password). You may still be able to create a portable version of FeedDemon.

Update: Nick Bradbury has released a last, free version of FeedDemon Pro, which no linger links to Google Reader.

"FeedDemon requires Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, with Internet Explorer 7 or later installed." It's been running fine for me on Windows 8 as well.

RSSOwl: Compares very favorably with FeedDemon. They both have powerful ways to manage feeds, and several viewing options. RSSOwl's options seem more versatile. It's not obvious how to find and set up just the combination of options you want for either one though. I like to view just a list of feed posts in the reader, and open the ones that catch my eye directly in Firefox. That combination is not easy to set up, but it's possible to get just what I want in both. I like the resulting view in RSSOwl a little better, but there are many other viewing modes that I haven't evaluated. RSSOwl easily imports existing feeds from other readers.

"RSS Owl is a powerful application to organize, search and read your news feeds in a comfortable way. It runs cross platform on Windows, Linux and Mac and can also be installed into Eclipse. RSS Owl is translated into the popular languages of the world.

"Some of the unique highlights are google reader synchronization, tabbed reading, powerful searches that can be saved, news filters with automated actions, embedded browser and newspaper layout, tray notifications, clean-up wizard and powerful user customization.

"RSSOwl requires no installation (but it does require Java) Simply start it with a doubleclick and find a large list of sample feeds already provided. For your convenience, an installer is provided on Windows. On Linux, you can obtain RSSOwl from the online repository (http://www.rssowl.org)."

FeedReader is a simple, straightforward program that easily handles a large number of feeds. FeedReader is not as powerful as FeedDemon but it has most of the important options, and not a lot of confusing ones. It does not require Java either (many readers do for some reason). FeedReader provides the important option to open links in an external browser (but not the post itself as FeedDemon does).  It does not sync with Google Reader, but imports or exports OPML files that are compatible with Google Reader.

"Feedreader provides cutting-edge features in an intuitive, user-friendly environment. Even non-technical users can view comprehensive, consolidated information from across the Internet – faster and easier than ever before."

BlogBridge is targeted at power users who subscribe to many feeds, but don't let that scare you off. It's designed to make it easy to discover feeds you'll be interested in. BlogBridge gives you access to "Guides", which are written by experts in many different feed categories.  You can upload a list of  your feeds to a free "BlogBridge Service" account to synchronize your feeds across multiple computers.

Omea Reader combines Web browsing, feed reading and newsgroups in one capable application. Omea Pro (also free) adds email, ICQ and Miranda (multi-protocol IM) to create an integrated information workspace. Integrated with Microsoft Outlook for email.

RSS Bandit and Awasu are comparable to FeedDemon, but they're a bit less capable and complex. That means their learning curves are not as formidable. Even so, they are elegant full-featured readers. RSS Bandit is now an Open Source program. It was launched by Dare Obasanjo -- programmer, avid feed reader and active blogger. Awasu is widely used by business users.

Quick Selection Guide

Notice: Google announced that Google Reader was swept up in their 2013 "Spring Cleaning." Many feed readers currently use the Reader API to sync subscriptions and post read status between computers and also portable devices. They will all be left high and dry unless another API is made available by some as yet unknown entity that leaps in to fill the gap.

FeedDemon
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
FeedDemon is a power-user's dream, but it's intuitive enough for intermediate level users. It no longer integrates with Google Reader. FeedDemon handles feeds with attachments, like podcasts, very well too. It also handles secure feeds (those that require a username and password).
Perhaps a bit complex for a neophyte user.
http://www.feeddemon.com/
http://www.feeddemon.com/
4.5
4 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows XP, Vista or 7, with IE 7 or later installed (also runs fine on Windows 8).

You may still be able to create a portable version of FeedDemon - see the Discussion.

FeedReader
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple, straightforward feed reader that easily handles a (very) large number of feeds. Has the essential options, and not a lot of confusing ones. Does not require Java (many other readers do for some reason). Import or export OPML files. Option to open links in an external browser.
Not as many options as FeedDemon (but simpler to use). Does not sync with Google Reader.
http://feedreader.com/
3.14
6.2 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP, 7 & 8
BlogBridge
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Runs on Mac, Windows AND Linux. Targeted at power users who subscribe to many feeds. Designed to make it easy to discover feeds you'll be interested in. Gives you access to "Guides", which are written by experts in many different feed categories. Upload a list of your feeds to a free "BlogBridge Service" account to synchronize your feeds across multiple computers.
Requires Java.
http://www.blogbridge.com/
6.7
5.1 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows, Mac and Linux. Requires Java.
RSSOwl
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
A powerful, classic RSS reader, along the lines of FeedDemon. Many filtering, viewing, tagging and organizing options.
Requires Java.
http://www.rssowl.org/
2.2
5 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Windows, Mac and Linux. Requires Java.

NOTE: See the comment at - http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-rss-reader-aggregator.htm#comm... - about freeze problems.

To set up the mode I prefer (a simple list of posts in the reader, and open the ones of interest in Firefox) use the following preferences. 1) View > Layout > pick "Classic" > move divider to the bottom of the list panel. 2) Tools > Preferences > Browser > pick "Use the standard external browser (Mozilla Firefox)"

Omea Reader
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
http://www.jetbrains.com/omea/
2.1.2
5 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/XP/2003, requires Microsoft .NET.
WebReader
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Desktop companion of a series of mobile-apps for iPad, iPhone, and Kindle Fire (so far). Has just the few important options you'd find in a mobile-app. That makes it easy to learn how to use, especially if you're familiar with touch-centric devices. WebReader makes it easy to access web feeds by list, excerpts or full posts, and adds "Previous" / "Next" arrows to navigate with. Read original content at websites/blogs directly in the reading pane.
Does not sync directly with Google Reader, but imports/exports OPML files, which allows you to sync indirectly. Requires Adobe Air.
http://www.getwebreader.com/
0.8.80
1.8 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows, Mac or Linux
RSS Bandit
2.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Elegant, full featured open-source program. Nice balance between capable and complex. Ties in with IE7 feed subscriptions through the Windows RSS Platform.
Requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. While the latest update was 2013-02-13, the project is not active, and there has been no response to the loss of sync with Google Reader.
http://www.rssbandit.org/
1.9.0
8.2 MB
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server. Requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
Awasu
2
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Elegant, full featured. Nice balance between capable and complex. Widely used by business users.
The file size is relatively large (but Awasu doesn't require .NET or Java).
http://www.awasu.com/
3.0
38 MB
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 98/XP/Vista/7

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Comments

by philip on 23. June 2013 - 15:58  (108680)

Nick Bradbury has released a last, free version of FeedDemon Pro, which no linger links to Google Reader.

by F13-Reboot on 14. June 2013 - 10:00  (108522)

FeedDemon has problems with a large database (5-8.000) of news, sometimes it hangs. Much better is GreatNews. http://www.curiostudio.com/

by philip on 24. June 2013 - 13:39  (108702)

You can use the "Cleanup Wizard" under Tools in the menu to limit how many and how long to retain old posts that you've already read. I also find that it helps to use the Manage Cache utility under File in the menu to compress the cache and check it for errors.

by philip on 14. June 2013 - 12:14  (108529)

GreatNews is still stuck in Beta. Judging by the GreatNews forum, and by the fact that the blog is not reachable, there is not much development. It looks interesting and suited to intrepid users, but it doesn't appear ready yet for broad recommendation or serious review.

by sicknero on 24. June 2013 - 8:59  (108697)

I wouldn't call myself an especially intrepid user but this one is still my favourite RSS reader.

My version (1.0.0.386 portable) has no beta tag and the developer last posted in the forum just a month ago so he's still interested I guess, although the version I have is two years old.

Anyway all that being said, out of the available off-line readers/aggregators that I've tried so far, I find this one easily the most stable and least demanding on resources, and the interface/layout is pleasing too.

by elastic-pad on 26. May 2013 - 21:26  (108047)

try out elastic-pad (web based for desktop and mobile):
http://www.elastic-pad.com

by philip on 26. May 2013 - 23:54  (108049)

"coming soon...."

by datajanne on 12. April 2013 - 22:13  (107030)

*** gPodder *** The best pod aggregator i know and used for years is gPodder (open source). I use it every week to downloand mp3-radio programs (+30 feeds) and have tried at least 20 rss aggregators but this one is "da shit" for that purpose imho :) Try to prove me wrong :) It should be in this list!

by philip on 12. April 2013 - 22:51  (107032)

Thanks datajanne. Yes, another good podcast aggregator. I've added it in that section. It's available as a portable version from PortableApps too.

by sicknero on 24. June 2013 - 9:09  (108698)

I've been trying gpodder for about a month now, the PAF portable version. I really really like it - the layout, the GUI, the way it accepts video podcasts, the way it handles incomplete downloads.

However I don't know if it's just me but when I run it, it maxes out my CPU for ages, takes forever to load, and often has to be restarted for the downloads to work.

On balance I don't really mind this too much - I've been happy to run it when I'm on my way out or whatever a couple of times a week, so I can just leave it to it, even though I sometimes return to my PC and find that the downloads have "stuck" so I have to try it again later.

To be fair my desktop PC is rather elderly which might be the problem. I'll give gpodder a whirl on my laptop to see if it's any better, but meanwhile I just learnt in this thread that Media Monkey handles podcasts so I'll try that out as a possible alternative.

Which in turn has reminded me that Winamp does too, so I'll add that to my list of possibles.

by RushArt on 15. March 2013 - 10:11  (106259)

With the inevitalble death of Google Reader, this page is more relevant than ever.

Also, the creator of FeedDemon also decided not to develop his software anymore which is caused by Google Reader soon demise.

Link: http://nick.typepad.com/blog/2013/03/the-end-of-feeddemon.html

by rhiannon on 22. May 2013 - 22:35  (107973)

Update from Nick, Feed Demon developer:
I'll release a new version of FeedDemon which no longer syncs with Google Reader. This version will be free, won't contain any ads, and will have all of the features of the Pro version. You can use it free of charge for as long as you like - but it will be the last version of FeedDemon.

Nick Bradbury: My Plan for FeedDemon

by runbei on 14. March 2013 - 0:29  (106227)

Google Reader is going away. What will Feedly do? I'm having no luck finding an acceptable Web-based replacement for Google Reader.

by rhiannon on 22. May 2013 - 21:55  (107971)
by philip on 14. March 2013 - 15:11  (106242)

Feedly may be in the best position to fill the vacuum that Google Reader will leave. They are already working on their own backend server, and have stated that there will be a seamless switchover when the lights go out at Google Reader.

Feedly itself looks much improved to me since the last time I tried it. It looks good enough to replace FeedDemon, which has been my favorite reader (but will no longer sync without Google Reader).

by Funcy-dcm on 26. January 2013 - 14:28  (104838)

Hello.
What do you think about QuiteRSS version 0.12.0?

by sicknero on 24. June 2013 - 9:11  (108699)

Very nice, but maxes out my CPU for quite a while when updating. (v 0.13)

by Anonymous501 (not verified) on 23. November 2012 - 17:34  (102801)

I don't think Feeddemon can handle secure feeds anymore, this feature finished with v4

by philip on 23. November 2012 - 19:57  (102811)

Thanks Anon, Maybe the free version of FeedDemon never did. Evidently the Pro version still does.

by Vladimir Shabanov on 3. August 2012 - 21:52  (97172)

Hello, Philip.

What can you say about BazQux Reader?

by philip on 3. August 2012 - 23:05  (97174)

Hello Vladimir

Interesting concept (following comments right along with posts), but...

"BazQux Reader is an RSS feed reader which not only shows you posts from your favorite blogs but also shows you comments for these posts.

"No need to click to see what people think. No need to constantly go back to interesting discussions. All the stuff in one place.

"Up to 15 subscriptions [feeds] is free. Paid account costs $30 per year."

Methinks 15 feeds with the free version is rather limiting.

by Vladimir Shabanov on 4. August 2012 - 10:19  (97204)

How many feeds you think is needed for free version?

I think 15 it's enough to look for most interesting feeds. Newsblur have limit of 64 feeds, but it's too many to select and still not so many to read everything for free.

by Anupam on 4. August 2012 - 10:45  (97205)

I am very choosy when it comes to subscribing to feeds, but still I have more than 15 subscriptions. And the more vociferous ones, who like to read about different kind of information, will certainly have a whole lot of feeds.

In today's age of internet, where so much of great information is there to read, how can just 15 be enough?
15 feeds limitation is just a joke, and it makes the service a crippleware, and nothing more.

And anyways, why would people go for a service which puts any kind of such limitation on feeds, when there are many services and software out there for free?

by MidnightCowboy on 4. August 2012 - 4:59  (97185)

I would agree. A program of this type with these limitations we would regard as "crippleware".

by Genny (not verified) on 31. October 2012 - 5:10  (101642)

Anyways there is no much intelligence in creating a basic feed reader. And no doubt we nowadays see a lot of .Net, Java, VB, based bloatwares. Haven't seen a good, resource light, efficient feed aggregator lately! Who asks money for such crippleware!

by Pretty Boy (not verified) on 23. June 2012 - 17:21  (95277)

Bamboo Feed Reader - Firefox addon @ https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/bamboo-feed-reader/
Newsfox - Firefox addon @ https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/newsfox/

QuiteRSS - Standalone @ http://code.google.com/p/quite-rss/

by philip on 24. June 2012 - 4:33  (95292)

Thanks for the leads Pretty Boy. I skimmed the comments on Bamboo Feedreader for Firefox. It seems comparable to a few other extensions that are listed for this category. NewsFox is already listed. QuiteRSS looks promising, but judging from the history does not seem mature enough for serious consideration. I'll keep an eye on the two that are not listed to see where they end up.

by Pretty Boy (not verified) on 24. June 2012 - 13:21  (95308)

Cool. Thanks.

Keep up the good work.

by dbareis (not verified) on 5. June 2012 - 11:59  (94429)

As far as I know there is no longer a free version of feeddemon.

by philip on 5. June 2012 - 19:15  (94456)

This question comes up from time to time. I just installed the latest version - 4.1 - of FeedDemon for the first time on an old computer of mine (the copy on my main PC is registered). It ran just fine, thank you, with no mention of trial period or other such limitations. Here's what the "Help > About FeedDemon" popup states:

FeedDemon comes in two flavors - FeedDemon Pro and FeedDemon Lite. The Pro version contains more features and doesn't display the ads shown in the free Lite version.

See http://www.feeddemon.com/gopro/?ver=4.1&build=0.0&app=FeedDemon&edition=Lite&lang=English for more details.