Best Free RSS Reader-Aggregator

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Introduction

There are many ways to aggregate and read feeds.

  1. Desktop readers: [Wikipedia] Many users prefer these desktop programs, which integrate feed management with a browser (e.g, Edge). 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 favorably with desktop feed readers. A good one produces a powerful browser-centric workspace. I find this arrangement provides better work flow than a desktop reader. Most web-based readers also offer web-apps for smartphones and tablets. Update: NewsTab is newly added to the web-based reader category.
  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. 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.
  5. Some feeds include audio or video attachments and work best with podcast and vidcast readers.

The "best" feed reader is a matter of individual preference or even personal taste. 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

QuiteRSS is a relatively new, open-source, cross-platform RSS/Atom news reader. It has been under active development since 2012. It's a clean, up-to-date implementation of an email-style feed reader.

QuiteRSS is versatile and offers a full set of options.  It uses a classic three-panel layout (feeds/folders, a list of posts and browser). QuiteRSS is fast starting, and navigation is quick. Both portable and installed versions are available.

It is hard to discover some of the QuiteRSS options. For example, it is not obvious how to show/hide the legacy "Menu" bar (|File|View|Feeds|News|...|Help| items).

Upper-left corner of the QuietRSS window.Menu bar hint: click the tiny icon at the left end of the tabs bar to see and select the "Show Menu Bar" option. Click the "File" menu item in the legacy Menu bar to see and uncheck (hide) the "Show Menu Bar" option)

QuiteRSS has a rich set of social sharing options (Email/Twitter/Facebook/.../Pocket/Etc). But is not easy to discover them. [Hint: right-click the main toolbar > chose customize > click add > scroll down to the one(s) you want. You can also set keyboard shortcuts for them via the options dialog box.]

QuiteRSS just offers a Users Forum for help, but in spite of customizing challenges, it should be easy for most neophyte users to start using it.

QuiteRSS has some nice security functions: I spotted Adblock, Click to Flash (block flash until clicked), and the option to disable Javascript.

FeedDemon splash image.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 to 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 longer 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.

"RSSOwl 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 double-click 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."

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.

Thunderbird has built-in support for aggregating RSS feeds. Thunderbird allows you to view RSS feeds the same way you view your email. It is convenient to have feeds available without opening another program. It's simple - but a little obscure the first time - to subscribe to RSS feeds with Thunderbird. The mollizaZine knowledge base has the information you need to get started subscribing to RSS feeds with Thunderbird.

Related Products and Links

Web-based readers

Inoreader is my RSS reader now. It is clean, simple and powerful, and displays articles in several formats. Like many modern web-apps, Inoreader offers a full suite of social "sharing" options. It also integrates with email, Pocket, OneNote and Dropbox. Inoreader provides Android and iOS apps, plus a mobile site for other small format devices. There are also Inoreader extensions for major browsers.

The Old Reader was one of the web-based readers that emerged after the demise of Google Reader. It is a simple, straightforward reader that is easy to set up. You can send posts to email, Facebook and Twitter.

Feedly is similar to Inoreader. It also displays the latest updates for sites like Facebook and Twitter. Feedly integrates with many other apps and services as well.

G2Reader and The Old Reader are similar to Feedly and Inoreader. According to their websites, the free versions  can accommodate up to 100 feeds. That's enough for many (most?) RSS users.

NewsTab is a new web-based reader for browsers and Android now and iOS soon. Sync between devices is next. NewsTab presents content not just from conventional RSS feeds, but via a large array of pre-selected Sections,  your Twitter and Google accounts, Google searches, and a large number of publications, including many local ones.

I was impressed by the way NewsTab responds quickly to commands and selections. The presentation is flexible, well thought out, and attractive as well. It is easy to set up NewsTab and try it out on your device.

Blogtrottr is a unique service that accesses web feeds you subscribe to and relays them to your email inbox. It converts the content to a compact, easy-to-read format. Blogtrottr accepts OPML subscription lists too.

Netvibes offers a wide range of "widgets" and apps to access web feeds, tweets and other kinds of dynamic content. For example, there's an app that delivers all the latest news from Google, split up into 8 tabs for World, U.S., Business, Sci/Tech, Sports, Entertainment, Health and Most Popular.

AOL has a simple but complete web reader. In particular, it makes it easy to open items you're interested in a new tab. After you connect the feeds you want to follow, you can shift to reading them, extracting what you need, etc. It imported my large OPML file flawlessly, and I was on my way. (I'm back with FeedDemon for the long term, though.)

Browser Add-ons / Extensions

Add-ons / Extensions for browsers and web-apps for smartphones and tablets combine many of the advantages of desktop readers and web-based readers like Google Reader. They have a small footprint and can be "instantly" installed/uninstalled as well. Like web-based readers, an add-on reader creates an efficient browser-centric workspace, with good work flow for feed-based tasks.

Opera has a built-in RSS reader integrated with Opera Mail.

Mozilla maintains a "collection" of popular feed-reader add-ons for Firefox. You can add them to Firefox directly from the collection page.

NewsBlur is an RSS reader that you can "train" (like/dislike) to show you just the kind of posts you want to see from each feed.. See my reply to a fortuitous comment for more information. PCWorld has a more recent article written from the viewpoint of a user. The free version of NewsBlur is limited to 64 feeds, but that is enough for many users. Free iPad/iPhone iOS, Android apps, Windows Phone apps, browser add-ons, and more.

Brief is a Firefox extension: It is powerful and simple at the same time. Brief is an excellent, capable replacement for Google Reader. I follow nearly 500 feeds [crazy I know], and Brief imported all of them flawlessly for my test. NewsFox is another capable add-on that puts a three pane reader (classic email layout) directly in a tab. Both of these Firefox extensions integrate directly with Live Bookmarks. There are also many other feed reader extensions for Firefox.

RSS Subscription Extension adds RSS feed discovery and subscription options to Chrome. The extension comes with 4 feed readers predefined (Google Reader, iGoogle, Bloglines and My Yahoo).

Podcast and Vidcast "readers"

gPodder downloads and manages audio and video content ("podcasts"). Listen directly on your computer or on your mobile devices. Supports RSS, Atom, YouTube, Soundcloud, Vimeo and XSPF feed formats. For Linux, FreeBSD, Windows, Mac OS X and mobile devices like the Nokia N810, N900, N9 and Sailfish OS. A portable version is available from PortableApps.com

Miro is ideally suited for pulling in and managing content from video feeds (vidcasts). It's a powerful open-source video aggregator that opens up a large variety of video "channels". The organization behind Miro is working for a more open and diverse world of online video. [more video programs]

Juice's primary purpose is to pull in and manage audio content (podcasts). Juice supports many media players directly. According to a comment below, Juice appears to be abandon-ware, but works fine. FeedDemon also has a podcast utility.

BitsCast, FireANT and VLC Media Player are some more media aggregators that might be just what you're looking for. Update: Just added Media Monkey - see the comment below.


Related links

  1. What is RSS all about?
  2. List of feed aggregators - Wikipedia

Quick Selection Guide

QuiteRSS

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

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
QuiteRSS is a relatively-new, open-source, cross-platform RSS/Atom news reader. It is versatile, and has a full set of options. QuiteRSS has a rich set of social sharing options (Email/Twitter/Facebook/.../Pocket/Etc) too. QuiteRSS is fast starting, and navigation is quick. Both portable and installed versions are available.
The main toolbar can be customized with a rich selection of elements -- Print, Evernote, Zoom out/in, etc. -- but the way to reach them is hard to discover, as described in the Discussion above.
0.18.2 as of 2015.09.28
27MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 7 to 10; Ubuntu, Gentoo, openSUSE, Mandriva, et al., and FreeBSD

FeedDemon

5
 
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.
4.5
4 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
You may still be able to create a portable version of FeedDemon - see the Discussion.
Windows XP, Vista or 7, with IE 7 or later installed (also runs fine on Windows 8).

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.
3.14
6.2 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.

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. RSSOwl allows nested folders.
Requires Java.
2.2
5 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
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)"
Windows, Mac and Linux. Requires Java.

Omea Reader

3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
2.1.2
5 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/XP/2003, requires Microsoft .NET.

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.
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).
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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4.108695
Average: 4.1 (46 votes)

Comments

I use IFTTT (https://ifttt.com/discover) It does a million things well including RSS feeds sending them to your email, evernote and an entire host of possibilities
It is really worth a look even if you end up not using it for RSS

I used Google Reader until its death, then switched to The Old Reader perhaps two years ago. It was a seamless transition and has been totally satisfying. www.theoldreader.com. Works a lot like Google Reader did - web-based, simple and functional.

That's interesting runbei. I tried The Old Reader when Google Reader died, but ended up with Inoreader and forgot about it. I see The Old Reader is still a simple, straightforward browser-based RSS reader.

How about DiggReader - http://digg.com/reader ? I used to play with it for a while but I quitted in favour of Feedly.
I still love DiggReaader.

Hi, do you know a RSS Reader for check +5000 feeds (more or less they make 60.000 RSS) and filter keyword?

"... KrISS feed is a simple and smart (or stupid) feed reader ...":

http://tontof.net/kriss/feed/

Creaky Coot is a minimalist and responsive RSS reader and links saver:
https://github.com/piero-la-lune/Creaky-Coot

GreatNews - RSS reader:
http://curiostudio.com/

"... After a glorious run of almost 10 years, regretfully, BlogBridge is no longer available as a supported product ...":

http://www.blogbridge.com/

I used Inoreader for quite some time, until I realized it wasn't displaying or updating all my feeds. It happened in various browsers so I attributed it to the service. I haven't found I like quite as much yet. :)

Ahem sad  .... link missing for QuiteRSS? I find no external URL.

And ... the system requirements for QuiteRSS (the system requirements are usually posted to the right of the 'gear' icon) are also AWOL ....  crying

Half a dozen places in the Description, and in the Text at the bottom in the list: it is referred to as "QuietRSS". So, is it "QuietRSS" or "QuiteRSS"?

Thanks for catching those flaws and errors Sea Mac. I think I have fixed them. BTW, it's QuiteRSS. An important update in the Discussion block for QuiteRSS is also coming soon.

Thank you: for donating the time to help keep this place running!

And I found a little poll here: http://quiterss.org/en/quiterss-for-other-os quite informal - asking what other RSS readers you might have used. I noted that RSSOwl is in the lead, with Feed Demon a few points behind. (As a Macintosh OS X user - RSSOwl is the one I use ... and RSSOwl is listed as the Best RSS Reader For Macintosh systems in the Free Mac Software List.)

One of the readers comments below noted that with RSSOwl "you can use the middle mouse button to open the news in an external browser" ....

I would have rated RSSOwl higher in this category if it did not require Java. But it's a nice reader.


Not that much out there for Macintosh Users ... and besides: Macintosh COMES with Java (It is integrated into the OS as a development layer.).

PS check for Typos again ... I see "QuiteqRSS" and 2 "QuietRSS" leftover in your review ... (Proofreading is NOT my day job: Dyslexia is a part of my Autism Spectrum disorder ... and I easily get QuietRSS and QuiteRSS scrambled up.)

Thanks again Sea Mac,

To quote Winnie-the-Poo, "Oh, bother." I've been plagued by the Quite problem for a long time. Trouble is, both quite and quiet are in the dictionary. And they look the same beside that big RSS. So... I looked carefully for a spell checker in this editor, and what do you know? There is one. ;)

I use The Old Reader. Works great, a seamless transition from the defunct Google Reader. Why would I change?

The Old Reader is great. Since Google Reader was dead, I had been looking for an alternate feed reader, and I found The Old Reader, and it's excellent. InoReader is also very good, but I have been using The Old Reader, and it just seems simple and works well.

Thanks, I had forgotten about The Old Reader runbei. I've added it to the list.

I tried Inoreader this week after persevering with Commafeed for several months.

I much prefer Commafeed's layout and visual appearance but man is it slow ... I've frequently had to wait several minutes and refresh the page a couple of times too before all my feeds are displayed properly.

Inoreader by comparison is extremely fast, it's ready to go in just a few seconds and from just a couple of days with it, it seems like a decent on-line service. My only gripe so far is that it doesn't seem to display images from Darkgate Comic Slurper but I can live with that.

For off-line I've been trying FeedReader and I'm pretty impressed. I was using Gpodder for ages to download podcasts that I want to keep, but again it's painfully slow and hogs my CPU while working. FeedReader does the same job very quickly and is considerate with resources too.

I have an account on InoReader, and use it occasionally. It's quite good, and I like it. I would be using it, but I have been using TheOldReader before that, and I like it a lot. You should give it a try. http://theoldreader.com/ It is free for 100 feeds, which I think is reasonable for general users.

Thanks Anupam : )

I did try Old Reader quite a while back but moved on for some reason that I've forgotten now.

It might have been the subscription limit, as I have a couple of hundred I think at the moment.

Re; Darkgate Comic Slurper, on further investigation this morning it seems that the problem is with the site rather than Inoreader. The links on that site do go down from time to time which I think is the problem now.

Wow.. that much of feeds? You able to keep up? :D. BTW, InoReader has an Android app too, if you didn't know already.

Hehe yes I do get a bit carried away, so no I don't keep up with all of them. I just tend to browse and read what catches my interest but I might have a clear out at some point.

I'm a bit behind the times hardware-wise, my phone doesn't run any apps at all :)

Another minor annoyance in Inoreader is that the "Recommended Sources" feature doesn't seem to know whether or not you're already subsribed to a feed.

Thus it will recommend feeds that you already have and, it will let you subscribe to them too so that you can easily end up with duplicate subscriptions.

"Does not have one of my "essential" functions (a way to open posts directly in an external without first opening them in the internal reading pane). I know that's not the way most users read feeds though. ;)"

Use the middle mouse button to open the news in an external browser.

QuiteRSS:
+Portable.
+Open source.
-No SOCKS proxy support. This kills it for me.

Thunderbird:
+Like the idea of mail+RSS feeds in one place.
-Managing subscriptions is not well thought out. For example: Can't create a new folder in "Managing Subscriptions". There's also some funk stuff it does when moving folders. There's a lot of steps involved to do other tasks.

RSSOwl:
+Subfolders.
+Excellent feed and folder management.
+Discontinued feeds are displayed with an X.
+Fast.
+No problems with Java.
+Open source.

QuiteRSS has SOCKS proxy support in v0.16.2 (18.08.2014)Revision 3378, which is in beta right now.

QuiteRSS is very fast and light weight.

I'm running a portable version.

QuiteRSS has some RSS formatting issues that I'm trying to work out. Right now it strips out the formatting while other RSS readers will show me the RSS feed's posting with full format. There is an option to see the feed post as a complete webpage, but that's the entire full framed webpage. Other readers do a better job. But this may be an option I can't find, a bug, or a future enhancement.

Interesting snakyjake. By "+No problems with Java." do you mean Java is no longer required, or do you mean that Java causes no problems for RSSOwl? I have purged Java from my devices forever because of the endless security holes it reveals.

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