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 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. Many web-based readers also offer web-apps for smart phones and tablets.
  4. 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.
  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.

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

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.

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

It takes some intuition to discover some of the options. For example, it is not obvious how to show/hide the legacy "Menu" bar (File/View/Feeds/News/.../Help), but it is. (Hint: click the tiny main navigation button at the left end of the tabs bar to see the Show option. Use the File sub-menu in the Menu bar to uncheck the Show option.)

And while there is 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 customise > click add > scroll down to the one(s) you want. You can also set keyboard shortcuts for them via the options dialog box.)

There is no help file or online help at this point, but in spite of the customizing challenges, it should be easy for most neophyte users to start using QuietRSS.

QuietRSS 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 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.

Thunderbird has built-in support for aggregating RSS feeds. Thunderbird allows you to view RSS feeds the same way you view your email. I 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.

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.

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. QuietRSS has a rich set of social sharing options (Email/Twitter/Facebook/.../Pocket/Etc). QuietRSS is fast starting, and navigation is quick. Both portable and installed versions are available.
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. ;)
http://quiterss.org/en
0.16.2 as of 8/18/2014
12.6MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Linux, Windows 7 & 8,
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.
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. RSSOwl allows nested folders.
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.
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 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)

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