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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 30. April 2011 - 1:17  (71147)

Thanks SilenceIsGolden. There are plenty of other feed-readers so I'll just remove Snarfer from this category.

by Boza (not verified) on 27. December 2010 - 18:24  (63359)

Online readers are far better! This one is new, and easy to use www.rssmagnet.net

by philip on 1. January 2011 - 18:23  (63658)

RSS Magnet is a simple, straightforward online reader that is very easy to understand and use.

by nkCh (not verified) on 24. September 2010 - 21:29  (58380)

Have you tried Channelorama yet?

Channelorama is a free, customizable online RSS reader that allows you to create and manage a personalized list of RSS channels from a list of available sources. You can add your own website or blog among these sources to gain more exposure for your content. You and other users can also rate and review every channel so that the most popular content is pushed up in the channel list. Registration is NOT compulsory to use Channelorama.

by philip on 24. September 2010 - 22:35  (58381)

Channelorama is an interesting Web-based RSS reader. It's main thrust is a "social" dimension. There are several hundred suggested feeds in a wide range of categories to pick from. The idea is for you and other users to rate the feeds so that the best ones rise to the top. Looks as if it's just getting started.

by nkCh (not verified) on 21. March 2011 - 22:46  (68286)

Just a quick update: Channelorama now offers a very simple and easy way to embed RSS channels into YOUR web pages or blogs. Simply select a channel of your choice (in Listing or Search for it), click on its Embed link, get its code, and include it in your web page. You can preview the channel online before actually including it.

by Nehal (not verified) on 6. July 2010 - 10:33  (53838)

I did download the snarfer 1.0.2 exe file from its homepage mentioned in your column http://www.snarfware.com/index.html. When scanned the file online virus scanner the sophos scanner reports it contains the virus. as follows - Sophos 4.52.0 2010.04.18 Sus/Delf-J

Can you please check and verify if it is correct or false positive by Sophos antivirus. Thanks -NEHAL

by Anupam on 6. July 2010 - 11:24  (53844)

It is a false positive. I uploaded the file to VirusTotal, and only Sophos detects it as malicious out of 40 antivirus. It can safely be regarded as a false positive. I have used Snarfer in the past, and it is a good RSS reader. Small and efficient. Go for it :).

by okrick on 23. June 2010 - 4:24  (52804)

FYI

The Feeddemon download link (http://www.newsgator.com/Individuals/FeedDemon/Default.aspx) is broken.

by philip on 23. June 2010 - 4:37  (52807)

Thanks,

Fixed.

by Anonymous on 19. May 2010 - 22:38  (49966)

You save me time, money, & Mega-headaches.
You answer questions I don't even know I should be asking.
You do this in a language, that even a newbie like me can understand (Well, for the most part).
My hat's off to you! That's talent!

Frnx Thnx

by Anonymous on 22. April 2010 - 19:18  (48205)

I just installed Juice the podcatcher and was very disappointed to find that half the links in the internal podcast directory are outdated and so are most of the links on their sourceforge website. Don't count on any support with this software as they seem to have abandoned it several years ago.

On the plus side the program seems to work fine otherwise. The docs say it runs in WIN2000 and XP. There is also a Mac version.

by philip on 22. April 2010 - 19:35  (48207)

@Anon: Thanks for the report on Juice.

Cheers ~ Philip

by Anonymous on 24. February 2010 - 22:42  (44425)

How about a lightweight RSS notifier to add some variety to the selections on this page?

http://www.feednotifier.com/

by philip on 25. February 2010 - 20:18  (44489)

Nice example of another way to access feeds.

Cheers

by irwanwr on 14. October 2009 - 10:31  (34621)

I already have FeedDemon on my PC. It looks good, thank you for the info. Kinda a confirmation for me.
So, anyone knows any good RSS Feed Reader in portable?
I am using one though. A portable RSS Feed Reader. After looking for quite long. Quite good I think. It's NFReader.

I'd like to know if anyone else know that one, and would also like to test it and review it.

Thank you.

by Anonymous on 4. October 2009 - 11:34  (33898)

Feed demon 3 has already been released and yes, it has advertisement in the free version, much like the release candidate before it.

by Dirk45 on 5. October 2009 - 14:57  (33976)

Another really cool rss reader to look into is the not heavily advertised program called "snarfer" yes, spelled just like that.

by Anupam on 6. October 2009 - 19:01  (34057)

Snarfer is a good one. When I was looking for RSS reader, I found Snarfer, and RSS Owl to be good ones. I use Google Reader now. It serves my purpose well.

Anupam

by philip on 6. October 2009 - 18:51  (34056)

Thanks Dirk. After a quick trial, I must say that Snarfer is a very nice RSS reader. More later...

Cheers

by Anonymous on 18. September 2009 - 1:48  (32843)

Very nice site!

by philip on 19. September 2009 - 1:58  (32942)

Thanks for your comment Anon. We do our best. :-)

Cheers

by Anonymous on 15. July 2009 - 11:36  (25136)

FeedDemon (latest RC2-3) is now adware, looks like Evernote with even more ads.

by philip on 19. July 2009 - 15:57  (25371)

I have consistently seen one single, unobtrusive text ad in the navigation column of RC2 and now RC3. Evidently YMV.

Cheers

by Anonymous on 19. July 2009 - 22:45  (25384)

Feeds are now getting ads too, FeedDemon is history for me. Been using GReader for a while and I like it very much but it is very, very slow caching new (or updating existing) feeds, I wish it provided real-time updates. Other than that is excellent, you're right.

by Anonymous on 15. June 2009 - 21:17  (23950)

I use google reader desktop gadget for the RSS feed, works really amazing, you should consider adding to the post!

Check out the google reader desktop gadget here:
http://www.gravityblue.com/2009/06/13/google-reader-for-desktop/

by philip on 16. June 2009 - 4:54  (23958)

Thanks for the comment Anon. Added note above.

Cheers

by Anonymous on 2. June 2009 - 8:47  (22867)

Greeting,

I would like to submit Kedoya.com for consideration to be put on your site . Following is the site information :

Site Name : Kedoya.com
Short Description : Kedoya is an online community based RSS reader . Kedoya provides all the features that will let you browse news or blogs in a very efficient and enjoyable manner.
Long Description :
Kedoya is an online community based RSS reader. Kedoya provides all the features that will let you browse news or blogs in a very efficient and enjoyable manner :

Some interesting things you can do in Kedoya include:

* Read news from your favorite news sites and blogs
* Personalization of news content
* Rate for the best entries
* Rate other users
* Comments on entries
* Interact with other users
* Flag and Tag Feed Items
* Export/Import your feeds
* Recommend stories to other users.
* And much more!

Thx!,
Andy

by philip on 2. June 2009 - 16:01  (22901)

Thank you for the input Andy.

Cheers

by Anonymous on 19. February 2009 - 8:55  (16325)

I use Klipfolio for a long time as a feed reader.