Are you someone who is fascinated by the concept of RSS feeds? Do you constantly find yourself saying that RSS is the best thing invented since DVDs? Then Google has something in store for you!
Google launched a Web based Ajax RSS reader late last year, named Google Reader. To access the reader, you need to have your Google account e-mail and password handy. If you don’t have a Google account, you can create one here. At first look, the reader is very pleasing to the eye, supplemented by the fact that it’s extremely easy to use for beginners.
The Google Reader not only automatically updates new entries and news from your favorite Web sites, but it also sorts the feeds based on what’s more relevant to you. Apart from these, it also lets you categorize what you read with the help of stars and labels (just like you do in Gmail!) You also have the functionality to share what you are reading with your friends by e-mail or by blogging it directly from the reader.
How to Add Feeds:
If you have an RSS reader installed on your computer (read this tip again for help on that), you can import all the feeds to the Google reader by uploading the OPML file on the server.
This works really well when you have a lot of feeds to add. If you want to add a few feeds or if you find a new feed you want to add, just click the “add a feed” link.
Once all of the feeds are loaded, navigating around them and reading them is just a walk in the park.
You can click the links in the left column and they will quickly display in the right panel. From the drop down menu on the top right corner, you can take care of some different things such as unsubscribing from the feed, e-mailing it to a friend or even blogging a certain feed.
Now, here comes a very useful function of the Google Reader. Let’s say you have a lot of feeds and you wish to divide them into different categories. How do you do it?
Labels are the simple solution. You can label items from your feeds to group them together under a common section. This helps keep track of everything better. To label an item, click on the Edit option toward the bottom of the feed.
Now, in the space provided, type in the name of your label and click Save. Simple, isn’t it?!
To access the different feeds that you have grouped under a particular label, just click on the Label drop down menu on the top bar.
Once you select a label, only the items from that particular group will be displayed. Similarly, you can label entire feed subscriptions too. To do that, click Edit Subscriptions at the top of the page and then click the Edit link next to the subscription you want to label.
Again, in the provided space, enter the name of a new or an existing label and click Save. Once you select a particular label, all of the feed subscriptions attached to that label will be displayed. You can also star an item by clicking the star next to it in the reading list. Click Starred at the top of the page to view all your starred items.
You can also share your feeds with your friends and family (or whoever you’d like to share them with!)
Sharing your feed items is literally a click away in Google Reader. When you find a particular item that you want to share with other people, click on the top right corner drop down menu link that says “Gmail This!” A new Gmail window will open and all you have to do is enter the e-mail address of the person you want to send it to. Similarly, if you intend to blog an item on your blog, you can click on “Blog This!” and a new blogger window will open where you can sign into your blogger account and create a new post on your blog with the feed item as your content.
And lastly, what is a Google service without having some sort of search functionality built in, right? Yes, the tradition continues with Google Reader. You can search for new feeds that interest you from a little search box that Google has provided at the top of the page.
Also, of course, when you’re searching for new content, the standard Google search rules apply. So, go ahead and give it a spin. It’s surely bound to make online reading a much better experience!
~ Yogesh Bakshi