Google Reader is Dead. Here’s What You Need to Replace it.

I woke up this morning, grabbed my iPhone to check the news in Reeder — which is powered by my Google Reader account — only to find at the very top that Google is shutting down Google Reader, for good, on July 1, 2013. They said it’s because too few people use it, which is rather ironic since most of us heard the news via articles synced in Google Reader.

Of course, it’s been a rumor for some time that Google Reader might be the next Google service to hit the chopping block, but it’s not just a rumor this time. Rather, is the first thing the Google Reader team has posted on their blog since 2011. That should, in itself, tell part of the story. And rather than beating around the bush about it being shut down, Google Reader will now warn you itself, rather starkly, that it’s going away. It’s really, really real this time.

That’s terrible news, since most RSS apps for desktops and phones are powered by Google Reader, and Google’s service was so popular that it practically pushed all alternatives out of the market. FeedDemon has already announced that it’s being killed as well, since it’s powered by Google Reader sync, even though years back it had its own sync engine. Google pushed most other RSS readers out of the market, and is now killing their own RSS reader app. It’s not a good day for RSS, a service that’s already been tough enough to convince people to use, and Google+ isn’t a good alternate unlike what Google apparently thinks according to a former Google Reader product manager.

So what do you do? Quit subscribing to RSS feeds? Nope. I sure won’t, and we sure hope all of our RSS subscribers here won’t, either. The good news is, there’s a ton of other great RSS services out there today, ones that have come online in the past few years or held on even though Google Reader remained dominant.Here’s all the info you’ll need to find a new service and get your feeds moved to it, pronto, before your Google Reader subscriptions are lost.

First Things First: Export Your Google Reader Subscriptions

The first thing you really should do, though, is export your Google Reader subscriptions so you’ll be able to import them into the next RSS reader app you use. Google’s done a fairly good job in recent years of letting you export your data from their services via Google Takeout, and Google Reader’s no exception. It’ll let you export the OPML file of your subscriptions, as well as json files of your starred and shared posts, and more. Just head over to https://www.google.com/takeout/#custom:reader, select Create Archive, then download the file when it’s finished (which oddly will require you to sign in a second time). Now, you can save that somewhere save, and extract the zip archive to get all of your export files.

Export your Google Reader subscriptions

The most important file in that archive will be the subscriptions.xml file, which is your OPML file with all of your subscriptions that you’ll want to import into your new RSS reader app. And, if you’ve organized everything into folders, they’ll be preserved in that file, too. The other files might not look as useful at first, but if you’ve starred articles you love over the years, you’ve likely resorted to your starred list from time to time to re-find an article. You can open the starred.json file in a text editor, but that’s not a very fun way to find what you need.

Use Pinboard to Save Your Starred and Shared Articles

If you already use Pinboard to save your bookmarks online, though, then you’re in luck, since Pinboard can import your Google Reader starred sites file directly. Just login to your account, head to the Import section in Settings, then select your starred.json file to import. Seconds later, your bookmarks will all be imported as links from Google, which gives you an easy way to see just your starred pages from Google Reader. You can do the same with your shared articles’ list to archive them to Pinboard.

My starred articles from Google Reader, in Pinboard

There are other online bookmarking tools that can import, so you’ll have to check if your favorite service will import the .json exports from Google Reader. Or, just use Pinboard; it works great.

Now, Get a New RSS Reader App

Now, all you need to do is to get a new way to subscribe to RSS feeds, and move your Google Reader subscriptions over. There’s been a ton of talk online already of new services that’ll be coming out for RSS reading, but you need something today that works great and that isn’t likely to be shut down anytime soon. And if you’re a Google Reader user, you likely want something that works like Google Reader, something that’ll let you read all of your RSS feeds, and not just simply turn the most popular articles into a digital newspaper or something, like most new news apps these days do.

If you’re wanting more of a traditional RSS reader app — perhaps with new features, too, but mainly something that can directly replace Google Reader — here’s the apps you should consider, with some info about each one to help you decide. They’re all ones our team has really used this year, not just a random list of RSS apps that could possibly work, so you really should find the perfect app for you here.

NewsBlur

One of the best — and most mentioned online today — new RSS reader apps is NewsBlur. It’s packed with features, letting you subscribe to all of your favorite sites and see their feed entries as an RSS feed, or in an Instapaper-like text view of the full article. Or, you can even browse through the stories in your RSS list right on the original site itself inside of NewsBlur. It’s then got the social features you want, and an algorithm to help surface the stuff you’ll find most interesting. Best of all, it’s a freemium service, so you can get started for free but then pay a dollar a month to help make sure it’ll keep being developed and won’t disappear overnight like Google Reader.

Price: Free for up to 64 site subscriptions; $1/month for premium account with unlimited subscriptions

Web.AppStorm Review: Intelligently Browse RSS Feeds With NewsBlur

Skimr

If you always found Google Reader a bit too complex, and didn’t really want something that’d make you feel required to read every single article that came in, then Skimr might be the app you need. It gives you a list of your subscriptions, so you can read each site’s feed entries individually without an inbox showing how behind you are. It’s a really nice solution for RSS reading, and since it now lets you import your OPML file, it just might be the perfect app to move to if you’re looking to simplify things.

Price: Free

Web.AppStorm Review: Skimr: A Slick and Simple RSS Reader

Fever°

With Google Reader getting shut down, you don’t feel like you can trust any online services. That’s definitely understandable. In that case, Fever might be the best option for you. It’s a self-hosted RSS reader app that you’ll run on your own server or hosting account, so it’ll be online as long as you keep your server running. And don’t get scared off by it being a self-hosted tool: it’s really simple to install, and will take little more than uploading 4 files via FTP, adding a MySQL database, and creating an account.

It’s not in the most active development right now, as Shaun Inman, its creator, has a number of projects he’s working on, but even still, it works great today, has gotten several minor updates in the past few months, and is what I personally just switched to today. I was amazed how easy it was to switch to, and only wish I’d followed our former editor Jarel’s lead to switch to Fever years back. It’s the more geeky option, but it’s sure a nice one.

Price: $30 one-time fee, plus your own hosting (essentially free if you have a shared hosting account or a VPS for your own site already)

Web.AppStorm Review + Setup Tutorial: Self-Hosted Temperature Based RSS Reader: Fever°

Feedly

There’s something to say for the new, iPad-styled news reading apps: they look much more fun and inviting than the Google Reader inbox-style list of RSS feed entries. Problem is, most of them don’t show you all of your subscriptions, instead only showing you the most popular articles from a variety of sources. Feedly’s a nice mix of the two, letting you subscribe to topics or just follow your own RSS feeds, all in a nice, modern news app interface. Even better, they’re building a clone of the Google Reader API, so you can just sign in with your Google Reader account today and they’ll automatically get all of your subscriptions moved over.

Price: Free

Web.AppStorm Review: Feedly: The Customizable News Reader For the Web

The Old Reader

I get it: you just want the old Google reader back. If so, then The Old Reader is a great new service you should definitely try out. It’s laid out much like Google Reader, with similar keyboard shortcuts and a built-in basic sharing network that’s reminiscent of the old sharing options in Google Reader before Google+ took over. It lets you sign in with your Google account, though oddly doesn’t automatically import your Google Reader subscriptions. But don’t worry: you can still import your OPML export file, though you might have to wait a bit as their servers look like they’re getting hit hard with new users right now.

Price: Free

Finally, Put RSS to Good Use

One final thing in closing. Most people never started using Google Reader, or any other RSS reader, because they found them too complex and got overwhelmed when they saw how many unread articles they had. Some of the apps I mentioned above, like Fever, give you ways around that, but for the most part, if you’re using a RSS app to subscribe directly to sites, you’ll have the same problem.

Here’s a few tips. First, don’t subscribe to too many sites. Just follow the ones you really, really want to read most things they say. Then, feel free to browse through the headlines. You don’t have to read every article in full, unless you want to. Finally, feel free to just clear out your inbox from time to time if you get overloaded. If it’s old, it likely doesn’t matter anyhow.

That’ll help you subscribe to the sites you love, and never miss updates like you would just by following the sites on Twitter or Facebook, but still should keep you from getting too overwhelmed with RSS. And if you’ve got any more questions, we’re here for you. Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll try to help out as you’re moving away from Google Reader, or trying out RSS reading for the first time.

Some Updates:

  • If you use Flipboard on your tablet or smartphone, you can sign in with your Google Reader account through Flipboard and they’ll import all of your RSS feeds and keep them synced even after Google Reader gets shut down. More info on their blog.
  • Another self-hosted RSS reader app — this time, that’s free — is Tiny Tiny RSS. I haven’t actually tried it out, but it looks much like Google Reader used to.
  • Another new online feed reader, more on the lines of Feedly, is Prismatic. They reached out to us on Twitter to let us know that their app also supports full RSS subscribing, as well as having interest-based topics to subscribe to. Looks like another interesting option to try out — again, one I haven’t tried yet.


  • http://twitter.com/jelleverkleij Jelle

    And if you want your multiple RSS feeds in nice blocks with widgets on one page use http://www.netvibes.com/en , there is also a ‘river’ view.

    • Leonick

      River view? Did you mean to say reader view?

      Anyway, netvibes does have a reader view that looks pretty much like google reader. I’ve been using netvibes for quite a while myself, one thing I really like about it is how instead of showing the article summary from the feed when I click an item it can show the article on the original page right there in the reader, it’s become a must have feature for me with any reader.

      Sure hope the death of google reader will lead to some innovation and great new readers, at the moments there a very few options and even fewer which are any good.

  • Ido

    Thanks for this article. Google Reader has been part of my daily routine for quite a while now. I’m surprised it’s shutting down.

  • http://rssphere.com/ GREGORY

    It’s that simple to add breaking news targeted by keywords to your site with RSSPhere News Builder.

    In 5 minutes your website could be displaying fresh RSS News Feeds from around the web.

  • http://kevinlorenz.com/blog verpixelt

    Is there a way to still use Reeder.app?

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      On the iPhone, Reeder works with Fever. On the Mac and iPad, there’s no other options for now, though the Reeder team has already posted on Twitter that Reeder won’t die with Google Reader. That likely means it’ll either get support for checking RSS feeds natively, or they’re adding their own RSS service, or at the very least adding Fever support to the Mac and iPad versions.

  • http://iconoclasm-design.de iconoclasm

    Thank you for the article. Is there an App or solution thats still works with Flipboard on iPad? I got Reeder an Flipboard on my iPad but i use more often Flipboard.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Actually, the Flipboard team just announced that they’ll import your Google Reader subscriptions and keep them synced even after Google Reader is shut down. That means, if want to move your Google Reader feeds into Flipboard, just sign in with Google Reader inside Flipboard, and it’ll get everything imported and moved over. Alternately, going forward, you can subscribe to individual RSS feeds in Flipboard by entering the site’s RSS feed link in the Flipboard search box.

  • Tara S

    Thanks for the Pinboard tip!

  • Dainty

    Thank you for going through the trouble of linking here from your older article ^^ That’s the one I was looking at earlier today, and when I reloaded the page and that little message popped up saying “hey, look at this instead!” I thought it was very thoughtful, especially since this article is excellent and exactly what I needed.

    I think I’m going with Feedly. I tried it briefly when I was an RSS newbie – before deciding on Google Reader – and found it a little too overwhelming/cluttered at the time, but hopefully after having used Reader for a couple of years it’ll feel more intuitive.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      You’re welcome … glad to help!

  • Ed

    You can also check this list : http://list.ly/list/33u-google-reader-alternatives-crowdsourced-list
    Can be a good way to find an alternative

  • Will

    I didn’t realise that NetNewsWire could be used as a standalone RSS reader without Google Reader Sync. I just tried it, and it seems to work perfectly fine. So it seems most NetNewsWire users should be able to continue as-per-normal beyond the 1st July cut-off. Only exception being that syncing of RSS feeds between computers would be lost (if that is something you currently use). But perhaps someone will come up with an option in the meantime using DropBox to sync feeds if required?

    I’m a little surprised to see Google Reader getting axed. I don’t spend 8 hours a day on Twitter or Facebook to get my news! RSS remains absolutely brilliant for skimming through a list of daily news articles, and clicking on the most interesting ones. But my guess is that a high majority of internet users have never subscribed to an RSS feed and have no idea what it is or how it works. So it probably boils-down to numbers, and Google most likely has better methods to snoop on us now!

  • http://www.festivalhat.com Samuel

    Skimr only lets you have 12 subscriptions, not 64.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      The front page, when listing the feature differences, says 64…

      • http://skimr.co Petr Kral

        Hi, Petr from Skimr here. You can add as many subscriptions and you like. You can even import your OMPL file. Your subscriptions will then appear on the homepage.

  • http://itechbook.net iTechbook

    its a really bad news for me, me use google reader more than facebook because I am blogger and its give latest info of recent posts, of my fav blogs :(

  • Abby Ladybug

    The Pinboard suggestion is not as described. The export in GReader goes through Takeout first. You can’t make selections of certain files. Instead, you just get a full Greader zip file. When you do the import part in Pinboard, you have to go to the unzipped file on your local computer and select the files you want to import into Pinboard.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      That’s how it worked for me too, and what I was trying to describe. Sorry it wasn’t clear enough!

  • Bullgo

    Newsblur is an excellent alternative to Google Reader for RSS junkies. I have given up on RSS altogether though, since I find the original sites have a good enough design to be browsed manually and I found myself wasting more time refreshing Google Reader for content then I would be otherwise.

  • aj

    I just want to point out that I signed up for a Newsblur account today (March 14, 2013) and the free version only allows 12 subscriptions, not the 64 mentioned in this article.

  • KS

    +1 for Netvibes!

  • http://www.conversationblog.com Philippe Borremans

    I use Google Reader also as an archive of articles… When I am looking for latest research and articles on a certain topic I just search for them in my (huge) collection of RSS feeds. Does any of the solutions you mention here offer the same functionality (the Google Search Engine for RSS content) ?

    • http://themutedpitch.com Jason Freake

      I’m with you on this one. I do the same thing. I don’t want a feed reader that actively only grabs the 10 latest items when I go to view the feed, I want one that is always checking the feeds and archives them for later viewing/searching.

    • ScottMGS

      This! I’d also like to know if any of the alternatives import not just starred articles but the tags I’ve been adding to Reader items for *years*. Feedly doesn’t appear to but I’ve only been using it since last night.

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  • http://spigotdesign.com/ Bryan Hoffman

    Fever° is so good I haven’t spent a single moment in the last few years trying to find something better.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      I only wish I’d switched sooner.

  • Patrick

    Such an irony that I read this article via Google Reader.
    Thank you for this article but News Blur is not a good alternative. I can only use 12 of my 76 subscriptions? Im trying feedly now. It seems like this is one alternative which is free and got the same functionalities. Thank you for this post.

    It’s really a shame that Google kills his best application…

  • http://ohnostudio.com Libby

    Matthew Guay – Thank you so much for the personal reply via email. Yes, I knew the other article was old. I just wanted to bring your attention to what happened.

    A blogger myself, I sometimes ask myself how long that youtube video I linked in 2011 will be around. In the not too distant future, “web decay” will be an issue for sure. Already happened to me with a hobby blog I had where I had linked some instructional videos (they were the Best!), but the woman who made them took them down and closed all of her social media accounts due to harassment. Some stupid people out there were mocking her kids.

    Anyway, thanks again,

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Very good points. That’s why I switched to Fever: I want to own as many of my services as possible. It’s getting a bit crazy.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ Tim Chastain

    I use the Google reader at least twice a day, and I saw the notice yesterday. I had an old Yahoo account, so I moved my feeds there–I find that I actually like it better than Google. I am not a techie, so let me know if this is a bad choice for some reason.

    Thanks for the article!

  • Doug

    Thanks for this great article! I am an avid Google Reader user as well and I was shocked when I saw that little pop-up box this morning. After an hour of panicking and searching for alternatives, I’ve stumbled upon this article. Right now I’m working with Feedly and I’m very impressed. I didn’t have to do anything, other than sign in with my own Google account and they’ve imported all of my RSS-feeds (even the starred items). I like the design, but takes some time to get used to it (the easy and clean navigation from Google Reader was very intuitive).

  • http://www.pensandodesign.blog.br Heric Dehon

    Man… that’s sad. I’ve tried some suggested readers. It’s not that way.

    Prismatic is the worst.
    It doesn’t allow you to close your account. Can you belive that? :(

    Feedly isn’t a full online reader.
    You need to install an app for Chrome. :(

    The Old Reader really looks the best option so far. I’ll try these one.

    • http://www.pensandodesign.blog.br Heric Dehon

      By the way…

      Thanks for the article. Really nice!

      • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

        You’re welcome!

  • https://feedbin.me Ben Ubois

    Here’s another good option: https://feedbin.me I’m the developer of Feedbin and I think you’ll like it.

    • http://pauljmartinez.com/ Paul J. Martinez

      +1 for https://feedbin.me/ I work together with the developer and have been watching his progress along the way. I made the switch to FeedBin right after it launched and I like using the web interface much more than Google’s.

    • http://www.bubobox.com Wim Mostmans (@Sitebase)

      Looks nice man!

    • Lauler

      $2 every month ! When there are others *free* alternatives like Feedly.
      Come on ! Dont be so greedy :s

  • Scott Rouse

    Is Feedly safe enough to connect it with my Google account? I don’t want somebody to hack them and get my password.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Apps like this login via OAuth, so the app itself actually doesn’t store your Google login credentials. You should be safe :)

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  • http://unsalkorkmaz.com Ünsal Korkmaz

    Why not Yandex?
    I explained how you move to Yandex:
    http://unsalkorkmaz.com/google-reader-alternative-yandex/

  • http://www.bubobox.com Wim Mostmans (@Sitebase)

    Sad to see that such a great service getting kicked. Especially if you use it every day like me and a lot of other people.

  • Tim

    Can’t wait until they finally cancel Google+. It will happen.

  • http://rssident.com Rssident

    Try http://rssident.com

    It’s a feed reader and RSS search engine.

    Still in under development but basics work.

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  • http://www.xwhosting.com/ Brandon Kernell

    I have been using Tiny Tiny RSS for a while now and absolutely love it, great alternative to Google Reader. I currently have it installed and running on my Amahi server and couldnt be happier. Well worth a try, especially if you are into self hosted apps.

  • Enzo

    I’ve been using Newsrack excellent RSS client on the AppStore https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/newsrack/id415816908?mt=12

  • Ethan

    I see that you added Tiny Tiny RSS (tt-rss) to your update section. I have been using tt-rss for a while now and would recommend it to anyone looking to host their own.

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  • http://www.marketstomper.com Market Stomper

    Hey Matt

    Thanks for the info, I’m really gutted that Google Reader is closing down, we have several accounts in our business that tracks over 300 websites. I like the Google Reader interface more than anything.

    I’ve looked a quite a few free and paid RSS services, I’m gonna give the old reader a try and see what that is like.

    I also like Feebin.me that looks good.

    Cheers

    Danny Howard

  • Monique

    I use Pinterest and Springboard alot. So the features I loved the most on Google Reader are the Next Bookmark and the Subscribe button. The Next allows me to flip through my subscriptions easily, but because it is the actual site it is easy to Pin It or Spring It. The Subscribe button made it quick to add a new site to my feed. I rarely go into the actual Google Reader site itself.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a replacement with these features?

    Thanks,
    Monique

    • teaguehopkins

      Hey Monique,
      We’re going to miss Next Bookmarks too, so we’re working on Nextily.com to provide that functionality. I’d love to talk with you about how you use it!
      Cheers,
      Teague

  • http://deanwormald.com Dean

    Installed and started using Tiny Tiny RSS. Was easy to get it up and running on my own server. It’s very minimal and compact looking but has a good feature set similar to Google Reader.

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  • neodem

    I created a java app to convert the starred.json to a Rss 2.0 feed. Enjoy : https://github.com/neodem/starman

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