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I depend on my RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds every day, throughout the day to keep me up on what's going on in the world. With RSS I don't have to constantly visits hundreds of websites every day. When one of the websites or blogs I follow posts something new, I see the new article/post in my RSS reader. Up until last week I was using Apple Mail as my RSS reader of choice. I liked the way Mail would bring in the RSS posts in the form of individual email messages (although they weren't really emails). So they would come in and appear in my "Unread Mail" Smart Mailbox just like all my other emails. I could just use the arrow and delete keys to quickly scan for for any interesting tidbits and then move on. Like I said, this has worked for me for the last couple of years. However, I recently deleted all of my RSS feeds in Mail. I did this on purpose! I finally gave up on using Mail as an RSS reader for one simple reason. There's no connection to Apple's mobile devices. I now carry both an iPhone AND an iPad when I travel.

I have a GREAT RSS reader on the iPhone called ByLine (I love this App!) Although I can read my favorite RSS feeds with ByLine, ByLine syncs with Google Reader not with Apple Mail. So the problem would always be if I read my RSS feeds in one place, say my MacBook Pro and then went out with my iPhone, ByLine would still show hundreds of RSS feeds as UNREAD. I would then have to use the "Mark All As Read" feature after making sure I had read all the new ones.Then the same problem would exist when I got back to my computer. Apple Mail would bring in all the new feeds/posts since the last time it checked and I'd have to delete dozens or hundreds of individual messages that I already saw while I was out. 


I couldn't take it any more!

I finally reached a limit and said enough is enough. I use IMAP email for this very reason. If I read an email on one device, I don't want to have to read it or mark it as read again on another device. I wanted this same convenience with RSS as well. So I started using Google Reader in my web browser on my Mac instead. As I scroll down the page of "All Items" they are automatically marked as "read." If I see something that I want to really dive into, I just click the link to open that article on the site it comes from, up in a new window. The next time I fire up ByLine, the articles that were "read' on my Mac are NOT brought down into ByLine. If there are no new items then ByLine will remain empty and vice versa. I can view any new items in ByLine while I'm on the go and they will be marked as read and not appear when I get back to my computer. ByLine caches the feeds too, so i can fire it up before getting on a plane and cache all the feeds that have new posts, read them on the plane and then hit the sync button when I land to automatically mark them as read and bring down any new ones that happened while I was in the air. Also as a side benefit, I now only have "real emails" in Mail. So my inbox doesn't seem so daunting each day when I wake up. Although I'm sure there are probably some GREAT Google Reader Apps for the Mac, I'm fine with using the web browser version  to view my feeds there. Of course any new feeds I add to Google Reader are automatically seen by ByLine since ByLine logs into your Google Account.  ByLine works great on the iPhone and I hope they come out with a Native iPad version soon. In the meantime Google Reader looks and works great in Safari on the iPad.  If you're wanting something slicker and native to the iPad right NOW, check out MobileRSS HD for Google RSS Reader. For now I'm in RSS heaven!

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7 Responses to Apple Mail vs. Google Reader for RSS

  1. Brad says:

    Yes I agree, it is great to have your RSS feeds in sync no matter where you read them. One Mac desktop product i just started using recently is NetNewsWire, which also syncs with Google Reader for RSS. worth taking a look at for the desktop, and it will still let you stay in sync no matter where you read your RSS feeds.

  2. I have been using Google Reader sense the demise of Newsgator as a public web based, RSS client a few years ago. I had used them for about seven years.

    Newsgator had a wonderful web interface. I find Google’s web interface to be poorly laid out and way to busy by comparison. I use Newsgator’s Mac client NetNewswire which syncs automatically with Google Reader’s feeds and has, to my eyes, a far superior user interface. They also have a nice Windows client called FeedDaemon. Both clients are free with small advertisements. For a small fee you can get both clients ad free. Give NetNewswire a try.

  3. Bill Cole says:

    Make that 3 votes for NetNewsWire.
    NNW has evolved into an alternative WebKit-based browser with a RSS focus. Its most distinctive features are its support for custom style sheets for RSS articles and a deep collection of choices in how article lists are assembled and presented. Those make NNW especially ideal for old geezers like me who have aging eyes and entrenched filtering and reading habits (i.e. spoiled by tools like Eudora and NewsWatcher for 2 decades…)

  4. I forgot to mention that one cool feature of NetNewswire is than you can send an article directly from the News menu in NetNewswire to Instapaper where you can read it later.

  5. studiomondeo says:

    NetNewsWire for Mac OS and iOS. +1
    Google Reader if, for some reason, you are without access to your Mac or iPhone.

  6. Destiny says:

    I have been asking this question since the dawn of the MobileMe cloud. It doesn’t seem like it would be that complicated. Duplicate the Mail app and switcheroony the messages for feeds. Presto!