Google Reader Alternatives: RSS Readers For Thwarted Souls

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Welcome to the twentieth installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.

Header by Rory Midhani


Didja hear? Google reader is being deactivated on July 1st. The Official Google Blog says that “There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.” And then the internet melted. There’s even a petition asking Google to keep their popular reader alive. Or maybe you just want to move on and handle your grief by leaving a flower on the grave.

Also our team cried huge, internet-writer tears. In fact, Carmen said “MY ENTIRE LIFE IS ABOUT TO COLLAPSE.” For many of us, Google Reader is how we make our internet come to us! And we all read a lot of internet. If you haven’t used Google Reader, here’s a quick overview. Using RSS (stands for “Rich Site Summary,” but often referred to as “Really Simple Syndication”) is a way to keep tabs on websites with frequently updated content – like blogs! Like Autostraddle! You can add feeds that are front pages on websites, feeds for just specific tags. You don’t have to go to websites just to see what’s new – the new shows up all in one place. And the great part is that Google Reader isn’t the only RSS reader out there (though sometimes it may feel like it). We’ve spent the week trying to figure where we’re going to put our internet, and we figure that you have too. So we’ve decided to bring you our discussion, our top choice, and a few runners up. And then we want to know what you’re going to do come July 1st. So without further ado –

Our Top Choice: Feedly!

I asked the team what they were doing, expecting to get a lot of different answers. But I actually almost got one resounding answer. Feedly. You can get it for the web, iOS, Android and Kindle. For now, you can connect it to Google reader, but it stands totally independent too! Plus it’s easy to import everything. Carmen says: “I moved to feedly. It took 5 seconds to import and my life just got 10x more beautiful.” Laneia wins everything with her opinion on Feedly’s beauty: “YES feedly is so pretty. moved everything yesterday and i feel like i took a bath AND shaved my legs. like it’s that clean.” Feedly does let you choose a theme for it’s appearance, so it’s totally personalize-able (tech you can queer!), and all the themes are nice and plain, so the content is really the star of the show. Kristen has a very unique take on Feedly – she mainly used Google Reader to organize Google News alerts. Which Feedly does! “I’m firmly on the Feedly bandwagon since you can add a Google Alert in two clicks. I am all simple when it comes to tech.” And guys, full disclosure. I just got a Feedly account and stopped writing this article for like an hour while I rediscovered all the things I had meant to read this week. It was gorgeous.

Some Other Options!

Okay, so because all of us are so on board with Feedly, I still wanted to give you some more options so it wouldn’t be such a monopost. Here’s a round up of all the round ups that the internet gave birth to this week. I give you a list of lists of Google Reader replacements.

Which Google Reader Replacement Will You Use? MIT Technology Review

8 Google Reader Replacements. Extreme Tech

The Best Google Reader Replacements. Gizmag

Digg To Build Google Reader Replacement. Engadget

10 Replacements for Google Reader. Social Times

A Real Simple Solution to the Death of Google Reader. Copyblogger

So what are your RSS feels? Are you guys jumping to something different? Subscribing via email? How are you queering your RSS feeds?

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. I started using Feedly about a year ago, mainly so I could get my Google Reader feeds on my phone. The Feedly Android app is excellent.

    I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds. Autostraddle, Advocate, Washington Blade, Maddowblog, ThinkProgress, Daily Dish, Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman, Marginal Revolution, TED, Joe My God, Feast of Fun, FiveThirtyEight, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, BoingBoing, Wired, Slashdot, Velvetpark, Effing Dykes, GOOD, Kottke, and The Hill. And a few others.

  2. Oh Autostraddle, you always know what’s in my heart. I’m lost without my Reader.

    But Feedly wants access to “Your data on all websites, Your tabs and browsing activity” and hoo boy I am not going to give them that.

    • I agree — software that uses data mining does not sit well with me either. I switched to DuckDuckGo for my search engine to avoid Google’s data mining of my online search data.

      Anyone have an RSS reader that at least allows users to activate privacy settings?

    • I’m pretty sure that’s the standard warning that comes up when you are about to install any chrome app though, so i don’t think it’s something to be too concerned about? (then again i know very little about computers)

    • From Google regarding the permission for your data on all websites: “Often, this kind of item needs to see all pages so that it can perform a limited task such as looking for RSS feeds that you might want to subscribe to.”

      I don’t know if that makes you feel any better or not, but there is a reason for why they have that permission.

      • But why is Feedly a browser extension AT ALL? I don’t need to install a Facebook add-on in order to use Facebook, and I didn’t need to install a gReader “app” in order to use that, either… but in order to see anything on I’ve got to use an extension that can keep tabs on all my browsing (pun intended) — something seems more than a little bit off about that.

    • It is a web app, not a website.

      Some of the features include sharing pages you have open in your browser, bookmarking the current page to read later in Feedly, and subscribing to the current site you have open in your browser. In order for those features to work, it needs the url data.

      • Except that’s not all they do. They data mine every page you look at and every click. If you care about privacy, Feedly is about the worst offender that exists.

  3. Feedly is beautiful! Just moved there this morning and have been decorating and restyling all day. I don’t think I’ll miss Google Reader much.

  4. Currently looking at The Old Reader and NetVibes as possible replacements.

    I’m importing my subscriptions into The Old Reader right now – I’ve moved from about 16000 to 4000 in their queue overnight, so it might be imported by tomorrow. Doesn’t have something to click on to view the post, on the original site. This is crucial, since my workflow involves middle-clicking a bunch of stuff to open it in background tabs, and then going to read it.

    NetVibes is really, really slow. Seems ok so far, after configuring it to use list view instead of widgets. Have to go back to widget view to clear out the default feeds that you can’t opt out of, though.

    • i can’t figure out how to move my things to The Old Reader — downloading my subscriptions from google reader just took me to a google takeout page where i see an icon representing said downloads, but there’s no way i can figure out to make it into an actual file that i can then upload to old reader.

      • From Google Takeout, if you’ve clicked the “Create Archive” button at the bottom of the page, it should take you to the “Downloads” section with any Takeout archives you’ve created (or you can just click on the “Downloads” link at the top, to the right of “All of your data” and “Choose services.”)

        Each of the archives you’ve created should have a button on the right to download them, and the filename (which is probably your email address with “” on the end) just beside the button… and clicking that will give you a zip file with several items in it. The one you want for The Old Reader is “subscriptions.xml” and The Old Reader’s import section will let you upload that file (after, obviously, waiting in the near-endless queue!)

        Hope that helps!

  5. I’m sticking with gReader until we get further to the July 1 cutoff date. So many current readers sync with Google or work with it in some way, and it should be interesting to see what kinds of solutions they come up with to deal with the deactivation.

    I definitely understand the desire to hop to an alternative right now, but I’m going to take these last few months and really try to spend some quality time with gReader while it’s still possible. I also may or may not be getting sentimental about a web app.

  6. My dad is super sad about this development. I mostly use Twitter to find and follow stories so I trained him on that but admittedly it’s not nearly as organized as RSS feeds.

  7. so you guys, google reader has a secret feature that is secretly my favorite and i will miss and don’t know what to do without — if you subscribed to a blog with a full RSS feed and that blog shuts down and erases itself, if you don’t then un-subscribe from that blog, google reader keeps a full archive of everything that blog has ever written, unavailable elsewhere on the internet. i don’t know what to do to replace THAT.

    • If you can’t export your existing Google Reader cache into another reader, as a last resort you should be able to export all your ghost blogs to an xml file.

      Just construct a URL of this format and paste it into your address bar:

      As long as you (or someone) have subscribed to and viewed the posts at some point in time, Google should have cached it, and the data will be available this way, allegedly up to 5000 posts-per-feed. I can’t think of any undead blogs to try, but it definitely works with active stuff.

      So to see the last 100 Autostraddle RSS entries:

      Furthermore, you can convert summary RSS feeds into full RSS feeds using Full Text RSS Feed Builder.

      You can use that feed to get an xml file containing the full content of the last 100 AS posts with this:

      Finally, “all” you need to do to reconstruct posts is grab the content of the xml summary tags and save it to an html page. Obvs it will look ugly as fuck because there’s no CSS info.

    • Yeah I like that too. Though I tend to feel guilty how whenever someone posts something and quickly takes it down because they realize they shouldn’t have said it, I automatically retain a copy of it anyway, and often read it for the first time after it has been taken down and before I learn that it had been taken down. Then I feel like I just accidentally spied on someones private thoughts, or stared at them during an embarrassing emotional moment or whatever.

      But this isn’t unique to google reader, this is a phenomenon of web feeds in general. You can have other feed readers retain copies of posts from here on out. Though maybe you were just complaining about how you are losing the archive that currently only exist in google reader, because yeah that sucks.

  8. The Old Reader is what I’m using for the moment… I broke down and manually added my 60+ feeds by opening the “subscriptions.xml” from gReader in a text editor and copy/pasting each one into the “Add a subscription” box. It’s… well, it’s okay-ish for now… I’d like to be able to adjust the size of the feed list on the left, since it’s far wider than any of my feed titles, and give that space to the articles themselves.

    As Feedly goes, I can’t understand how it’s possible that I need to install a browser addon in order to view a web site. I tried getting it running in Firefox, and after installing it, simply looking at shows all my feeds, lets me click one button and import from Google… but as soon as I disable the extension, the same website shows nothing at all. Same concerns about data mining and security that others have mentioned here.

    And where I keep hearing praise for Feedly being “beautiful” and “pretty” and its “customizable themes” — I’d much prefer function over flashy, fancy, form… I want to read articles from my RSS feeds, not have eye-catching colors and animated bouncy page transitions to obscure and distract from the actual content!

    But then, I still use Windows XP with the “Classic” theme, so maybe that’s just me being the typical oddity holdout?

  9. I’m hoping Digg can come up with something good. Every other RSS reader I’ve looked at either looks, feels, and/or acts wrong.

  10. I switched to feedly about an hour after I saw the news about Google Reader and I love it. I’m still getting used to the setup but so far it’s been a seamless transfer and they have it set up so that there shouldn’t be any issues once Google Reader goes away in July.

  11. Thank you for the heads up on this. First i’ve heard of it. I basically quit google reader because it was so piss poor on my ipad. The mobile reader of iOS was so shitty google should be embarrassed. Their youtube app also sucks. Thanks for the reader suggestions.

  12. I checked out Feedly, but It’s not for me, sadly. I’m super picky about how I want my articles to display, and none of their options fit me. I’ll check out some of the others, though.

  13. I stopped using google reader a few months ago because of privacy reasons. I held out on using google (and other similar) products for many years for that reason until a few years ago when I was convinced to switch to them. Now I regret it so I’m working on switching away.

    For feeds I’ve been using Tiny Tiny RSS (running on a raspberry pi). It works for me in all the ways that google reader did and more. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s in the position to use it.

    • tried it- they only let you have like 12 free subscriptions, which wasn’t clear from the get-go at all. And I was like NOPE.

  14. I couldn’t agree more – +1 for Feedly! I actually read this post on Feedly, so yes, I am so for it. Yay!

  15. i’m sorry but feedly has made my laptop die a sudden frozen death 3 times, twice a few days ago and once just then so nope, literally can’t do it. i like the android app though.

  16. Use newsblur! It’s fabulously non-corporate, which means that it”s not going to ask for your browsing data or anything like that. It’s a one-man startup, so while users jumped from 50k to 110k in the past week, he had to limit new subscribers to only 12 feeds. Now that everything is settled the free limit is back to 64.

    (It’s also open-source, which doesn’t mean much for those of us who don’t code and run our own servers, but +1 for freedom of information!)

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