Somewhere around seven or eight years ago I read an article published by aunt Tera on Mac360 extolling the virtues of RSS readers.
Back in the day I would have been challenged to spell RSS let alone tell you what it did and why it was so good. Essentially, RSS is a relatively old technology, often called Really Simple Syndication which allows web sites to publish headlines and summary (or an entire article) to be subscribed using an RSS reader.
Almost every website of substance has an RSS subscription and both Mac and Windows PC users have dozens of standalone RSS readers available from free to a few dollars. The largest of the subscription services was Google Reader which was recently shut down by the search giant. Why? RSS doesn’t make much money.
That doesn’t change the fact that a dedicated, standalone RSS reader with subscriptions to all your favorite web sites may be the most useful, most time saving app on your Mac. If you want to try out a bunch of RSS readers, open the Mac App Store, search for ‘RSS’ and find one you like. I have a few favorites including the attractive ReadKit, which costs a few dollars.
As RSS readers go, ReadKit is mature, straightforward, and a bit typical. Subscriptions are listed in the left Sidebar, headlines and summary are displayed in the center column, while an entire article is reserved for the larger column on the right.
Unlike many RSS readers, ReadKit has a few extras which set it apart, including offline reading, and read it later services including Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability.
The interface is customizable and switching between bare bones content and the full article is merely a click. Smart folders make it easy to add many RSS subscriptions to ReadKit and store them in folders organized however you need. Bookmarks can be shared, and ReadKit uses OS X Mountain Lion’s Notification Center for notices.
ReadKit also uses online feeds services (similar to what Google Reader once did) including Feedly, Fever, NewsBlur, Feed Wrangler, and Feedbin.
Even in the age of Flipboard on iPad and iPhone, there’s just no better way to get more information added to your Mac than a standalone RSS reader. Unfortunately, an RSS reader is not a cultivated app– you have to find the RSS subscriptions you want. But once they’re set up, tracking through a few hundred sites takes only minutes.