For my “techie” post of the week, I want to explain the basics of Google Reader.
Recently, RSS feeds have changed the way we find material (actually, the way material finds us) on the internet. Instead of having to go and seek out this information, it is now coming directly to us.
To sort, receive, and manage all of these “feeds,” feed catchers have popped up all over the place. My favorite, of course, is Google Reader.
Google Reader lets you subscribe to these feeds easily by typing them into an address bar and then lets you read them like you’re browsing through e-mail.
Because Google Reader is a browser based application, there is no application to download or install.
1. To start using Google Reader, simply go to the main page and sign in using your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, you can make one within a matter of minutes.
2. Once you have signed in, you need to input feeds to start browsing. Look at the picture above and click the “Add a subscription” button. To input the feed, simply type in the URL associated with that feed.
4. If you are entirely new to the world of blogs (or if you want to expand your reading), click on the “Browse for stuff” link and go to the “Browse” tab.
5. Another way to subscribe to blogs (and the one that I use most often) is to locate the “Subscribe To This Feed” button on the blog of the site you wish to follow. If the blog is well designed, it should be fairly easy to find and subscribe. Hopefully you guys are using FeedBurner now
Trends and Keyboard Shortcuts
You can analyze your reading habits are by clicking “Trends” in the menu bar on the left side. For me, this helps me analyze what blogs I’m reading and what blogs I’m not reading. If I’m not interested in a blog anymore, it’s likely I will unsubscribe.
Yes, I subscribe to my own blog. It helps me to make sure that my feeds are posting properly.
Sorting through Google Reader can be pretty quick if you know a few keyboard shortcuts.
- “J” will skip to the next unread item.
- “K” will brings you back to the previous item.
“2″ will switch to the list view, then you can use “N/P” to scan through the items without opening them. When you find something you want to read, hit the “Enter” key and it will open in full view.
For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts you can go here .
When you start subscribing to a lot of blogs, your Google Reader can become complete chaos. By creating folders, you can organize your subscriptions by any combination you can think of.
To create folders…
- Click on any one of your subscriptions in the left navigation bar until it opens up in the main reading pane.
- Click the drop down menu called “Feed Settings” at the top of the page and select the button that says ”New Folder.”
- Type in a desired name and click “Ok.”
You can repeat the process until all of your subscriptions are assigned to a folder. As a side note, you can also add feeds to existing folders by the same process, but click the desired folder instead of “New Folder.”
This is also a great time to change the name of a subscription. Simply click “Rename Subscription.”
If you really want to enhance your Google Reader experience you can download customizable features with the use of extensions for Firefox or Google Chrome (I use Chrome).
I really like the Google Reader Notifier extension.
It adds a small icon to your browser that shows how many unread items you have in your reader.
(I don’t have any)
Mousing over the icon pops up a list of the unread items.
This is useful for staying ahead, but it also drives me nuts to see unread posts. It’s a total love/hate relationship.
Saving and Sharing
The bottom of each item from your feed list contains a few options.
- ”Add Star” is great for tagging items that you want to go back and review later.
- ”Share” and “Share with note” show up in your friend’s list of feeds (if you are connected with Google Buzz or GCHAT)
- You also have the ability to email stories to others, mark a post “unread” and add your own customizable tags.
This is why I love Google Reader.