Google Reader gets a small but useful tweak

Whilst people are harping on regularly about real-time news streams in the form of twitter and so on, there’s still an awful lot of value to be had from RSS feeds which are incredibly widespread on the web. I’ve been using Google Reader to stay on top of my favourite news sources for a long while, and though it’s not without its failings, I still find it to be the best RSS reader available.

Yesterday the Google Reader team added a few features which make it even more useful.

Send To

There’s a new section in your Reader settings which allows you to set up sites to which you’d like to share an item with. This makes it easier to choose a particular network to send an item to instead of just using the generic share button.

Feeds from people you follow

A small but nice touch. By following people you see their shared items in your feeds. Now you can also check out what feeds they have posted to their profile, meaning that you can catch a friend’s blog feed which you might have missed.

“Mark all as read” tweaked

This is the best update by a long shot. You now have the ability to mark as read any subscription, folder, or all items with certain time conditions. As I’ve recently returned from a week on an island I was confronted with 3000+ new items in my feeds. Now with one click I can mark anything over two weeks old as read, which knocks that number down under 2000 new items.

What next?

Calling out to the Google Reader team – please allow us to set up filters, or some way of training our feeds so that we can start pruning out the noise that doesn’t interest us. I have little to no interest in Apple news, of which there is much discussion on many feeds. I care not about Steve Jobs’ health. I’m not interested in Daily Tech’s reporting of latest news from NASA, but I like their other reports. TechCrunch’s excessive reporting of every single movement of the Twitter team bores me.

Make it possible for me to filter this stuff out so I can save time in my morning catch up.

Comments

  • Charles H. Gund

    I don't understand why filters aren't implemented yet, it's such an important aspect of a feed reader…

    Can't they just modify the gmail code slightly?

    • Aye, it's baffled me somewhat. Even if there was the ability to "Mark all as read" from a search query, that would be a start, but that functionality isn't in place. They could even set it up so that filtered items were placed into a special filter folder so that you could quickly scan through it every once in a while in the same way you might double check your spam folder in Gmail.

  • Yep my favourite reader too. What I'd love is a *hard* keep unread. So scrolling down quickly won't mark it as read. When I'm using google reader on my phone I mark something as unread and it stays that way until I mark as read. But on the regular reader stuff becomes marked as read again, and disappears way to easily.

  • I assume this is from browsing in expanded view?

    I always use the list view which generally makes it easier to keep stuff unread, although I guess if you refresh and go back over something it'd be marked read again.

    You could set up a tag like 'read later' and tag stuff that you want to read properly later. Then you just need to remember to look at that tag when you have a bit of spare time.

    I say this like it's a good idea, but, well I have it set up but never remember to use it…

  • It's good that there is so many ways to set it up. But I rarely use list view. I use expanded view, and when I have a load of items, I just click view all, and then just whack through them all quickly by hitting J.

    I also use only display updated/unread items, everything else disappears, so a folder wouldn't really work for me. If I have no unread I don't even see any folders. I find this a lifesaver, couldn't use reader without that setup.

    While we're at it; My favourite reader feature, is sharing out folders, and then using the bit of code it gives you to automatically create links pages / blogroll from your reader. Anything i add to a folder automatically gets added to this page: http://www.johnbraine.com/links

  • Aye, I'm only using the view unread items. It is very nice to have such a variety of methods to display stuff.

    I think I'm used to using list view because I've had such a variety of shitty net connections that using expanded view resulted in mongo slow load times.

    Thanks for pointing out the links page you've got set up. Prompted me to have a look for a WordPress plugin that might do something like this, and lo and behold there is one:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/recommended-r

    I'll get this working when I get a bit of spare time 🙂

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  • I've set up the plugin mentioned above, and you can see it in action over at http://alex.leonard.ie/pastic

    It looks pretty good and is easily styled. One minor issue seems to be that it's not picking up the date correctly. I'm sure that will be easily fixed.