Google Reader is now my primary RSS experience

I have been using NewsGator's NetNewsWire for Mac RSS reader for years but yesterday I moved all my RSS feeds over to Google Reader and closed NetNewsWire for good. There are lots of things to like about NetNewsWire like its tabbed windows, responsiveness and polished look and feel, but even with these things in mind it struggles to compete with the best online RSS readers out there today.

I played around with Google Reader in its first carnation last year but its interface went over my head. It seemed to me they were trying to be clever with news rather than give users an interface they were used to and actually wanted. Recently Google re-released Reader in a far more conventional guise making the overall experience very similar to traditional RSS readers with a few added bonuses.

So how does Google Reader, a Web-based application overcome NetNewsWire's OSX savvy advantages?


Thanks to a hefty dose of AJAX Google Reader is almost as responsive as NetNewsWire even though it is running in a browser. Also to keep an eye on unread news I have also installed the Google Reader Firefox extension which gives brief summary of the current unread news without having to open Reader.


Google's aesthetics with Reader seem to be significantly more polished than that of its more mature products like search and GMail. Sure it does not have all of the OSX bling that NetNewsWire supports but it is clean and stylish enough to be used without getting sore eyes.

Always synchronised

Being Web-based Google Reader is always available and synchronised no matter which computer you maybe using. NetNewsWire supports synchronisation to NewsGator's online reader and between different NetNewsWire instances but it has never quite worked. This all stems back to the fact NewsGator does not appear to be focusing on sorting out these bugs and seems quite content to let their users struggle along or move to another service.

Web-centric functionality

Google Reader offers little pieces of Web-centric functionality like a one-click option to share a selected story with other people via RSS or embedded within a web page. This means you can go through your news highlighting and sharing things that maybe of interest to others with minimal effort. Easy to use functionality like this just is not available in NetNewsWire without signing up to a third party service like

Resource Usage

NetNewsWire can also be a resource hog once it has been running for a while with multiple tabs open. Generally this equates to about 100meg of RAM and anywhere between 300-600meg of swap space consumed. Google Reader on the other hand works within an Internet browser so it only uses as much as what its host browser needs. With Firefox this can equate to a lot of resources but by not having NetNewsWire open the overall system resource hit is not nearly as bad.


Given these benefits and the functionality of Google Reader making the decision to switch from a program I have used for many years was not that difficult. So far I am enjoying the experience and my Mac is welcoming the extra system resources. Rather ironically the only thing Google Reader needs now is search functionality and the ability to tag news items based on these search results and I will be content.