Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Google Reader

RSS I’ve gotten a few comments in the last couple of months, asking about Google Reader and how we can make it work for us. I thought I’d do a real quick overview of the way I use the application in case it might help someone else.

I subscribe, admittedly, to an obscene number of blogs (See below. Looks like I’m up to 1380, although I could have sworn I was around 1,000.)


What is Google Reader? It’s sort of a newspaper with all the blogs you’ve chosen as favorites included in the paper. It’s a quick and organized way to read through all the blogs you subscribe to—and, when the blogs update, your Reader automatically updates, too.

You add blogs to your Google Reader by subscribing to an RSS feed. What’s an RSS feed? I’m not exactly sure. :) Fortunately, it’s not really necessary to understand it to use it. Basically, if you look up at the top of your computer right now, you’ll see an address bar with Mystery Writing is Murder’s address in it. Next to it you’ll see an orange icon of something that looks like a radio wave (like the icon at the top of my blog post.) If you left-click on the icon, it gives you options to subscribe to my blog (or whatever blog you’re on.) Then you can choose “Google Reader” as the way you’d like to read your subscription.

Google Reader is free, but you need to have some sort of a free account with Google—like a gmail address or a Blogspot blog to use the application.

Once you’ve added blogs to your reader, you can read them…either a list view, like this:


Or an expanded view, like this:


If you really subscribe to a lot of blogs (like I do), then you can organize the blogs into different folders/categories.

To create a folder, click on “manage subscriptions” at the very bottom left-hand corner of your page (under “subscriptions.) Then click on the subscriptions tab. Then click “add to a folder” on any of the blog feeds (it doesn’t really matter which one.) At the bottom of the drop-down menu, it will have “add a folder.” Click on that to create a new folder.

Ideas for folders: I love reading writing blogs. If I had my way, I wouldn’t do any work and I’d just read blogs. Obviously, this isn’t a good way to get books written. So to curb myself, I organize blog subscriptions into days of the week and then read those blogs those days. This way I can be sure to read everyone at least some of the time and still get some work done. :)

To page up and down and through your Reader quickly, here are some Google Reader shortcuts to help you out.

Google Reader Housekeeping:

Sometimes you’ll want to go through your Reader and cull some blogs—maybe they’re blogs that haven’t updated for a long time, for example. If you look at the left-hand column on your Google Reader, you’ll see “Your Stuff.” Several items below that is “Trends.” If you click on trends, a screen will pull up that lists blogs that are inactive or obscure…and you can delete your subscription right off the screen.

Google Reader

Hope this helps! Does anyone else have some Google Reader tips to share? Or any questions?