Web based feed readers are kind of a pain to use. They often implement changes that you don’t want, while taking away features that you like. Local readers are much better when it comes to this, because you can revert to an older version in case of adverse changes.
Smart RSS Reader is a feed reader extension for Firefox and Chrome that I have been using for a week; I’m quite impressed by it so far.
Install the add-on and click its toolbar icon to open a new tab with the extension’s RSS reader. It has three panes, each of which has a toolbar at the top. The left pane is the feeds pane and lists all RSS feeds that you’re subscribed too. Selecting a feed displays the title of the articles published by the site in the center pane. It also displays the author’s name and the date when the article went live.
Click on an article’s title to open it in the browser view, aka the right pane. Smart RSS Reader displays the article in its native format (i.e. no misaligned text or items) and it contains the images included in the post too. Use the Pin icon in the top right corner of an article’s page to favorite it.
Smart RSS Reader supports offline article reading which is useful when you’re away from an internet connection. The extension’s toolbar icon flashes a badge when a new article has been published, so you won’t miss out on reading your favorite sites.
Adding RSS Feeds
The toolbar on the top of the Feeds pane has a plus button. Clicking it brings up a box where you can enter an RSS Feed’s URL. For e.g. http://www.ghacks.net/feed/
The extension automatically picks-up the name of the website, its favicon and you’ll immediately see the list of articles available for reading. Another way to add a feed is by right-clicking on the extension’s toolbar icon. This context menu is useful for subscribing to the RSS feed of the website that you’re currently on. This doesn’t work for every site though, it needs to have an RSS or XML feed available which the add-on pulls automatically.
If you’re subscribed to a lot of feeds already, don’t worry you don’t need to waste time re-adding each of those to Smart RSS Reader. Click on the wrench icon in the top right corner to go to the options page, scroll down to the Import section and select the OPML > browse button to pick your OPML file.
The feeds are imported instantly, and the add-on preserves the folders that you have set in your previous RSS reader.
Right-click on the “All feeds” option to view a context menu which allows you to “Update all, Mark all read, and Delete all articles”.
Select a Feed and right-click on it, click on Properties to change the URL, name etc.
Use the “New Folder” option in the Feeds pane’s toolbar to create a new folder, and move RSS feeds into it. This can help you organize things. Each feed has its own context menu that has options to update the list of articles, mark all as read, delete (unsubscribe), refetch (redownload), Openhome (opens the feed’s website).
The feeds list pane has yet another context menu. This one can be used to jump to the next unread, previous unread articles, or to mark articles as unread, mark and next/previous as unread, unpin articles, and to open the article in a new tab. The toolbar at the top of this pane has three icons: mark all read, update, delete. The Search box is handy to search for a particular article in your feeds.
Smart RSS Reader options
The extension has a bunch of options including a 2-pane view, sorting options, article font size, reader behavior, export feeds to OPML or SMART (text document), etc. Smart RSS Reader has many keyboard shortcuts that you can use to read and manage your feeds.
Get the Firefox extension from the add-ons repository, and the Chrome version from the webstore. According to the developer, the extension is a fork of an add-on made by Martin Kadlec, which was made as an alternative to the built-in RSS reader in Opera 12. Smart RSS Reader is an open source extension.
The fact that you don’t need an online account to manage your feeds, and that everything is stored locally is really nice. Add-ons like this and Feedbro are the closest alternative for desktop readers, though I do use QuiteRSS myself. Smart RSS Reader is very fast and fluid.
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