Google reader wishes it were stagnating

They’ve ruined it, here is the critique (via Brad DeLong).  I love Google products, but will they fix it?  How long should I give them?  If they don’t fix it, to which reader should I switch and tell all loyal MR readers to switch to?

Google, why did you wreck it so?


I don't know how Bloglines is these days, I'm used to Google Reader and I got a great deception today when I openned it. I can no longer recommend items nor read items recommended from friends.
So if any of you has an alternative I'll be glad to search for it.

I completely agree. I never bothered with any of the share stuff, but it's just hideous now. I'm giving them two weeks, and if it's not at least switched back to the old style pending a better redesign, I'm finding something else.

They won't go back.

They won't go back, thats not how companies work.

Two words: New Coke.

Smart companies eat their mistakes before their mistakes eat them.

One word: Netflix

I've switched back to bloglines. Goodbye Google Reader. Goodbye arrogant web designers who think a pretty layout with lots of whitespace is more important than something that works.

It's very frustrating. Note! Sharing still works in Reeder, the best damn RSS app around in my opinion. But, should Google persist in this devastating nonsense, keep an eye on this project: The Atlantic has the skinny here:

Sharing still works, using email, g+ or any other service through 'send to'. Not exactly the same I know, but good enough for me. The design could use some work though, true. But something like this was to be expected after the other services already got a new look ... maybe they should just re-evaluate the person that was responsible for the reader re-design ...

They just effed up gmail, too. I made the mistake of clicking the button to go with the new style, and now it's damn near unreadable. What in the world are they thinking? They seem to have confused change-for-change's sake with innovation.

I only noticed the button for GMail's redesign after the Google Reader design came out, and the first thing I thought was: after they so egregiously screwed up Google Reader, what on earth would cause them to think I'd click on a link for a new design for GMail. Hell no.

Unfortunately they're going to force you into it eventually. Unless enough people leave obscenely abusive comments (as I did).

If you click on the gear in Gmail, you can change the layout spacing. Comfortable was unusable, but I'm really liking Cozy. Compact takes it a bit far.

Also, GMail will still have themes like it had for a while, not exactly sure if one that fits you is there, but at least it's easier to adjust then Reader.

Hivemined is the up and comer that is being made specifically because of this.

For now though the main advice to offer is that if you hit F you can get your real estate back, and the j/k/space/v keys all work as before. Shift+? gives you the current hot keys if you were not used to them before. I never made notes in reader so i don't have the exporting of that figured out, but the how to i saw on it looked pretty easy. The articles get formatted terribly when shared in google+, and on top of that I have to open a new window to see new shared items. If hivemined is ready before google fixes things I will make the switch for sure.

i've been so put off by the changes that i've started using the feedreader client. it's actually a nice feeling not having to feel like you need your browser open every waking moment.

This is hilarious. I have been thinking the exact same thing for the last 24 hours. I cannot stand the new version and it hurts all the more because I use it so very often.

Use f shortcut to toggle fullscreen then j/k through posts until you need to switch folders and then toggle out of fullscreen. Although, I do think fullscreen actually is less fullscreen than it once was. That post has a workaround update for sharing without +1 (top right on unifying bar).

I am too lazy or entrenched to switch, and moderately confident reader will improve soon. At least, it is still easy to export subscriptions and move wherever.

Thanks for the tips. Also, agree. Most people won't switch.

Switching folders is still relatively simple if you use the "g then t" keyboard shortcut. It pops up with a list of your tags, or you can continue typing and it will match as you type. E.g. "g t tec" would start matching "technology" and you can just hit Enter to go to that folder/tag.

It still doesn't let you jump to a specific feed within that tag, but it's a decent workaround.

I actually didn't know about the fullscreen shortcut, just the "u" shortcut to collapse the sidebar. It'd be nice if fullscreen let you toggle the sidebar, too.

If you happen to be on a Mac, check out Reeder, which offers itself up as a front-end for GReader.

Gamble points out you can press F to get more reading space, but even that mode now has an extra bar at the top compared to what it used to have (It already had a small one). The top of the screen is the easiest place for me to read text; I don't want that there.

Furthermore has anyone else even mentioned the inconsistent behaviour when you open the page? Does this just happen to me? Sometimes I open it and it only loads half the page, sometimes it, for no reason clear to me, it shows recommended items instead of my subscriptions, and sometimes, if i'm lucky, it shows my unread items. It used to reliably show those by default.

Happens to me constantly.

Early unadopters.

Maybe I'm just a cranky hermit, but I don't really use the sharing features at all. I have way too many blogs to keep up with as it is.

The visual UI changes are a negative (although I didn't really notice the drab grey until I read the linked story, thanks A LOT Tyler!) but as with all changes we will eventually adjust. Speaking of adjust, it would be awesome to be able to adjust the sidebars and header so there is more space to read.

Wreck it? Don't you think you're being a little melodramatic?

I agree that it's visually uninspired, but it's underlying functionality is unchanged.

The critic has two main objections to the UI update. The first is styling and the second is the sharing functionality.

He feels like there isn't enough real estate for the content to be read and that there is too much grey. The screen shot that he shares is from a web browser on a tablet--Google announced a while ago that following the UI changes there would be a new app for Reader--he should wait for the app before offering a critique of Reader on a tablet. On a PC, the UI changes virtually nothing about the amount of content on the screen. In fact, I've got tons of real estate that could be used for other features without slowing my consumption of information.

The writer was attempting to share items with keyboard shortcuts? Really? The Share button has been with Google Reader for years--and they left it precisely where it used to be. The writer even notes the Sharing button in an update at the bottom of the post.

Bottom line is, sharing isn't any different and he's looking at the web page on the wrong platform. His criticism amounts to "too much grey".

It might have legitimate problems but his critique does nothing to illustrate them.

Sharing is totally different. Google Plus and Google Reader are two completely different animals. The UI is structured so that sharing is now in timeline form, so you encounter the Facebook problem of things falling off the wall. Plus is a cluttered stream of everything a person choses to post.

My mistake, it was the Send To button I was referring to--same idea. It works just the same as it did before. You can send it to all the places you could previously.

Have you used the "People you follow" and "Shared Items" part of gReader before? It was much more than the "Send To" functionality (which yes, has remained the same). People (mostly) are not complaining about the difficulty in sending gReader content to other services — they're missing the pseudo-feed that it created from the people you follow. It allowed you to "push" a feed item (the full content, not just a link) to your followers, optionally add a note to it, and then discuss in the comments attached to it. Now the only options it really offers is to push a *link* to the item to Google+ or another external service.

I used it briefly, but found very little use for it. My friends were already sharing items via social networks by the time I started using Reader.

"On a PC, the UI changes virtually nothing about the amount of content on the screen"

Unless you have a medium sized or smaller laptop.

I switched to RSSOwl: it's ok.

Your entire post is way off point...the primary problem for many hardcore Reader users is not the layout change (I can deal with the unpleasantness of whatever style changes they make) - it has everything to do with the social aspects. You sharing with other social networks has nothing to do with this problem. Some users want to compartmentalize certain aspects of their online use and Google Reader WAS a great way to do so with information.

Having all your personal information, comments and viewing habits on one site is a recipe for future problems, in my opinion.

No, my post isn't off point. I noted quite clearly that there were problems with the new user interface--just that this critique does nothing to illustrate them.

I usually bemoan the loss of any options (the more, the better in my mind), but it isn't as if you can't still still decide what you're sharing and with whom you share it.

You are not going to find what people share on in google reader. You have to look on google+. Google+ will not show you the article they shared, only the link. You now have to click through to the website. Those several steps eliminate most in depth discussion and can also take forever on a mobile device.

Regarding the UI on a PC, it depends on the screen. On my 1024 laptop, the readable area is reduced to about half of the screen real estate. It's noticeable, and slows my consumption of information considerably. I would say, wrecks it.

I have no suggestions, but do let us know what you end up doing.

Google did the same thing with Google News. The old interface was so much better. The new one is cluttered and crap.

What stumps me is that all those smart people at Google must surely feel this too?

It's like they completely forgot what let Google break into the already-ripe space occupied by Yahoo! and AltaVista.

Check out feedly! Ive been using it for a while now, and would definitely recommend it. You can even log into your Google account to import your blog lists.

Heck, I don't even bother with RSS. I know where what I want to read is.

that's like leaving all your books laying around the house in random places and then saying heck, i don't even bother with a bookshelf. i know where what i want to read is. #completelymissingthepointofrss

...but I do that, too.

And it's RSS's job to tell me what the point is, not for me to figure it out.


and unlike with books, my wife doesn't care how many tabs I leave open.

I assume you also prefer not to use Amazon because you know which websites sell the specific things you want to buy.

I subscribe to dozens of feeds. RSS allows me to quickly skim the titles, quickly get at the content that interests me at a given time, and dump the rest, minimizing transaction costs.

I don't exclusively use Amazon, no. It's one choice of many, that I... know where it is.

Thank you, though, for describing how you use RSS. I couldn't think of a use for it, before. I'd tend to think that subscribing to dozens of feeds isn't my style--I'd rather enter a search parameter and look for stories based on that, than scroll through an unsorted list--but it is helpful.

Among other issues, the biggest problem I have is that now all hyperlinks are black, rather than colored. I have my browser set so that hyperlinks aren't underlined, so without changing that setting, there's no way to see any hyperlinks in a post without opening the post as a new tab out of reader. Google jacked this up badly.

Reeder is not only the best Mac RSS reader I've used, its iPad and iPhone apps are also the best. Each one is different, playing to the strengths of each screen size, interaction model, and UI conventions. I've been using an RSS reader since NetNewsWire in 2003 and (apart from web-based clients, and their subsequent use syncing between different native apps), and Reeder is as much a leap forward as NNW itself was.

+1 (hah!) for Reeder across all Apple platforms.

+2 - Reeder is the nicest RSS client I've ever seen, period. I am excited for hivemined though - I'd love it if there was a non-Google way to share. Here's hoping that Reeder will get the option to use hivemined.

Brian Shih's post is an excellent point-by-point critique of the design changes, but independently of the unfortunate UI decisions, the removal of sharing functions is what really castrates the product. Plus and Reader are two totally different types of network. The timeline-style UI of Plus is well suited to Facebook-style sharing: log in, kill some time, consume whatever content is in front of you. Reader was for asynchronous consumption - I could log in at any time and see what friends had shared days ago.

I suppose the issue is whether you believe there should be one place that you share everything, or different networks for different things. Who you share with vs. who you share as. Google has made it clear that it believes in the former; this change to Reader is one more step in that direction.

I tried to crystallize my thoughts here: Ordinarily I wouldn't breach etiquette and link to my own post, but I'm really interested in how other people have used the service and if the sharing is as important to them as it was to me.

I've been using RSS Bandit for a while now. I don't do much with it besides, well, reading, so I can't comment on any sophisticated functionality, but if you just want something to comfortably aggregate rss-feeds with I think it works well enough.

I agree, I really don't like no longer having like and share.

This is impossible. I can't even access my feeds. It takes a constant manual refresh. I'm not sure if you guys noticed this but google is aware and they say that the adjustment is coming. The fact that I don't have automatic refreshing is TERRIBLE. Does anyone know if the mobile version has changed yet? I might just use the iPad version for as long as possible.

Thanks Tyler for posting this. I had been wanting to write you asking your view on the Google Reader changes but was to shy.

Newsblur seems to be pretty popular these days

Incidental Economist highlights a Firefox and Chrome add-on that lets you customize the new Google Reader and fix many of its aesthetic problems:

Now if only they'd bring back the sharing -- I prefer to share within the feed reader to other heavy users, and be more selective in what I share on my blog and on Twitter.

I'm a Google fan too but, to me, the best reader is

I looked at it for about three minutes before I was sold. Thanks for the tip.

Watch out for Netvibes, though. Very buggy.

I've been using daily for 4-5 years now, and I'm very, very satisfied with it (in fact, I came to this blog post from I'm using it as a fairly basic RSS reader, but it has tons of functionality hidden under the hood.

It also integrates very nicely with iOS - all you have to do is add it as a "web app" (instructions here I don't know about Android, WP7, etc., but I assume it works just as well.

Perhaps Propeller will fix some of the problems.

Or perhaps not.

Install Stylish (Firefox extension), then this *starts* to fix Reader:

@namespace url(;

@-moz-document url-prefix("") {
/* 140-character lines suck. Use something sane. */
.entry-body {
font-family: sans-serif;
font-size: 9.5pt;
max-width: 35em !important;

#nav li {
font-size: 8pt;

#chrome {
min-width: 0 !important;

#viewer-refresh, #viewer-view-options, #mark-all-as-read-split-button, #stream-prefs-menu {
margin-right: .5em !important;

#stream-view-options-container > DIV:last-child {
margin-right: 0 !important;

#item-up-down-buttons {
display: none;

.goog-menuitem-content {
font-size: 8pt !important;
line-height: 1;

.entry-icons {
width: auto !important;

.entry-title-link {
color: rgb(0,0,127) !important;

.entry-title-link:hover {
text-decoration: underline !important;

.entry-title-go-to {
display: none !important;

I tried adding this code as a User Style but it didn't make any difference to my Google Reader. Hmmm, I must be doing something wrong.

I have relied on FeedDemon for the past 3 years. Integrates with Google Reader, so no need to change favorites, shares, or tags and has a much nicer interface than the new reader (as well as the old). Added benefit are the "watches" that comb your feeds for key words and easy sharing. Not sure about integration to G+, since I am not a member.
(I don't work for or have any affliation to this company, just a happy user of the free version)

Presumably you find out what the Google engineers use for RSS, and use _that_ -- because apparently they sure as hell aren't using Google Reader.

I would "like" this in Google Reader, if that were still possible.

I +1'd it in Google Reader. It is even in the same spot as the like button.

I found a Chrome extension that improves things quite a bit (only for people who only use Chrome, naturally). It doesn't make it perfect, or back to the way it was, but I think it will tide me over until they realize what they've done.

[The link is in my name if it doesn't work]

I just switched to NewsBlur about 20 minutes ago, and it's fantastic. I like it even better than the old Google Reader.

It's clear to me that they modified Google Reader to look just like Google News. But Google news packs its little blue links much more densely; plus, it's a jumping off point. I don't stay on that page and read things for half an hour.

I've accidentally posted this in another comment thread, so my apologies to anyone who has already seen this:

Several people have mentioned extensions that fix the style problems with the new design. The one I use (for Chrome) is “Minimalist for Google Reader” which allows for things like “Hide header” and “make links blue” and custom widths for the navigation sidebar and the main section too. You can also design your own theme if you don’t like the color scheme. It goes a long way to fixing the visual problems with the new design. It’s possible that this extension exists for Firefox, Opera and Safari, but I don’t know. It’s worth looking for it, or something similar. The same person has also made "Minimalist" extensions for Gmail and Google Calendar.

I’m one of the few who actually liked Google Buzz, because it expanded the number of people who were paying attention to what I shared in Google Reader. Google+ now does that even more. It’s still not a large number, but I like the division I’ve got where Google+ is my network for interesting articles and intellectual discussion and facebook is my network for social events and interactions. They are very different things, and IF “circles” or “lists” were very easy to manage, I’d use them for that purpose, but for now, I like the division I’ve established between my two networks, and Google Reader is an indispensable part of that.

I would have shared this artice with my reader people, but now I can't. I was sorta looking forward to the integration so I'd see what my contacts G+ contacts were sharing, but that's not happening either.

where do I go to complain?

um, ignore the first "contacts" instance

The irony of this whole thing is that (along with some of the most active bloggers), it is the heavy Google Reader sharers that provide a positive externality to the rest of their information-seeking social networks. Google is not just increasing the cost of knowledge transmission by crippling sharing, but they are imposing the burden on precisely the people who do the curation work on behalf of everyone else.

Call me an elitist, but I find that Google Reader has had pretty significant effects on my lifestyle. I, for one, would rather meet up with friends where we can all talk about the same insightful article we shared and read, rather than being unable to find it in the sea of keyboard cats and baby photos that we'll all now be forced to wade through on Google+.

wtf at everyone. it looks almost the same, i don't understand. i just go right to all items and it's all there for me.

was there some old feature i wasn't taking advantage of?

You must not have been using the sharing features which is totally fine but you are entirely missing the point of this discussion.

For me it is almost totally broken. Stories don't fit in the browser window anymore and I have to scroll horizontally to read a full sentence.

I am going to give Google two weeks to fix this then migrate my rss feeds to another reader.

The design and too much whitespace are ugly, but it's the horizontal scrolling that makes it nearly useless. Slows down my reading by an order of magnitude.

Google confirms that the right tail still has a right tail :). They underestimated how few users use j/k, u, f, v, and s. WRT to the lost S shortcut, they likely wanted all sharing to come through the 1+. Big fail since they're usually so data driven WRT keystrokes and eye movements.

People are right to complain loudly so that Google can improve, but I am glad that Google is unifying their fragmented social networks (Buzz, Reader, and G+) and interfaces. You can recreate you Reader network as a G+ Circle (albeit with some switching costs). The sharing shortcut "S" will be back soon, I'm sure; in the meantime click on "share" in the menu bar to share without +1ing. To reduce white space use u or f. To jump to a tag, use g, then t, then type tag name. When in doubt press ? to see all shortcuts. These shortcuts are (for the most part) unified across all web apps.

Oh, and press v to go to the website. Don't you owe MR the web traffic? :)

I'll throw in my $0.02 on Google's recently updated Android Reader app, which has also become a total disaster.

It used to sync so that you didn't need an internet connection to read posts offline, which is a very handy feature. Now it no longer does this and just stalls and prevents access to content when the data connection is poor.

I am already looking for a new news aggregator. The new Google reader is not user or reader friendly at all.

I got Feeddler for iPad and iPhone just today. It's a front end for Google Reader, and really nice. It can't recreate the Google sharing button exactly, but it has more sharing options than plain Reader.

One solution on Feeddler to the sharing issue is to create a personal blog just for sharing links, and then "Send" posts to that blog. Friends who want to see your posts can add it as a normal RSS feed.

May I ask what the point of all these "readers"? Why is browser not enough? I have bookmarks for all sites that I read regularly in the same "folder". Then it's Right Click/Open All in Tabs. Then I am free to scan what's new and read what interest me. What is it that the readers add?

The current scheme seems a bit overdone: Feeddler is a front end for Google Reader which is a front end for a bunch of web sites (half of which are front ends for news and ads).

I have subscriptions to the feeds of well over 200 websites.

That's pretty unwieldy to use tabs for.

Reader lets me quickly scan the headlines of all those sites.

I never used it for anything but reading, and I still completely hate the changes. I want my old reader back!

they also borked the "Sort by Magic" option. It seemed to learn what you would be likely to click on, but whatever it learned prior to the change is now gone, and all I see are a hundred Lifehacker links unless I switch to "Sort by Newest".

I use Bloglines. It's not great, but it's better than Google Reader. Definitely not bug free, so don't expect Jobsian levels of quality. is a good alternative, particularly on chrome.

Is there any way to switch back to the old version? I admit I didn't search very carefully, but I couldn't find any and would appreciate it if someone could tell me if/how I could do it. Thanks!

The worst part is that the new Reader seems to have been designed by someone who misses the aesthetic of Windows 3.0

Check out FeedDemon - syncs with Reader. FAR better. Glad I switched.

The new layout of Google Reader sucks. It seems to have much less space and I can't tell clearly where one item end and the other one begins.
Because they moved the function buttons around, I accidentally deleted all unread posts when I wanted to refresh. *Argh*

The new layout has more white space than Antarctica. I feel like Captain Scott.

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