A day before Newsgator made their RSS Suite totally FREE, Amit did a review of Newsgator’s FeedDemon (Windows RSS Feed Reader), which got me thinking about NetNewsWire. Let me give you a brief about my RSS Feed Reader usage before suggesting ‘How to squeeze the best out of FREE NetNewsWire’.
I have been using RSS Feed Readers in a way or the other ever since the hay days of the blogging revolution in the early 2000s. While on Windows, I graduated to a full fledged RSS Reader with Nick Bradbury’s FeedDemon ever since its very early days. Bradbury Software, Nick’s company that made FeedDemon was acquired by NewsGator Technologies in May 2005 (I think Nick works with Newsgator at present). My FeedDemon license was alive in all those acquisitions, upgrades and I was a happy user of FeedDemon all along.
The Apple Mac and NetNewsWire
During summer, 2006 I got converted and amongst all other important Mac softwares – RSS Feed Reader was also one of my primary App. I did an install-test study of many RSS Feed Readers before taking the final decision. NetNewsWire was my ultimate choice after testing it for almost 3 weeks. It was however not free then but was worth every penny. (Note: I installed and used most the RSS Readers for almost a month to study them.)
With the short story above, I’m pretty sure you must have a vague idea that I’m like one of you – a regular Internet guy – who reads lots of RSS Feeds every day. Thus, I’m pretty confident that I can tell you ‘How to squeeze the best out of FREE NetNewsWire‘.
Tweak, Tweak, Tweak
Tweaking of apps to give you the best result, best output and best usage is a gradual process. Never stop tweaking, never stop experimenting with permutations and combinations of various options and preferences. Here, let me summarize various settings which have worked good for me so far. I urge you to try them, enhance them and change them to suit you best. So, let’s start tweaking – Open up the Preferences.
Internet is still best with small things
However fast your internet connection bandwidth may be, on the Internet it is alway a good idea to have things in their small version (if available) – smaller image size, smaller css files, smaller and quicker downloads. The same applies to anything that interact with the Internet constantly – NetNewsWire is not an exception. Change the Preferences in NetNewsWire to let it do things quicker, with lesser resource and to give you the quickest response possible.
Preferences > General > Reading
- You do not need to read changes to an article, unless you were following the topic and if you were following it then you would have flag it or clipped it. However, highlighting it is good just in case you have free time to laze around and happen to read old feeds again.
- Show only 10 Items per page for the fast view while in Combined View mode.
- You don’t really need to check for software updates. You’ll definitely come to know of updates if there is one sooner than later and you don’t need to be the first top users at all. Not just for NetNewsWire, I apply this rule to all Apps. See, squeeze out every ounce of delay from an App.
Preferences > General > Archiving
- Honestly, I never needed to archive feeds. What is Google for? Search there and if you don’t remember the keywords – it definitely is not that important. Nonetheless, you might just do a monthly HTML archive for keep-sake if you are really inclined to.
- 7 days is enough to keep feeds in NetNewsWire. I suggest changing this to about 30 days for those who are average to moderate users.
Preferences > Browsing >Behavior
- It is quicker to stay at a single location to do multiple actions. So, browsing inside NetNewsWire is a faster way (Open Links in > NetNewsWire) and of course, you can jump out if an article needs more attention or you’ll spend more time analyzing it.
- Oh! yes, do ‘Open Links in Background’ and avoid the wasteful time due to distraction from opened tabs.
- Finally, you’d want to return to the news item when the tab is closed.
The News Items and Web Pages are best left as it is, nothing much going on there.
You can skip the other 3 setting preferences too – Colors, Fonts, Posting. They’ve nothing to do with speed or optimization. However, you might like to see which font suits you best and which size is best for your layout (screen size ).
Preferences > Downloading > Feeds
Yes, the ‘minimum 30 minutes feed refresh’ limitation of NetNewsWire can be a disappointment for some people. However, with my experience I can guarantee that anything frequent than that will drastically reduce your work-productivity. A strong suggestion would be to increase the feed refresh time if you wish to get more work done and less distraction with an ‘info-overload’.
- An hourly refreshment of your subscription should do ‘more than enough justice’ to be on top of the news happening around your topic. Personally, I’ve increased it from my frenzy 30 minutes updates to a nominal ’2 hours’ update frequency.
- Reduce the concurrent downloads to just about ’5′. Of course, I’m on a 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro with just 2GB of RAM. Higher end Macs can increase that to about ’10′.
Well, you don’t really need to download enclosures. But again if you’re an avid podcast listener (I’m not one), you can let it automatically add podcasts to iTunes.
Preferences > Downloading > Feeds
- You DO NOT need to sync (most of the times) if you use a single computer or a laptop. If you want to sync between your office and home, think again – Do you really want to disturb your family life. Sync only if you really need to.
Tips & Tricks
I don’t really like “Sort by Last Update” more because I like things the way I set them. So, if “Sort by Last Update”, the way last feeds are on top, so be it and stick to it. In order to set few priority feeds (Sorted by Name), I setup folder names starting with Numbers (in my case)
- Smart Folders
- Hot Feeds
- My Feeds
This way, the feeds that I frequent most will always be on the top and I can read just that when I don’t want to scroll down. The Smart Lists allows me to look for my favorite keywords and other criteria-based results from my feeds even if I don’t really go and read all individual feeds. Clippings and Flags allow me to bookmark feeds which I can get back later.
The “Post to Del.icio.us” is another awesome tool to make the best of NetNewsWire. However, take not that if you post directly from the feeds, the feed url will be bookmarked (for instance the feedburner url). So, let the feed open up in a new tab and post it from the tab to bookmarked the actual Web URL.
Did I forgot to tell you to take advantage of the Wide-Screen Layout option if you are on a Wide-Screen computer. It has the best viewing experience.
Keyboard Shortcuts Download
I’ve done a printable Keyboard Shortcuts for NetNewsWire to help you further enhance your RSS Reading habits. Download, Print and Pin it up for about a week or so and you’ll get used to the keys.
What about Google Reader users? Google Reader is awesome!
I did flirted with Google Reader and at its current version, I won’t hesitate to say that it is one hell of an awesome Web Application. I’ll be coming up with an article on my experience with Google Reader. I’ll also do a comparison matrix of NetNewsWire and Google Reader that will help you choose which one to use.
- TUAW did a comparison of NetNewsWire and Vienna
- Amit’s view on Why FeedDemon is Better Than Google Reader and Bloglines
Note: I had over 1,000+ feeds but was able to reduce it to 765 at the time of writing this article.