The top five RSS readers for keeping up with your news feeds

When you want to check out your favorite news sites or other online information sources, you can take the time to go directly to each site, clog your email with newsletters and announcements, check the updates on your favorite social media app(s) — or you can use an RSS feed reader.

RSS readers allow you to collect the articles of specific sources in one app, making it a lot easier to find the content you’re interested in without crawling through a lot of noise. RSS (which may stand for Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, or one of several other possibilities — nobody seems sure) has been around a while, having been first developed in 1999, although it wasn’t more widely adopted until a few years later.

Since then, the idea of using feeds has risen and fallen in popularity (it didn’t help when Google, true to its habit of creating and killing apps, sunset its own popular Reader in 2013), but RSS has never actually gone away. Plenty of websites continue to maintain RSS feeds, and there are a wide range of RSS apps still available for those who want to use them.

I’ve tried out a few, and these are the five that I thought worked best. Each of these works either via an online app or has apps for all the major formats: macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android. With one exception, they all have a free version, too.

Feedly is one of the best-known RSS readers.

When you talk about RSS apps these days, Feedly is usually the first one that comes to mind. Feedly has been around since 2008 and became one of the best known RSS apps when Google Reader was relegated to the app graveyard

The Interface

Feedly is easy to set up, especially if you’re starting from scratch. I typed in The Verge, and the various feeds associated with that were immediately offered. I chose the general feed and was invited to create a folder to put it in (with the suggestion to call it “Tech”), and then it offered suggestions for other sources, such as TechCrunch and Ars Technica.

Once you’ve added your sources, it’s easy to read your feeds by clicking on the feed name in the left column. The entries can be marked for later reading, marked as read, or hidden; select Today to see the latest entries for all your feeds. 

What do you get for free?

The free version lets you follow up to 100 feeds and store them in up to three folders. You can also create boards: areas where you can save your favorite articles so you can refer to them again or share them with others. Boards can be very useful for, say, research projects; they also have more formatting features than your basic feed.  

Feedly can plug into other apps, too. For example, if you prefer the interface through a macOS / iOS app such as Reeder, you can organize your feeds through Feedly and then read them through Reeder.  

You can import OPML files and export them as well (through the web version only). You can also back up articles to Dropbox or via IFTTT.

What do you get with the paid versions?

The Pro version ($72 a year) lets you collect up to 1,000 RSS feeds, save to other apps such as Evernote and OneNote, share to several sites such as LinkedIn, and hide sponsored ads. If you want to try out Feedly’s AI feature, which is supposed to use your prompts and your past usage to figure out what you’re looking for — and also pick up newsletters and up to 2,500 feeds — that will cost you $144 a year for the Pro Plus version.

Inoreader has a clean, easy-to-understand interface.

Next to Feedly, Inoreader seems to be one of the most cited RSS readers if you go looking for reviews. I hadn’t tried it before, and I was pleased with what I saw: its clean, easy-to-understand interface and wide range of free features make it a good bet.

The interface

Inoreader opens on a handy dashboard which gives you a choice of a number of widgets highlighting specific categories of articles, including new or recently commented articles, currently trending, inactive feeds, as well as personal statistics, and a variety of other options. 

The side panel lists several categories: articles marked to read later; a library that includes read later, starred, and recently read articles; and a Team section (for paid users). This is followed by your feeds: you can look at all at once, at specific feeds, or at a folder of feeds.

What do you get for free?

Inoreader’s free version lets you look at up to 150 feeds, but it also offers a lot more than most of its competitors. Along with the personalized dashboard and the ability to create folders, you can automatically highlight keywords (making it easier to spot relevant passages), use a podcast player, and save to Pocket, Evernote, OneNote, Google Drive, and Dropbox. 

You can view your feeds via a variety of different views: a list, a column, cards, and others. You can look for articles in a range of dates: older than one day, two days, a week, etc. You can even add notes to entries. 

There are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, along with Android and iOS apps. And, like Feedly, you can plug into other apps, such as Reeder, FeedMe, and Reabble

What do you get with the paid versions?

Supporters ($20.04 a year) get up to 500 feeds and no ads. The Pro version ($9.99 a month or $90 a year) adds unlimited feeds and a number of features, including the ability to create rules and filters, translate feeds, integrate with IFTTT and Zapier, and do a global search. You can try the Pro version out for 14 days.

Feeder offers features suitable for both new users and pros.

While many of the apps here try to walk a center line between simplicity and lots of features, Feeder tries a different tack: it works either as a basic RSS feed reader or as one for professionals. If you’re new to RSS, Feeder make it easy by offering a variety of categories that let you choose the feeds with which you want to start. But if you need to monitor large numbers of feeds, Feeder offers a dashboard (as part of its paid version) with columns that let you view a bunch of feeds simultaneously.

The interface

Feeder has a very well-organized (if slightly crowded) interface. Click on the Add feed to get a group of categories, such as Tech, Gaming, News, and Entertainment; click on one of those categories and (as mentioned above) you can see a group of popular feeds from which to choose. 

You can organize your feeds in the Library. Here you can move your feeds around, see your collections (a way to organize posts based on key words and other factors; for example, I created a collection called Vision Pro), and list all the feeds’ sources. Finally, you can export your feeds as OPML files and import either OPML or XLS files. 

What do you get for free?

The free version allows 200 feeds, updated every 30 minutes; it is ad-free. You can also follow several social media sites, job boards, and newsletters (unusual for a free feed). Feeder give you a unique email address that you can use to subscribe to various newsletters, thus moving them out of your personal email account; you can also use that same email address to forward newsletters from your email account. I find this a lot handier (and, quite honestly, safer) than connecting an RSS reader or other app to your email account.

What do you get with the paid versions?

The Plus version costs $9.99 a month, or $95.88 a year, and allows 2,500 feeds, five-minute updates, additional sources (such as government databases and other sources), email summaries, and the ability to create rules and filters. As mentioned, you can also create a dashboard: multiple columns that let you view several feeds at once. Meanwhile, the Professional version gets you access to unlimited feeds, lets you create public dashboards, and create your own RSS feeds.

NewsBlur is open source and very flexible, if you know how to work it.

NewsBlur is a busy, open-source app for people who know what they want out of an RSS reader and don’t mind tweaking a little to get it.

The interface

The interface for NewsBlur can be, basically, anything you want it to be. For example, it has four different views you can use: a normal Feed view; an Original view, which gives you the look of the original article; the Story view, which offers all the articles from that feed; and the Text view, which extracts just the text. You can have one, two, or three columns of information. You can see your feeds in list or grid form.

What do you get for free?

As might be expected from an open-source app, you get a lot. You can see your unread stories, read stories, or all your stories. You can train the app to pick out your preferred feeds by marking various characteristics — such as authors — as green or red, and see statistics like how often stories are updated and how many are in that source’s archive. In short, there’s a lot here to play with — and if you run into trouble, you can always check the user forum.

What do you get with the paid version?

For $36 a year, you get more frequent updates, the ability to search sites and folders, the ability to save stories with searchable tags, and a number of other features.

Feedbin’s simplicity is its advantage.

Feedbin, alone among these five RSS readers, is not free. But it offers a 30-day trial period (credit card not needed), and it impressed me so much with its straightforward simplicity that I had to include it.

The interface

When I first started Feedbin up, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it — unlike the other readers, there were no categories to choose from, no views or AI, or extra-special stuff. Just a plain column on the left to add feeds to (you can upload an OPML file if you want). The specific feed’s articles are listed in the column next to that, and you click on an article to read it on the right. You can either see the first few lines and click through to the original or bring in the full article.

Even the fees are simple: if you want to continue past the 30-day trial, you can pay $5 a month or $50 a year. And there are no additional features; with the trial version, what you see is what you get.

What do you get?

Feedbin is not so simple that it doesn’t have useful features. You can sort your feeds in a variety of ways — oldest or newest first, for example — or you can ask it to always try to get the entire content rather than just the first few lines. Like Feeder, you get an email address so that you can direct newsletters to Feedbin rather than to your email. You can choose to see all your articles, your unread articles, your starred articles, or your recently read articles. While there are no folders, you can tag various feeds in order to organize them.

You can share specific articles, star them as favorites, and even change the typeface to something you find more readable. Storage allows for 400 of each feed’s most recent articles, and up to 400 unread items per feed.

In short, even though it doesn’t have a free version like the other readers listed here, Feedbin is useful and straightforward enough that it’s possible once I’ve exhausted the 30-day free trial, I may just decide to sign up.

What else is out there?

Of those I looked at, these are the five RSS feed readers that I found most useful, but there are quite a few others out there as well. For example, Reeder has an enthusiastic user base (including at least one Verge colleague) and can sync with other apps such as Feeder and Feedbin; it’s only available for Apple-based systems and costs $9.99 for the macOS version and $4.99 for the iOS version. Flipboard is a handy mobile reader that’s been around awhile and, as its name implies, allows you to flip through your various feed articles; it’s available for iOS and Android devices.

Whatever RSS feed reader you choose, it’s worth it to try at least one or two. This way, you can keep up with news from your favorite sources without depending on the chaos that is your email account or the random opinions from TikTok.


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