Most of us who’ve been browsing the web for a few years have favorite sites to visit. Whether we use Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or some other browser, many sites means many browser bookmarks and that means a string of clicking to find articles, news, and entertainment pieces to view or read. Is there no end to the endless clicking?
For about a decade I’ve been preaching the merits of RSS readers to friends and family. Think of it as an app that gets the headlines and summaries for every site you want, does it automatically so you don’t have to click and click and click just to find something interesting to read.
Almost every website worth of eyeballs has an RSS subscription feed and they’re easily dropped into an RSS reader. One that’s been around on the Mac for many years is the free and open source Vienna reader which looks and works much like a mashup of iPhoto and Safari.
All your RSS website subscriptions are organized in the lefthand sidebar (a bit like albums in iPhoto or playlists in iTunes). Vienna checks websites regularly and downloads headlines and summaries for each one, easily visible, easily scanned, easily read with a single click.
Vienna makes it easy to subscribe to any website’s RSS or Atom news feed, including podcasts. The browser is built-in so you won’t even need to switch over to Safari or another browser to view sites. It detects the subscription feed on each site you visit. Subscriptions can be organized into categories, but Vienna does the gathering work in the background, totally unattended; truly set it and forget it– except when you want to read what Vienna gathered.
Article enclosures can be downloaded in Vienna and you can choose from three separate reading layouts. RSS feed articles can be saved and organized, too, and searching old articles is easy.
Not bad for free. If there’s a negative at all it’s that Vienna is Mac only. There’s no companion RSS reader for iPhone or iPad, though many similar RSS readers exist for iOS.