Google Reader is a free, Web-based reader for RSS feeds. You can find feeds on nearly every Web site. RSS feeds offer a simplified view of Web content down to just text, pictures and videos–minus the site’s style and formatting.
There are many online RSS readers available, but Google is one of the best. I found it easy to get a grip on Google Reader basics.
I can now access all the blogs that I follow, The Guardian, BBC News, AlJazeera, French Press and so much more from just one place.Once you get going with Google Reader, you’ll likely have a bunch of sites that need organizing into groups. The easiest tool to handle this is folders.
As a Gmail user, I was familiar with “starring” and labeling, Google’s simplified version of managing feeds and stories instead of folders. Google Reader is no different, letting you star or tag posts with labels for organising them.
The service presents stories in two ways: expanded and list view. The list view quite familiar, as it’s made up of headlines and the first few words of each story. Clicking on a title expands it so you can read the entire thing. If you want to read any story from its source, you can either click the headline while the story is open, or just hit V on your keyboard.
The possibilty to share stories is quite attractive. The right way to share stories is to use the share button at the bottom of each story. This is basically the closest thing Google Reader has to a friends feature. Clicking it will automatically publish it to a publicly available blog. You can share the link to the blog with your friends, or give them the RSS feed so they can subscribe to it in Google Reader.
Finally, what makes Reader so useful is the keyboard shortcuts. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can quickly go through a few hundred stories in one sitting. To navigate back and forth between stories, use J and K. Switching between different sites, or groups of feeds gets a little trickier, but if you’re willing to think in terms of abbreviations, it’s not so tough. Browsing through feeds is just like going through stories, except now you hold shift and use N (“Next”) and P (“Previous”) to go up and down. When you’ve found your feed, keep holding shift and hit the O key (for Open).
It takes a bit of time to get used to it, but the results are really worthy.