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Now You’re Going to Love ReadKit

 [ReadKit for Mac][]

Some of us just can’t stop reading. That’s why we use services like Google Reader. I want to read, yet at the same time I don’t want to feel obligated to mark all items as read. I’m talking about the unread items count lingering on your Home screen and dock icon.

In order to improve our reading experience, we need to create a cleaner reading environment. ReadKit is the only app that provides this level of customization.

With the death of Google Reader, you might be wondering which RSS services you should use. It comes down to preferences. Most of the bloggers1 I follow recommend Feed Wrangler. Their main reason to use Feed Wrangler is its smart stream feature. To put it simply, smart stream is basically a folder with a set of rules for your feeds. Only feeds that fulfill the criteria will show up in created smart stream.

I’ve compared Feed Wrangler to Feedbin. In the end, I pick Feedbin. The reason? I want to organize my feeds in folders, grouped in folders. That’s it. No smart streams, no filters. Just a plain old school Google Reader tagging.

What if I don’t want to pay? An alternative would be Feedly. They also have a paid plan if you need more advanced features. The free plan doesn’t stop you from using their services like the usual Google Reader though.

Remember the useful smart stream I mentioned earlier? You can actually get it in ReadKit. It’s known as smart folder. Smart folder is the same as Feed Wrangler’s smart stream. The only difference is smart folder lives locally, not synced across all your devices.

I’m going to show you how ReadKit can help you follow all the news without feeling overwhelmed. Chance is you’re going to discover the joy of staying updated once again.

Core Smart Folders Setup

These are the list of smart folders almost everyone need to create at first:

Unread: It can also be called Slow Feeds. This smart folder compiles all the important feeds, usually 2–3 posts every week, you haven’t read in one place. It’s a quick way to see all your favorite sites’ updates in one location. Slow Feeds can be created by excluding sites with frequent updates. You can see the example below.

 [Unread Folder in ReadKit for Mac][]

Starred: This smart folder lists all your favorited articles.

 [Starred Folder in ReadKit for Mac][]

Past Week: This is a smart folder to show all the permanent unread items2 in read later services I’ve saved in the past week.

 [Past Week Folder in ReadKit for Mac][]

There are many rules you can use to create a smart folder that cater your interests. The smart folder is usually topical. You might want to list all the articles that contain “iOS 7” from some feeds. That’s actually part of the Feed Wrangler’s smart stream feature. But ReadKit’s smart folder is more powerful because it can also exclude keywords from specific feeds, a feature which is not available yet in Feed Wrangler.3

The only drawback with smart folders is you can’t bring your smart folders to your mobile devices. Feed Wrangler is still the best option for this setup if you need them available on your iPhone and iPad.

Keeping It Lean and Clean

Since ReadKit is designed to support many reading services at once, you might want to make some tweaks. I keep the read items stored for only one day, usually as references while working on the article, or simply want to check out what have been published yesterday. I also prefer to sync feeds manually. To complete this setup, you should enable local image caches to speed up everything.

Reading should be a pleasant activity. If you feel rushed to mark all items as read, then something is definitely wrong. The rule of enjoyable reading experience is not knowing how much unread items left. That’s it. Turn off your unread item counts on icons, feeds, and folders.

See? You simply read when you launch ReadKit. Take a deep breath because you’ve just lifted the heaviest boulder from using RSS.

This is the icing part. Keep the list height minimum so post titles are the only one left — great for small screen. Always align the text to left. I use Optima Regular 18 as my font choice. As for the line height and width, follow the preferences below:

ReadKit might not be the best reader app for Mac out there. But judging from the number of services they’ve added and improvements they’ve made this past few months make me realize that they do care what they build.

We always have expectations of what an app and services can do, but we must also understand that implementing features requires time and decision. Try to find a way to make your existing app works and find the joy of learning to use it.

So, did I manage to persuade you to buy ReadKit?

  1. We have Shawn Blanc and Marco Arment. Guess that’s enough as references.

  2. There is no need to mark items as read. If it’s read, it’s read. Why create additonal step that doesn’t add value into your reading experience?

  3. Feed Wrangler uses filter to automatically mark item containing keywords as read. A feature you need to use carefully in order to not filter out posts you might find interesting.