7 Google Reader Tips and Tricks

I love Google Reader. The end.

I switched from Bloglines to Google Reader a few weeks ago, and my life has forever changed for the better. Here’s the list of tips and tricks from what I’ve discovered so far.

  1. Use the bookmarklet With the Google Reader iconWhen you save the bookmarklet to your bookmark bar, it doesn’t by default have an icon, because the source url is javascript. There’s a simple workaround:
    1. Save a bookmark to Google Reader homepage.
    2. Click the bookmark once to make Firefox load the icon
    3. Edit the bookmark, and copy/paste the javascript from the Location field in the bookmarklet into the new bookmark.
    4. You can also change the Name of the bookmarklet to something else to indicate that it is a bookmarklet. For instance, I use the + symbol as the Name so that I can tell the difference between the regular bookmark and the bookmarklet:
  2. Install the GreaseMonkey Extension for firefox.This is critical… GreaseMonkey is an awesome extension for Firefox, and is required for the next item:
  3. Install the GreaseMonkey Smart Subscribe scriptThe Smart Google Reader Subscribe script will tell you if the page you are on has already been added to your subscriptions. This is invaluable if you already have 250 subscriptions and can barely remember if you’ve subscribed to the page you are reading.The script will also let you subscribe to any feeds that are listed in the meta tags on the page, which is the mechanism that allows the browser to detect the feeds.When you go to a web page that has an RSS feed, you will see this icon in the upper right hand corner of the Firefox window:

    If you hover your mouse over the icon, you’ll see the list of feeds that page offers. My blog only offers the main feed by default, so you’ll see this:

    But if you’ve already subscribed to a feed, you will see this icon instead, with a check mark over it:

    This is really useful as you start adding more and more feeds to your collection.

  4. Learn to use the Shortcut Keys.Navigating using the shortcut keys makes things so much simpler. Here’s a list of the easiest keys to remember, and the ones I use most:
    1. ga – Go to all items view.
    2. gs – Go to Starred Items.
    3. gu – Open up Ajax’y dialog to quickly select a particular feed.
    4. gt – Open up Ajax’y dialog to quickly select a tag
    5. s – Star an item
    6. n – Navigate to next item without opening it
    7. p – Navigate to previous item without opening it
    8. j – Open next item
    9. k – Open previous item
    10. o – Open / Close item
    11. r – Refresh. (I think I’ve worn out this key)
    12. t – Pop up dialog box letting you assign a tag to an item. Very cool.
    13. Shift+A – Mark all as read.
  5. Start Tagging Items For Later

    Let’s say you are reading a post, and realize that it would make a great blog topic, but you don’t have the time right then to mess with it. Hit the t key, and pop in “toblog” into the textbox to save the item for later.Later on that day, it’s time to start blogging. Simply hit the “gt” key combination, and up pops a great little Ajax’y goodness dialog that lets you easily select the tag you are looking for:This is most useful if you want to be able to tag a lot of items that you don’t necessarily need to read for a while. You could also use the Starred Items feature, but I tend to use that for things I actually am planning on reading thoroughly later.
  6. Share Items With FriendsGoogle reader lets you mark items to share with your friends. You get your own custom URL and your own RSS feed of shared items.To start sharing items, just click the Share link at the bottom of the item, or hit the Shift+s key combination:

    If you go to your Shared items folder, Google will give you your own custom web URL and RSS feed for these items. You can then share that with your friends.

  7. Share Items With Your Blog Readers

    The sharing feature goes one step further… Google lets you copy and paste some javascript code into your page, and presto! Your shared items show up on your blog or web page. You can find this feature on the “Shared Items” page in Reader.Since I just moved over to this new blog, I’ll just show you a screenshot of how this looks, instead of a live demo. (still have to get things in order here)

    There’s a bunch of color schemes you can choose from, so don’t worry about the drab colors…

34 Responses to “7 Google Reader Tips and Tricks”

  1. seamonkey420 Says:

    very nice find! :)

    just got google reader and added it to my google homepage. looks like i’ll have to try out the greasemonkey extension in firefox this weekend.

    i admit it, i think i’m a google-fanboy too! hahah..

  2. davak Says:

    Very nice hints. I’ve still been using blogbridge and feeddemon. For some reason I can bring myself to use a web only feed reader.

  3. melochord Says:

    Love the Bookmarklet hack – briliant!

    Now I can add a favicon to TinyURL as well.

  4. Johnny Says:

    The shortcut/hotkey support in Google Reader makes it even easier to use than a desktop client.

    I’m very much a keyboard kinda guy… if there was a desktop client that let me control everything easily from the keyboard, I would probably have been using it.

    The other thing about using Google reader is the ability to easily hack/extend it with Greasemonkey. There’s a ton of scripts out there.

  5. Aerik Says:

    I like how Google Reader can seamlessly nest all the things you want to share on the web together. You can put your google shared items to your blog; you can also put your del.icio.us hotlist to your blog; del.icio.us can routinely be updated to include your stumble-upon favorites; you can use google reader to share your del.icio.us profile and your stumbleupon profile, as well as reddit and digg, and CoComment/Haloscan.

    Put all this together with how you can share items with google reader, a single feed (shared google reader items) can simultaneously share what you’re into on Del.icio.us, reddit, digg, newsvine, stumbleupon, and even your comment feeds.

    that’s hot.

  6. trevor manternach Says:

    great tips. The gu shortcut is awesome! just one thing you might want to fix, in #5 (tagging) you said to press “gu” to bring up the tags, that should be “gt”.

  7. Johnny Says:

    trevor,

    good catch! Typo fixed!

  8. Eugene Says:

    Thank you for the tips! I love Google Reader and did not know about this greasemonkey plugin. Its much appreciated!

  9. Shahin Says:

    Great Note about greasmonkey
    this is really useful

  10. Gareth Says:

    There’s one problem with the sharing feature. The page created forces a set width for posts, which results in photos being cut in half, example: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/07020086533971149680?c=CJOT1tum4IcCMBs

    So I stopped using it and started adding things to del.icio.us instead.

    That greasemonkey script looks good though, going to install that when I get home tonight.

  11. Johnny Says:

    Gareth,

    What I like about the sharing feature is the RSS feed that they give you. You could format that feed on your website any way that you want.

    They also give you the snippet feature that just puts the headlines on your site.

  12. dreadnaut Says:

    if anyone is looking for a bigger png/ico for Google Reader, I made one the other week :)

  13. Terinea Says:

    Just started using Google reader and needed some advice on making the best of it. Specially since I subscribe to too many RSS feeds.

  14. Jon Says:

    I still use Bloglines but mainly since Google Reader doesn’t have some of the small features that Bloglines has. For instance, I can tell Bloglines to sort my feeds from latest to earliest, that way I can get the original post first and then an update on it instead of the updated one first. Also, Google Reader, for me, still has some issues like not being able to unsubscribe from certain feeds no matter how many times I tell it to.

    I still use Google Reader and it definitely is one of the best feed readers out.

  15. bb Says:

    is it me, or does google reader just not work in IE7?

    and please, spare me the firefox flames.

  16. Ben Says:

    Don’t forget the shortcut key “u”, which collapses the subscriptions pane and makes the reading window wider. Priceless for small screens like my 12″ PB and by far the shortcut key I use most often.

  17. Markus Says:

    Great tips indeed! I also changed from bloglines to GoogleReader a few weeks ago and I don’t regret a single minute.

  18. Johnny Says:

    bb,

    What is this IE7 you speak of?

    =P

    I haven’t tried it in IE.

  19. Amy Says:

    Nice. Thanks. I also found the first tip helpful for several of my other bookmarklets.

  20. Max Rubin Says:

    Will these “tricks” work with IE6 ?
    I have been conservative in moving up to IE7.
    But then again most Microsoft products after all are Betas.

  21. MkaGGL Says:

    I use the starred and shared as to-do and hot lists, respectively. I star things as I go along; anything I want to get to right away–but later, I move to shared.

    And there’s a little trick I noticed one can do with the starred items. If you want to promote something to the top of the starred list, just unstar it and restar it.

  22. Johnny Says:

    Ben,

    That’s a great tip… I’ve got a very wide screen, so I haven’t used it, but now that I’ve tried it, I kinda like reading without the folders in the way.

  23. Johnny Says:

    MkaGGL,

    That starred items tip is cool… I hadn’t noticed that before.

    I just wish Google Reader had a proper search feature. I know there’s a greasemonkey script that lets you do blog searching, but I want to search through the items in my feeds the same way I search in gmail.

  24. Don't Understand Says:

    Not sure what you mean or how to do what you describe in no. 1. Is there another way to describe what needs to be done?
    TIA

  25. Reto Says:

    Feeds itself can also be tagged (a bit cumbersome via “Manage subscriptions”) which shows up as a structured view of the feeds in the left column.

  26. Reto Says:

    Stupid smiley replacement … should be \”\).

  27. Gray B. Says:

    Cool beans. Thanks for the words.

  28. Mark L Says:

    I didn’t get the “Use the bookmarklet With the Google Reader icon” part. Doesnt’ the Greaemonkey script let you add feeds Greader? Or were you talking about some other bookmarklet?

  29. Johnny Says:

    Mark,

    I was talking about the google subscribe bookmarklet. There are times when a feed isn’t auto-detected by the greasemonkey script. Also, some people don’t use greasemonkey and would only use the bookmarklet.

  30. Greg Says:

    WHOA. WTF is Bloglines, Google Reader and GreaseMonkey?
    this new technology man is greek. i just use a browser and surf the net.

  31. whatevernevermind Says:

    Awesome! You just made me switch from NetNewsWire to Reader. I originally tried it when it was first released and it was a nightmare. Clearly it’s matured quite a bit. It handled my 300+ subscriptions no problem. I finally organized my feeds so I could be a little more productive. Thanks again for this list.

  32. engtech Says:

    Any idea how to turn off the sharing of your name with Google Reader?

  33. Skip Says:

    The GreaseMonkey Smart Subscribe script seems to take away the “Feed Settings” drop down button just above the reader portion of Google Reader when on the Google Reader page. Bummer. FF2, WXPSP2

  34. Jason Says:

    Nice tips – hey if anyone knows how to do this – I love gReader, except for one annoying thing: if an RSS post isn’t formatted in HTML, it gets trimmed to the first I don’t know, 200 characters? Is there anyway to force gReader to output the whole post? I hate having to just click back to the blog on every post – kind of defeats the purpose of an RSS reader, no?