With the closure of Google Reader just around the corner, the switch to a new Google Reader replacement needs to happen soon. We’ve been looking at a lot of feed readers over the last few weeks and the next reader in line for a review is NetNewsWire.

NetNewsWire isn’t a web service. Instead, it’s an application that you install on your Mac, iPad or iPhone. The application makes it easy to view and manage your Google Reader subscriptions, but with that service closing what will happen to NetNewsWire?

NetNewsWire has been around for a long time but hasn’t received an update since October 2011. But according to the owners of NetNewsWire, Black Pixel, they have been hard at work updating the Mac client and the iPad and iPhone apps. The most important feature they’re working on is syncing feeds between devices. This is a service that should be a standard feature of any feed reader today.

Let’s see if NetNewsWire is worth a look in its current release.

Install and setup your feeds

Getting started with NetNewsWire is simple. Since there’s no web app component you don’t need to create an account. Just download the client and copy it to your Applications folder.

When you first open the app it will ask you to sync with your Google Reader feed. However, when Google Reader is shut down the syncing obviously won’t continue.


It might be best instead to export your Google Reader feed and then import it directly into NetNewsWire via the “File/Import Feeds” menu item. This way your feeds will be managed by NetNewsWire instead of with Google.


News consumption

With NetNewsWire setup and your feeds imported, you can start consuming content. NetNewsWire features a basic layout with your subscriptions appearing in a sidebar on the left. Subscriptions are contained in folders, just like in Google Reader. Feeds are sorted by Name by default, but that can be changed under the “View” menu.


On the right side of the screen, the app is split into top and bottom sections. The sections are re-sizable. The top displays a list of news items in that folder and the bottom section displays the news item.


If you’re thinking that the application resembles an ugly and out of date mail client, then you’re right. The design is pretty ugly, it looks like Microsoft Outlook circa 2002. Hopefully, big improvements in the design will be made before the next release.

You can change the default look of the feed via the Preferences. Go to “Preferences/Browsing/News Items” and change the default stylesheet. Unfortunately, most of the styles are pretty ugly. I settled on Monochromania, but you can also add a custom stylesheet.


The good thing about having a native Mac client is that you can change a lot of the default settings under preferences, such as fonts, behaviors and where to download feeds for locals storage.


NetNewsWire also features tabbed browsing, so you can open multiple news items in one window. You can also open feeds in the built-in browser or in your default browser.



NetNewsWire has some useful features and is easy to use. Unfortunately, it’s a let down by an ugly and dated design. And the lack of a syncing feature with other devices or a web app. There’s a lot of changes that need to be made before the next update.

But if you’re a bit of a power user when it comes to using RSS feeds then NetNewsWire might be a good choice. It’s fast and robust with plenty of features.

NetNewsWire has ad-supported free versions and premium versions, for Mac, iPad, and iPhone and depending on what you’re looking for could be your Google Reader replacement.

Download NetNewsWire.