Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wotw: Feed me... Google Reader

Good day! Continuing on with Feed Me month, today we'll cover the basics of Google Reader. You can catch up on previous Feed Me segments here:
Why start with Google Reader?
In my opinion, backed by Feedburner statistics, Google Reader is the most commonly used feed reader. Many other feed readers, such as Feedly that we'll talk about next week, use Google Reader as their starting point, so Google Reader is the a good place to start if you're just diving in to the world of feed readers. Remember, though -- Google Reader isn't my primary feed reader. So if I miss something or get something completely wrong, have mercy and correct me kindly. :)

This is Google Reader:
I know it doesn't look like anything amazing, but, if you've never tried it, you should. (Remember these reasons?) Now, to get you started...

Adding a blog to your reader is called a subscription, just like your newspaper delivery. Subscribe to a new blog (or other site) by clicking the Subscribe button in the top left corner and entering the blog or site's URL in the box that opens:

You can see and edit your subscriptions by clicking the little blue Manage Subscriptions link in the bottom left corner.

Reading Your Subscriptions
All of the updates from your subscriptions will show in the larger right pane of Google Reader. You'll use the options in the left pane to control what you see in the right pane.
  • Home view shows a few recent updates.
  • All Items shows you all of the new items in your reader, either as a list or expanded to the full post (you decide which by choosing either List or Expanded from the top right corner of the reading area).
  • Or, click on the blog title or group name (more below on creating a group) in the lower left section to see only the posts from that blog or group.
If you want to visit the original post (and remember how you should?), just click the double-arrow icon to the right of the post title. To search for an item in your reader (such as one that you loved but forgot to bookmark), use the search box at the top left.

You'll use the other menus and options at the top of the reading area to control other settings, such as marking items as read. Your selection will affect all of the posts that you are currently viewing: all posts if you're in All Items, or just the posts from that blog or group if you're selected that. Sometimes after a weekend away, your reader can be daunting. I give you full permission to use Mark All As Read at your fullest discretion. :)

Marking all as read is also handy when you have a new subscription. Some new feeds will give you the last ten posts, some the last ten days, and some everything ever published. I usually choose to mark all as read that are older than one day and then go straight to the blog if I want to catch up on posts older than that.

The other useful menu at the top of the reading area is Feed Settings. Using these settings you can sort your new items -- oldest first, newest first, or magic sorting -- as well as rename, unsubscribe, or translate a subscription. You'll also use the Feed Settings menu for...

Creating a Group (Folder)
Once you have a handful of blog subscriptions, you might want to group them. Then you can choose to read only that group of blogs at the time. Subscriptions can be in multiple groups, so you can categorize by topic and by level of must-read-ness (yup, the vocabulary centers of my brain are hard at work this morning...), if you want.

To create a group, click Feed Settings and select New Folder.
Enter the name of the folder, and voila! You're on your way to organizing your folders. You'll also be able to select your existing folders and add your subscriptions to them using the Feed Settings menu.

If you're going to be categorizing many subscriptions at once, click the Manage Subscriptions link in the bottom left and use the drop-down menu for each subscription there.

Starring, Sharing, and Liking
Google Reader is meant not just for reading -- it's also for sharing what you read. You have three options in Google Reader: starring, sharing, and liking.

Starring is a private way to flag items in your reader. You'll see any item you star in your Starred Items. Star an item by clicking the little star to the left of the item title.

The first time you share an item,
you'll see this. Click here to learn more
about sharing in Google Reader.

Sharing lets you share items publicly or with a group of friends. You can also add a note to your shared items, such as "This is great!" or "We should all get together and do this sometime" or whatever else floats your boat. You'll see the items you've shared in Shared Items and notes in Notes. (Pretty self-explanatory, eh?) To share an item, click Share or Share with Note at the bottom of the post you want to share. You can read more about sharing here and sharing with notes here in the Google Reader help forums.

Adding a note to a shared post is easy!

The first time you like an item,
you'll see this. Click here to learn more
about sharing in Google Reader.
Liking in Google Reader is kind of like liking in Facebook -- a passive way of showing that you appreciate, approve of, or savor (thank you thesaurus!) a post in your reader. Like (or unlike) a post by clicking Like at the bottom of the post. A liked post won't be automatically shared with anyone like a shared post is, but other people reading that post in their readers will see X people like this. Liking is always public -- sharing isn't.

So... there's the basics of Google Reader, as determined by yours truly. Google Reader lovers... what have I forgotten?

I'll be back next week with the basics of Feedly, my one true love and my primary feed reader. In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving and beginning of the holiday season! Black Friday, anyone? :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.


elizabeth @ twelvecrafts said...

I actually understood that! Thanks a bunch!

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

OK, I think I'm starting to kind of get this stuff now:)