Quick Tips for Google Reader Power Users

I already told you many times I switched to Google Reader. There was not much convincing required and I can vouch easily that I read three times more feeds now in one third the time since I use Google Reader. So I thought I would tell you how I use Google Reader productively.

Here is the smart way I use to read feeds, primarily by using keyboard shortcuts. Probably you do it anyway. But it should be useful for new Google readers…

1. Increase vertical screen reading area – Press F11 and the browser goes full screen to remove unnecessary toolbars and menus. Lots of space is increased on top and bottom of the browser to increase vertical reading area.

2. Increase horizontal reading area
– Remove the Google Reader sidebar to gather even more reading space. Press U and behold as articles now fill the screen. Now lesser scrolling and a higher chance you can read the whole article in one go. Of course you could combine that with a high resolution screen, larger monitor to fit in even longer articles.

3. Switch to Read All Items – This the classical River of news approach. Press GA. I do not need to click each feed and check out their articles. Instead I see all of them one after the other as fast as I can. I keep the default setting “Sort by newest” so I can quickly keep going from latest to older articles I want to read. In settings, set your starting page to All Items, you can get started right away.

4. Switch to Expanded View – I like to quickly glance through all the articles text. Press 1. If you need to see the headlines only for even quicker overview – Press 2.

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5. Start Browsing fast – Now I want to quickly skip from one article to another till I reach an article I like to read further into. There are 3 ways to do this. In expanded view – You can skip from article to article – Press J to go forward, press K to go back. Alternatively you might want to skip from one screen view to another instead of one article to another – Press Space key to go forward, Shift+Space to go back. In listed view – Use N to go forward and P to go back.

In the settings I have opted to mark items as read when I scroll past them in expanded view. very useful. I have also selected to “only list updated” subscriptions in the sidebar, which removes clutter in the sidebar as blogs are read. This is another great feature that works automatically. I feel limited by the pause every 20 posts…I hope Google can fix this.

6. Star it, Share it, Tag it, Read it – After I reach an article I would like to refer later, there are 5 things I can do (In listed view I need to expand it first – press O). Now I can either star it for future reference – Press S (much like gmail, later you can see all starred items together). Or I can share it with others on a link blog – Press Shift+S, like the Robert Scoble link blog (which I recommended earlier). Or I can tag it – press T, add tags to organize your selections for further review. Or I can open it a new Firefox tab and read the full article – Press V (if it is a partial feed, or I just like the blog view, or I intend to comment). Or mark as unread – Press M (may need it sometimes).

7. Refresh – After you have pressed J enough times, you might just find that there are no more new items to read. So Press R and refresh the new items. Google Reader might have caught up more new items by now.

8. Check your Starred Items – Press GS to visit your starred items list. Your entire effort of the reading session is now consolidated in your starred items. Maybe you want to read these articles in details, or blog about them. As you skip through them, Press S to unstar them, or Shift+S to unshare them.

Style Variations

# Read Your favorite blog – Press U. Google reader sidebar is back. Now you can click on the blog you want to read and continue as usual. Click “List all” to see all your subscribed blogs.

# Mark all as read – Coming after a long vacation, you might not want to read thousands of feed articles. Press 2. Click “mark all as read”. Done

# View Old articles – Since you are set to view new articles, Click “Show All” to see all the articles.

# Got Lost – go to the google reader homepage. Press GH.

Advanced Techniques

# Shift to Auto-sort – this works by prioritizing subscriptions with fewer items. It will help you read more blogs with lesser posts before you decide to read those hundred posts on few larger blogs.

# Rename Subscriptions – Many blogs you subscribe to might have long titles (keyword stuffed SEO and all!). While you are reading the blog, click “feed settings” on top and rename the title to something small which fits in the Google sidebar.

# Bulk Edit Feeds – Go to manage subscriptions on the bottom of the Reader sidebar – and a power edit screen comes to play. Delete multiple feeds, categorize into folders, manage tags.

#Smart Ways to Subscribe – Drag this bookmarklet to your browser toolbar. When you want to subscribe any blog, click it. Of course you can locate the feed url and add it from the sidebar too.

# Import Your Feeds Easily – You need not subscribe all your feeds again when switching to Google Reader. Export OPML from your previous news aggregator, and import it via Import subscriptions (via manage subscriptions)

I hope you liked this article and it will help you use Google Reader better. I am sure many of you do this already… Share your Reader tip.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.

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