Tag Archives: Web Aggregator

Getting started with Google Reader

Google Reader is a truly wonderful thing once you get used to it. It can save you no end of time, improving productivity and really is so simple to learn. Everyone who uses the internet and reads content from different websites can benefit from getting their head around Google Reader so I thought it would be useful to write a quick post to help people get the most of this tool.

What is Google Reader?

Google Reader is a web based aggregator which reads RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication).

If you’re interested in how RSS works then read about the science bit here. Or check the Google Reader blog here. Otherwise lets just get on to how to use it!

How do I use it?

Set yourself up with a Gmail account if you don’t already have one, and then on the menu bar along the top left where you can see ‘Images, Videos etc’ click on ‘More’ and then ‘Reader’. This takes you to your Google Reader page which you will now start to personalise and fill with what interests you from the web.

Now have a think about which websites and blogs you regularly read or like to visit to keep up to date with new posts and articles.

Lets say, for example, that you are interested in films and often visit the Guardian website to read their reviews. Go to the Guardian website and find the page you want.

 This is the universal icon for RSS. Look for this RSS symbol on the web page and click on it. It is in the top right on this screen shot, but can sometime be found on either side of the page or sometimes at the bottom – you just have to scan the page and have a hunt really! Sometimes, there may be several RSS icons for different feeds within the website, just choose the one related to what interests you.

Guardian screenshotWhen you click on the icon, you may see a page that looks like something has gone terribly wrong but don’t worry – it (probably) hasn’t! All you need to do then is highlight the URL at the top (which will be the same URL as the website you were on before but followed by ‘/rss’) then ‘copy’, open the Google Reader tab then click on the red ‘subscribe button’ and paste the URL into it and click ‘add’.

You have then added the feed to Google Reader and every time the Guardian website updates it’s content on this page, you have that information in Google Reader without having to visit the Guardian website. Once you have completed the same process for all of the websites and blogs that interest you, you have all of this information in one place; a personalised page without having to trawl the internet looking for information! Sometimes you may see a Google Reader button (below) which you can use instead of clicking on the RSS icon.

Once you have several feeds in Google Reader it is worth organising them into folders. This is done by hovering your cursor over the title of the feed on the left hand side and then clicking on the little triangle that appears to it’s right and choosing a folder to put it in, or create a new folder. There are also other options here to play around with and customise how you would like Google Reader to organise feeds for you.

It really is worth spending some time and putting the effort into filling Google Reader with feeds because it will save you hours in the long run! Now every time you visit it, you have the latest relevant web content to scan through and just click on the ones you want to read. Your page will look something like this.

I really hope this has been useful. Tweet me with any questions @social_brighton and I’ll do my best to help!

Please let me know how you get on!