I've been using Feedly to manage my RSS feeds for about three years. When many web tools come and go in the blink of an eye, that's a heck of a long time. I first reviewed this tool shortly after the public beta opened in 2008. It's been one of my must-use tools ever since and it keeps getting better. And don't just take my word for it. With around 10,000 positive reviews and a similar number of likes on Facebook, I'm not the only one with Feedly Fever.
What is Feedly?
So what exactly is Feedly. Put simply, it's a better interface for Google Reader. Feedly is also available for Chrome, (both web app and extension), Firefox, Safari, Android, iPhone and iPad. You'll need a Google Account to get started (hasn't everyone got one these days?), but once that's done you will hardly ever need to look at Google Reader again. Once you have signed in, prepare to be amazed by Feedly's seamless integration as it imports and catalogues your feeds (known as sources in Feedly-speak). Everything you have setup in Google Reader is there, but it looks a thousand times better.
Feedly Menu Options – Part 1
Now, here is where things get tricky, because Feedly has so many features, that it will take a while to go through them all. (Don't say I didn't warn you. 🙂 ) The default Feedly interface gives you a magazine like start page with a menu along the left and another menu at the top. Here's what you'll get when you click on the left menu items.
- Cover – thumbnails, titles and descriptions for the most recent stories from the feeds you follow in the top part; a few posts from your categories in the middle; Twitter buzz and mentions in the bottom.
- What's New – updates from your featured sources, the latest few stories from each category and, if you've enabled it, Twitter and Facebook updates in the right column.
- Latest – my favorite view – a list of the latest updates from your sources in reverse chronological order.
- Saved – items you have saved (or starred in Google Reader).
- Category pages – links to the feed categories you use in Google Reader.
- Explore – stuff shared by some of the people you follow in Reader and Buzz.
- Contents – like a magazine contents page for your feeds.
- Shared – items you have shared.
- History – what you have looked at recently.
Feedly Menu Options – Part 2
The top navigation menu is where you can customize what you see. It includes your Google account email address, an upgrade link (which at the time of writing takes you to different versions of Feedly) and a link to the Feedly tour. More importantly, it contains a link to the edit menu (nine little squares) where you can manage your feeds. From here you can:
- subscribe to new feeds (clicking the add box brings up a menu from which you can search for feeds to add, along with some suggestions).
- create a new category by dragging and dropping a source.
- unsubscribe from feeds.
- edit subscription details (for example, if you wanted to rename your feeds to something more memorable).
- change options such as opening feeds directly on the site instead of using the built-in Feedly preview.
- mark a feed as a favorite.
- have an at-a-glance view of how many unread posts there are for each feed.
The real biggie is the preferences menu which is where you tailor Feedly to your needs. Included in the menu are:
- your choice of start page.
- color choice for read links.
- sharing settings (Twitter, Google and emailing, including choosing a Google Apps domain to email from).
- mini-toolbar settings (more on that in a while).
- side area customization (including the inclusion of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr modules, Facebook comments and more.
- tweaks to reading, scrolling and layout functions..
Feedly In Action
This may seem like a lot to take in, but using Feedly is really simple. I have set my default startup view to latest posts. I click on a post title to see a preview. This gives me the whole post unless the originating site has partial RSS feeds enabled. In that case, I can click the preview version to see the whole post as it appears on the site. Is that awesome or what! I can share, save for later or open the post in a new tab (I'm running the Chrome web app version of Feedly) and from the regular view I can choose to mark a post as unread. I can also:
- click a like button and see how many people have liked the post – this is NOT Facebook's like and I'm still trying to find out where those likes go – possibly to my Google Reader followers as recommendations.
- Share on the major social media and social bookmarking sites .
- comment and have it show up on Facebook. This is also supposed to allow you to comment as one of your pages, but when I tested it, the feature didn't work. Posting to my personal Facebook profile worked well and I love this new feature for tighter social media integration.
- visit the page for an individual blog, by clicking on the blog title, and add it as a favorite (so it shows up higher in my featured sources). In this view you can also get information about tags applied to the blog, similar blogs, and stats for posts and followers – sweet!
- use the menu near the view title to mark all as read, refresh or customize the view.
Feedly Mini – A Great Addition
Remember that feature I said I would save for later? It's Feedly mini, a customizable menu that pops up on web pages with feeds. Click the little grey Feedly icon and you get options to like, save, email the page or share on Twitter, Facebook or your favorite sources (customizable via the preferences menu). You can see how many people are following the blog and follow it too. Using the Follow button gives you the option to add the feed to a category or mark it as a favorite. And the Feedly mini box also suggests other feeds you might like. Without a doubt, this is one of Feedly's best features, introduced since my original review, and it's one I use often.
Other Feedly Features
I also like the fact that one of my requested features has recently been implemented. Even though it doesn't always work, sometimes when you tweet from within Feedly, the person's Twitter handle appears automatically in the tweet, which is a time saver.
And did I mention that the search features are awesome?! Use the search box and not only will it find your keywords in the feeds you follow but in a selection of news sources and on Amazon, making Feedly a great research tool as well.
The only thing on my Feedly wishlist at the moment would be integration with a scheduling program like Triberr or Buffer – then I'd never need to leave the Feedly interface at all.
My final word? Feedly offers unparallelled (in my view) RSS feed management, social sharing and blog search options. If you're not using Feedly yet, you should be!