Google Reader’s demise has left us scrambling for a new — and hopefully better — way to keep up with the feeds from our favorite websites. There’s tons of new online RSS services, NetNewsWire has come back from the brink of death, and the read-later app ReadKit has emerged as the best Mac app if you want to sync with the best online RSS reading services.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s not room for competition for RSS readers on the Mac; quite the opposite, in fact. There’s so many new online RSS services, we had to trim down the our list considerably to feature only the best Google Reader alternates. On the Mac, the two apps mentioned above are almost all most people would think of for RSS reading on the Mac.
But there’s another new app that is easily one of the top contenders: Caffeinated 2. Our former editor Josh Johnson declared the original Caffeinated beta “a fresh Google Reader app that you’ll love”. Now, just over 18 months later, the same is still true if you replace “Google Reader” with “standalone RSS reader”.
Built for Reading
Caffeinated was originally designed to sync with Google Reader and show your articles in a nice Mac interface, just like most RSS readers were prior to 2013. Caffeinated 2 retains the nice interface touches that set it apart originally, but this time relies on its own sync engine to get your articles to your Mac. And it works good: Caffeinated can import your Google Reader export and sync all your unread articles in seconds, likely faster than older versions (or other apps) ever synced your Google Reader feeds. Just as I noted when reviewing NetNewsWire 4 beta, local syncing can be really fast, and Caffeinated proves this again.
Reading your feeds on your Mac should be nicer than on the web, of course, but Caffeinated goes out of its way to make your reading experience just like you want. You can pick from 5 included themes to customize your reading experience, or make your own HTML and CSS based theme for Caffeinated. Then, you can tweak further by right-clicking in the article view, where you’ll find font and formatting options that let you tweak everything from the font face and size to line height and font smoothing. The only thing keeping it from being a perfect reading experience is that you can’t close out the left two columns — but then, with RSS reading, that shouldn’t be too big of an issue.
Caffeinated’s settings are another place where you’ll find options for almost anything you want to set. It uses Google Reader-style j/k shortcuts for reading by default, but you can tweak them and any of the other keyboard shortcuts to anything you want. You’ll also find options for everything from icon color, sync speed, unread count, notifications and more. It’s perhaps the most tweakable Mac RSS reader yet, and if you’re picky about how your dock looks and how often your RSS reader sends you notifications, this is a definite plus.
Everything Under One Roof
If there’s one area Caffeinated truly excels, it’s at sharing and saving your favorite articles. It has a built-in option to star articles, which keeps them in Caffeinated’s Stared list, but it also is integrated with almost every other tool for saving and sharing articles you can think of: web services like Evernote and Instapaper, local Mac options like Safari Reading List and the OS X sharing options, and more. You can queue up Tweets in Buffer from Caffeinated, bookmark an article on Pinboard or Delicious, and share it everywhere — even on Google+. Sending full articles to Evernote works surprising well, and you won’t even have to sign into your account since it works directly with Evernote for Mac. These options truly set it apart, and make it one of the best tools if you want to do more with your feeds than just read through them.
Designed for the Mac.
Caffeinated is one of the best choices for RSS reading on the Mac if you just want to sync your RSS feeds on your Mac and couldn’t care less about signing up for another online syncing service or reading feeds on other devices. A lack of sync services is really the only thing you could point out as a “missing feature” in Caffeinated, and yet, that’s only a loss if you want to read RSS feeds on multiple devices. It may get Dropbox-based Mac-to-Mac sync in the future, according to its developer, Curtis Hard, but it’s main aim is being the best native Mac RSS reader.
And that’s fine. As Bret Simmons of NetNewsWire fame pointed out, “sync” often really means multiple versions of the same app on different platforms that all work together. That’s nice, but surely we can’t rule out apps these days just because they don’t have iOS versions. And even as nice as many of the new online RSS tools are, if you really only do your reading from the Mac, there’s no reason you should have to keep syncing with an online service.
So, if you just want to read your feeds on your Mac, you can’t go wrong with Caffeinated. It’s fast, customizable, and integrated with enough services that you’ll likely never have to switch to another app to save or share anything you read. Plus, it’s half the price of NetNewsWire 4, and 1/4th of its price post-launch — and you’ll never have to pay for a sync service since it’s just local on your Mac.
Plus, a Giveaway!
We’ve just closed our giveaway; congrats to our winners Marty, Renée, and Jim!
Best of all, we’ve got 3 copies of Caffeinated to giveaway to our readers. If you haven’t found an RSS reader for the Mac you like yet, leave a comment below and tell us what you’re most excited about in Caffeinated. We’ll pick 3 random winners on Friday, so hurry and get your entry in!
Envato staff or those who have written more than two articles or tutorials for AppStorm are ineligible to enter.