Keeping RSS Feeds in Sync with NetNewsWire

Over the past few years, RSS has become the de-facto way to remain connected to a website without re-visiting it every few days. News items and new posts are ‘pushed’ to you automatically, and can be easily collated into one application for quick viewing.

There are two primary ways to manage RSS subscriptions – either through a website such as Google Reader, or via a desktop application such as NetNewsWire or NewsFire. All of these are free solutions, but offer different advantages depending upon how you work.

Today I’ll be explaining a simple way to enjoy the speed of a desktop application, the convenience of web access, and portability of reading on your iPhone – all using NetNewsWire.

I use RSS on a regular basis, and aim to check all my subscriptions at least once or twice per day. The difficulty is that I never know when the free time to catch up on news will crop up during my day. It could be when sat at my desk, waiting for a bus, cooking a meal, or even at someone else’s computer! I need a solution that offers access anywhere, but will update the articles that I’ve read centrally so that I don’t need to go through them all again when I return home.

Whilst a purely web based solution such as Google Reader could allow this, I really enjoy the speed and integration of a desktop app. Fortunately, NetNewsWire is capable of achieving just what I need.

Desktop Access

NetNewsWire on OS X

NetNewsWire on OS X

The best place to start is with the desktop application. It’s completely free to download, and offers a simple way to view and manage all your feeds. You can also import your subscriptions from a previous application if desired.

To ensure that your feeds are synced with the NetNewsWire server – NewsGator – open Preferences and browse to the Syncing tab:

Setting up Syncing

Setting up Syncing

You’ll need to create an account with NewsGator if you don’t have one already, then login to link the account with your copy of NetNewsWire. The first time you sync, be sure to select ‘Replace Subscriptions on NewsGator’ to upload those already added locally.

Once set up, any activity performed in NetNewsWire will be mirrored back to the central server. This provides the central access point which can then be used for browsing your feeds via the web, or on your iPhone.

Web Access

The website used to access news online is NewsGator. You login with the account created previously, and should be able to view and read all your subscriptions through their web interface:

NewsGator Online

NewsGator Online

Whilst this certainly isn’t as full featured as Google Reader (I wouldn’t want to use NewsGator as my sole RSS tool) the solution is perfectly usable when away from your own computer. Changes are kept in sync reliably, and a variety of display options allow you to customize the look and feel of the web application.

iPhone Access

The final point of access is likely to be a mobile device. For me, this is an iPhone, although another solution is available if you’re using a different mobile phone.

The iPhone client is available for free via the App Store, and will ask for your NewsGator account details when opened for the first time. After downloading all your subscriptions and articles, the interface allows you to quickly and easily flick through the latest news:

NetNewsWire for iPhone

NetNewsWire for iPhone

The iPhone app has come a long way over the past year, but isn’t perfect just yet. I’d like to see the ability to browse older news articles with greater ease, and a few more customization options for the interface. The most important aspect – syncing – works remarkably well, and I rarely find myself re-reading articles when I’m back at a desktop machine.


If you are a regular RSS user, you owe it to yourself to find an integration solution that provides central access from multiple devices. Whether this is a simple web app such as Google Reader, or a synchronized solution such as the one outlined here, it will save you bundles of time and annoyance at reading the same news several times.

All the applications mentioned here are completely free, so it’s worth giving a few options a go to see what works for you. I’m intrigued to hear which applications you use – feel free to share in the comments!