I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Using Google Reader to Organize the Blogs you Follow (Tips and Tricks)

I follow a huge number of blogs, over 500!!! Without being organized, I don’t think I could possibly keep up with everything, let alone manage to comment as often as I wish (I still don’t manage that anyway, but at least I can dream, right).

(Source)
If you’re subscribed to more than, say, 10 or 15 blogs (which is most of us here), think seriously about signing up for Google Reader. If you have a Gmail account, you'll have access to Reader already, just click on the “Reader” link at the top left of the Gmail page. If you don’t have Gmail, you should be able to sign up for a Google Account and get Reader that way.

The default setting for Google Reader means that all blogs you “Follow” using Google Friend Connect, or subscribe to using RSS feed, will automatically appear in your Google Reader. You can skim blog posts in Reader, and decide which you want to open and comment on, which you will read without commenting, and which you want to skip reading this time around. Check out some of the shortcut keys I’ve listed below to make things even quicker.

You can also organize your subscriptions in Reader, so you can choose which particular type of blogs you look at on Tuesday evenings, say. I’ve found this SOOOO useful; I couldn’t keep up with all the blogs I follow otherwise. Here’s a (hopefully) simple “how to”:

Organizing Google Reader:

Sorting your subscriptions

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but you can pull up a list of all the blogs you’ve subscribed to and organize them into folders. If you’re running short of time, or need to prioritize which posts you look at first, you can pull up just the blogs in a particular folder and read through those (and leave the other posts for another time/day).

To organize your subscriptions into folders

(1) Go to “Settings” at the top right of your Google Reader page


(2) Click on “Reader Settings”


(3) Click on “Subscriptions”. This will pull up a list of all the blogs you subscribe to



(4) Select the box beside the blog you want to “organize” (red circle). You can select multiple blogs at once. Then go over to the “Change Folders” drop-down menu (blue circle)



(5) In the drop-down menu, either click on the folder you want to put the selected blog in (if you’ve already created a folder) or else hit “New Folder” and name the folder when the pop-up box appears. I called my new folder “Crusaders”. You can then click on the “Crusaders” option in the drop-down menu, and the blog(s) you selected will be allocated to the “Crusaders” folder in Google Reader



(6) Once you’ve organized all the subscriptions, click on “Back to Google Reader”



Choosing only a certain category of blog to read

To search for the posts in a particular folder (after you’ve organized your folders as per the above):

(1) Click the drop-down menu labelled “All items” in the top left of Google Reader



(2) Select the folder you wish to search

(3) Press search

(4) Read away :)

Much easier, I think!

Using Google Reader:

Shortcuts


There are a lot of shortcut keys you can use to make life easier. Here are some of the ones I use the most:

s – Stars or un-stars an item (to save it for later)
j/k – Selects the next/previous item in the list
r – Refresh
Shift+A – Mark all as read
o – Open / Close item (in list view)
v - opens the original source for an article in a new window
f – toggles reading list to full screen mode and back
1 - displays the subscription as expanded items
2 - displays the subscription as a list of headlines
? - displays a quick guide to all of Reader's shortcuts

Searching within feeds

This is also very useful. You can use the search bar at the top of Google Reader to search through the feeds you've subscribed to. Matching items are displayed in either Expanded View or List View, depending on the way you usually use Reader (1 and 2 in the shortcut keys above). The search terms will be highlighted so you can scan them quickly.

(ETA) Subscribing to blogs with no RSS button

Jordan pointed this out in the comments below (thanks so much):

If you just want to subscribe rather than follow, blogs often have buttons to subscribe to their RSS feeds. You can click on that and choose the option to read it in Google Reader.

If a blog doesn't have an RSS button, copy its URL, go to Google Reader, click the Add Subscription button and paste the URL.

I hope these tips and tricks help you out.

How about you: do you use Google Reader or another program to organize your subscriptions? Do you know any other useful tips or tricks?

76 comments:

Trisha said...

Dude! I had no idea you could use Google REader for this. REVOLUccccccciON baby. :D Thanks for sharing!

Jessica Bell said...

Google Reader is so useful! I follow over 600 blogs. And I just started using it THIS WEEK. I'm already finding it so much easier to navigate what I want to read. AND I find I want to read more because I automatically have the text in front of me. :O)

Kari Marie said...

OMG! Thanks for this!

Diane said...

Another friend of mine uses this and likes it. Will look into it, thanks! :O)

Gary Baker said...

Google reader's great for skimming but I can't figure out how to add comments to someone's post without reloading the page. Am I missing something?

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Thanks for the tips! I already use Google Reader, but it looks like there's plenty to learn about all of its features!

Dominic de Mattos said...

Wow Rach - thanks for sharing.

I'll go have a play!

:Dom

Will Burke said...

OMG, this is so helpful! And it will be even more helpful as the Cruesade goes on.

Tanya Reimer said...

Oh I just knew there was better way.

K. Howard said...

Thank you thank you thank you! I've never heard of this before, but I'll be sure to use it in the future! Wow~

Charity Bradford said...

I love google reader because it does save so much time. My only hangup? I wish they would let us put the blog in a folder at the same time I push "follow"!

Sometimes when looking at a list of blogs there is a disconnect between my brain and the name of the blog. Where does that one go again?

Great post!

Tracy said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

I've been going crazy trying to figure a way to keep everything straight. I am SOO doing this!

Shari said...

I haven't used this, but I think I will now!

KO: The Insect Collector said...

This could not come at a better time, as I just signed up for about 200 new blogs to follow. Thanks for the tips!

Jess said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I've been struggling as I follow more and more Crusaders--it's great to get tips on organizing so I can stay on top of all the fantastic blogs I've found :)

L.A. Colvin said...

OMG. Are you spying on me? I literally clicked on Google Reader last night for the first time and was wondering how I could use it. Thank you so much!

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Oh snap! I wouldn't be able to manage all the blogs I follow w/out Google Reader either! Knowledge is power!

Angela Scott said...

I do use Google Reader but had no idea I could organize folders. Wonderful. I'm going to work on that today. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Christine said...

I love Google Reader. The fact that there's an app for my Android so I can keep up with my reading while on the go is awesome.

Carol Riggs said...

This is SO helpful, thanks! I'd been following in Google Reader but a)didn't know how to find the folders, and b)didn't know you could access it from Gmail, duh--I'd been accessing it through my Blogger dashboard.

Melissa Gill said...

My hero. I'm going to have to play around with this thing for sure. I've always wished I could do some of the things you mentioned, but didn't know how. You're awesome Rach!

Scheherazade said...

Wonderful suggestion. I was wondering how I was going to deal with that. Thanks so much.

Tony Benson said...

Thanks for some great ideas! I use Google Reader, but I'm not quite as organised as you are with it. It's starting to swamp me, so I really need to organise, otherwise I'll end up being a full time blogger!

Faith said...

Have you had any issues with blogs you follow not showing up in your RSS reader? It's happened to me many, many times... there are still some blogs out there I've "followed" but I'll never find them again because they didn't show up in Google reader. I don't know if it's a settings issue or a bug in my reader...

Tanya Reimer said...

Is it Ok if I link to this post for my followers? I think everyone should know this, it works, it really works.

Summer Ross said...

Hey there- just wanted to let you know on the crusader list # 159 is not coming up. It could just be on my end too- as I have been having a very difficult time today with following other peoples blogs and commenting.

LV said...

Ooh...I had no idea you could do this.

All the blogs I follow appear in a widget to the side of my blog, so I tend to check there for new posts in the evenings. I don't follow anywhere near 500 though. That's ambitious! :D

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

oh thank you thank you! I didn't fiddle around long enough when I tried to figure out how to do this on my own -- silly me for giving up, but thank you for showing me what I was missing!

Jordan McCollum said...

There are even easier ways to organize your subscriptions in Reader. On the main page of Google Reader, at the very bottom of the left-hand pane, there's a link that says Manage subscriptions. That takes you straight to the Subscriptions tab of the Settings.

Or, if you already have folders, you can drag and drop the subscriptions into folders right inside the left-hand pane of the main page.

I'm not sure that Following = Subscribing is the default. I've used Google Reader for almost 5 years, and I've never had a blog I Follow show up unless I subscribed, too. Maybe it has something to do with how long you've used Reader? Or a setting you get to select the first time you Follow a blog?

There's another reason why I always Subscribe instead of Follow: When you add a feed to your reader, you can instantly put it in a folder from the dropdown menu that says Feed Settings (above the news stories). (You can do this whenever you view stories from a specific feed, too.)

If you just want to subscribe, blogs often have buttons to subscribe to their RSS feeds. You can click on that and choose the option to read it in Google Reader. (If it doesn't have a button, copy its URL, go to Google Reader, click the Add Subscription button and paste the URL.)

HTH!

Misha said...

I will definitely give this a try.

:-)

Cherie Reich said...

Oh, wow, I so didn't know about Google reader. *goes to check it out now*

Akoss said...

This is amazing! Thanks for the tips.

JEFritz said...

Wow! This is great information! I'm so terrible at figuring out this stuff on my own. This is great to know. Thanks!

WritingNut said...

Great suggestion... this is very helpful!

tinadchayes said...

Thanks so much for this info! I also had no idea, but I spent the last 15 minute tinkering around with the reader settings. :)

Lois D. Brown said...

Love this! I just started using Google Reader a few days ago--every since your crusade actually. One question. Can you make a comment on a blog while your still in reader, or do you have to open up that blog and got to the bottom of it and comment? TIA

Erin said...

Okay, you are my hero for sharing this information and taking all of those screen shots to help the technology-challenged like myself! I didn't even know sorting subscriptions was possible! And those shortcuts are great!

Personally, I love the Google Reader app for my Droid. The ability to take my blogs on the go is amazing!!!

Quitting My Day Job

Donea Lee said...

I've been meaning to set this up!! Thanks for the reminder and the tips ~ :)

Rachael Harrie said...

Thanks so much for your comments guys, I'm so glad you've found this info useful :)

@Gary and @Lois, you do need to load the blog page to make a comment (unfortunately). Use the shortcut key "v", and it opens the blog post in a new window so you can comment and close the window without losing your spot in Reader.

@Jordan, great tips, thanks so much. That bit about subscribing to blogs which don't have an RSS subcribe button will be fantastically handy - will Tweet that this morning!

Hugs,

Rach

Christopher said...

I'm so addicted to google reader. It's the best thing ever.

The Golden Eagle said...

I tried Google Reader, but I didn't like it because I can't find away to click on the title/blog name and go straight to the blog itself like you can from the Dashboard--is there a link somewhere that I'm missing so I don't have to type in the URL?

Elizabeth Briggs said...

I wouldn't be able to function without google reader. I don't know how I used the internet before it existed.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I sooo have to check that out! Nice tip!

jbchicoine said...

This is so helpful and couldn't have come at a better time for me...I'm saving this post in a 'special' folder...

Joanna St. James said...

You might have just saved my brain from imploding thanx for the tips

E.C. Smith said...

Amazing! I had no idea I could do this. It's going to make keeping track of everyone so much easier. Thanks, Rach!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Very helpful! Thanks!

Constance said...

yep supper helpful thanks rach. Now just need to find the time to READ them all and we will be set!!

lol

Julie Musil said...

Wow, that's really cool. I had no idea we could organize the blogs this way. Thank you. And thanks for all your hard work on the crusade. It's so much fun! I love the button on the side. Can we use it on our blogs? I'll try to put it on my sidebar with a link the your list. Thanks, Rachael

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome advice! Thanks for sharing. I have yet to use Google Reader but I need to! This is what I needed to get started. I bookmarked it!

Vicki Tremper said...

This is awesome and Rach you continue to amaze me. I went into Google Reader for the first time just now and I can't find a way to connect all the blogs I've followed through Google Friend Connect. Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks!

Rachael Harrie said...

@Vicki, go into Settings, then Reader Settings, then Preferences, then tick "Show followed blogs from Blogger" under Misc - hopefully that should do the trick.

Hugs,

Rach

Liz said...

Wow. I've been using the reader for a while now, but I've never gotten around to exploring and organizing. Will have to. When I have time. Unfortunately, that's not today.

kmullican said...

I will definately have to switch to Google Reader because I can't possibly keep up now! lol

Susan Fields said...

Thanks for the tips - this is some great information!

Su said...

Sigh... I don't even have time to read this, never mind do it. I'll bookmark for later!

Adina West said...

Great post Rach, I've had this on my 'to-do' list for ages and it will be so much easier now with your wonderful how-to guide...

Stephen Tremp said...

Thanks for the tips. I started organizing the blogs before the holidays then got distracted and forgot about it altogether. I need to revisit Google Reader again!

Carol Riggs said...

Hi Rach--a question: is the Crusade badge for a certain challenge prize, or are we supposed to replace the other photo with it? I didn't want to post it if we were supposed to earn it. :D

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Wow, I'm thrilled and impressed, thank you for sharing this with us!!

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

Lisa Nowak said...

I love Google Reader.

Liz Fichera said...

Great tips! I don't use it nearly as effectively as I could be.

Amanda Milner said...

Wow! Thanks Rach! I think I shall call you
'The Blog Whisperer' ☺ heehee!

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

Awesome! I'm all over anything that makes life easier!

Krista said...

I got a gmail account...just so I could do this. Thank you!

Theresa Milstein said...

Good tips! I have not organized my Google Reader. In fact, most of my blogs don't come up on Google Reader. I saved it mostly for blogs that don't have a follower button to press right on their blogs. Now I follow so many blogs, I don't know if I can deal with trying to organize!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Whoa. I use Google reader but I had no idea there was more to it!
Great tip!

Matthew MacNish said...

Excellent breakdown! I still prefer using the Blogger dashboard to get to blogs on multiple tabs in Google Chrome, but I have used reader before and it's pretty nice.

Jane@flightplatformliving said...

thats amazing! i thought i had reached my 300 limit and have beenwondering who to delete in order to follow my crusade group!is there any limit in google reader? fab post x

Jane@flightplatformliving said...

ok another question...i just followed all the people in my memoir group following instructions on this post...but will they know i am following as i am not showing up in their followers...is there another place to check followrs on google reader?x

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Sue Ann Bowling said...

I've been following those blogs in my Campaign group that have email feeds, but I find a lot don't. I don't have Google reader and can't figure out atom feeds, but maybe I ought to get it. Will it follow any blog?

Rachael Harrie said...

Sue, Atom feeds is just another form of feed, and by subscribing to it (clicking the link at the bottom of posts), the blog's feed will also show up in your Google Reader. If you were on Blogger, you would be able to follow blogs on your Dashboard (Wordpress may have a similar tool, I'm not sure), but this is unwieldy as the number of blogs you follow increases. I'd strongly recommend getting Google Reader - it's free and VERY easy, you just need to sign up to Google. Hope that helps,

Hugs,

Rach

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