Google Reader’s retirement will not just impact those who used its web interface, but also the scores of apps that synced feeds using Google’s API, and everyone who used such an app. While the hunt for the best web alternative for Google Reader is still in progress, many users are also considering switching to a desktop alternative. Mac users can get RSS Master for free for a limited time in the Mac App Store. It syncs with Google Reader, but can also work independently of it. You can add feeds from a local file, Blogger, LiveJournal, Xanga, MSN Spaces, or a URL. You can import feeds from an XML file as well. RSS Master had its own built-in browser that allows you to open articles in different tabs. The app lets you share articles on Twitter, Buffer, Evernote, Instapaper, Facebook, Pocket and Delicious, and add them to Safari’s reading list. You can set RSS Master to open articles in your default browser instead of its own, customize the font, and choose how often the app will check for new items in your feeds. Feeds can be organized into folders and refreshed manually all at once.
RSS Master comes with a few feeds already added, but you can remove them if you like. To import feeds from an XML file, go to the app’s File menu and select ‘Import Subscriptions…’. Select the XML file and RSS Master will load all your subscriptions. News items themselves will not be loaded until the next time RSS Master checks for them, but you can force the app to check and load new stories by clicking the refresh button on the toolbar.
The feeds all appear in the column on the left in their respective folder and the ‘Articles’ tab lists all news items for the selected feed. Filters allow you to sort the items in a feed by time, unread items, or flagged items. Upon clicking, a news item is loaded below the list of articles in the feed, while double-clicking it will open it a new tab. When opened in a new tab, the article loads in the app’s built-in browser.
RSS Master has quite a few sharing options but strangely, email isn’t one of them. To share an article on one of the supported social networks, you will have to sign in to that network in the app’s own browser, and that is hardly convenient. To add a single subscription, click the plus sign in the toolbar, select the type of the source that you want to add the feed from, enter its details and click ‘Subscribe’.
You can have RSS Master open links in your default browser instead of its own by going to the app’s preferences and selecting ‘Open links in external browser’. The ‘Check for new articles’ drop-down allows you to select how often the app checks for new articles but regardless of this setting, you can always manually check for them.
The ‘Appearance’ tab allows you to customize the font used to display the articles’ text, while the ‘Sync’ option lets you connect your Google Reader account with the app. The app will soon cost $9.99, so you might want to download it while it’s still free and take it for a test drive.