Tutorial by: Adam Pash at http://lifehacker.com/
Google Reader is one helluva feed reader, but unless you’ve spent a little time digging into the documentation, you probably aren’t taking full advantage of what it has to offer.
Today, I’m going to show you the ins and outs of Google’s powerful newsreader, with an emphasis on Reader’s powerful and time-saving keyboard shortcuts. To round things off, I’ll finish up with some of my favorite Google Reader-related tweaks and downloads to get you up to speed with the best newsreader on the planet.
Google Reader and its wonderful keyboard shortcuts
First off, since I’m such a big fan of keyboard shortcuts, I want to start off highlighting the incredible shortcuts baked into Google Reader
Google Reader’s Quicksilver-like keyboard shortcut interface may look familiar to anyone who’s used the Gmail Macros Greasemonkey script I described in my Gmail Master post. It should, since the Gmail Macros script was written by Google Reader frontend tech lead Mihai Parparita.
To get started, let’s suss out some of the shortcuts I used in the video above:
Baked-in shortcuts: Google Reader integrates shortcuts to the hard-coded locations (like Home, All Items, and Starred Items) to simple, hard-coded shortcuts. So you can hit g + a (Go + All Items) to jump to all of your items. Likewise, g + h goes Home and g + s goes to your Starred Items.
Navigating subscriptions: That’s all well and good, but where Google Reader’s keyboard shortcuts for navigation really shine is in regards to the customizations you make to your feeds. For example, you can navigate to any feed by title by typing g + u + Feed Title (Go to Subscription). For example, g + u + Lifehacker will take you to your Lifehacker feed (assuming you’ve subscribed to it).
When you hit g + u, you’ll see a pop-up that shows you a list of all of your current subscriptions. As you begin typing, the list will begin filtering out matches and the top match will be selected by default. You can navigate matches with the arrow keys, or continue typing until only one match remains.
Navigating Labels/Tags: If you organize your feeds by labels and tags (Google Reader isn’t sure what it wants to call them – sometimes it’s label, sometimes it’s tag), Google Reader’s got you covered there, too. To navigate by label/tag, you can either type g + t + tag-name (Go to the tag called tag-name), or g + l + label-name (Go to the label called label-name). I don’t want to confuse anyone – labels and tags are the same thing in Google Reader, so either method will work. From here on out, I’m going to refer to them as labels, since that’s what I’ve gotten used to with Gmail.
Labeling feeds and posts: Whenever you subscribe to a new feed, you have the option to file it into a ‘folder’. Basically, adding a feed to a folder is no different than if you were to set up a filter that labels every post from a feed with the same label. Since Google Reader does not have filtering, it works with folders. So if you were to set up a label/folder called productivity, then add Lifehacker to the productivity folder, every post from Lifehacker would automatically be labeled ‘productivity’.
However, you can also label feed items individually. When you’re reading an item that you want to tag individually, just hit l + label or t + tag (whichever you prefer). You can add more than one label by separating each label with a comma, and you can create new labels on-the-fly or use one of your pre-existing labels, which will show up in an auto-suggest drop-down.
Navigating feed items: Google Reader lets you navigate from item to item in a number of ways. If you use the keyboard shortcuts available in Gmail, a lot of these shortcuts will be very familiar to you. You can:
* Move from item to item with j (down) and k (up).
* Move from item to item (without opening) with n (next) and p (previous). If you’re viewing your feeds in Expanded view, j/k and n/p both do the same thing.
* If you’re navigating List view with n and p, pressing Enter or o will Open/close the currently selected item. (Incidentally, you can move between Expanded and List view with 1 or 2, respectively.)
* Star the current item (or remove an already starred item) by pressing s.
* View the current item at its originating web site in a new tab/window with v.
* Mark an item as read with m.
* Go fullscreen by pressing u. This toggles the sidebar, maximizing your reading space.
A few more choice shortcuts: The navigation shortcuts above are sort of the cream of the crop – however, Google Reader comes with several more built-in shortcuts that you might want to familiarize yourself with.
The other great part about Google Reader, aside from its inherent good looks and charm, is that its popularity means that there are a handful of really great Google Reader add-ons, both Google- and user-created. My favorites are:
# The Google Reader Notifiers: Google has yet to release an official notifier for Reader, but luckily Reader lovers have rolled their own versions. You can get Google Reader Notifier for Windows, Mac , and Firefox.
# Using Google Co-op and this Greasemonkey script, you can create a custom search of your Google Reader feeds.
# Speaking of Greasemonkey, the Smart Google Reader subscribe button (also by Mihai Parparita) gives you a simple way to subscribe to a site’s newsfeed while also letting you know if you’ve already subscribed to that site. If you subscribe to a lot of feeds (like we do at Lifehacker), this kind of thing can come in very handy.
# Integrate Google Reader with Gmail – again with a Greasemonkey script (once again, by Mihai Parparita).
Let’s hear your favorite Google Reader features and tweaks in the comments.
Note: Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who appreciates applications that pay special attention to the keyboard. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker
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