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The 3 best RSS readers for Mac in 2021

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The 3 best RSS readers for Mac in 2021

By Justin Pot · September 2, 2021
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RSS feeds are the ultimate power user tool for keeping up with the news. And if there's one thing a power user can't stand, it's clumsy software. 

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For Mac users, that means the best choice is a native app. Sure, you could use a web-based RSS app to keep up with your feeds, but they're going to be slow and clunky compared to an actual Mac app—which is probably why there are so many Mac RSS apps on the market. 

I tested every macOS RSS app I could get my hands on, and most of them were...not great. A few stood out, though, so here are the three best RSS readers for Mac.

RSS feed hard to locate? See our tips for how to find the RSS feed for almost any site.

The best RSS readers for Mac

  • Reeder for the best design

  • ReadKit for a combo RSS reader and read it later app

  • NetNewsWire for a free RSS reader

What makes a great RSS feed reader for Mac? 

For this review, I only considered traditional RSS readers—that is, apps that allow you to add any RSS feed you want. News apps that don't allow this, like Apple News, weren't considered. Neither were apps that don't offer a full reading experience, such as browser extensions or menu bar widgets.

With that in mind, the best Mac RSS readers: 

  • Offer offline reading. An RSS reader runs faster if articles are downloaded before you start reading, and it's also nice to be able to read without an internet connection. 

  • Can pull in the full text of an article. Many feeds don't offer up the entire article. The best RSS apps can pull in the text using a parsing tool like Mercury Reader. 

  • Offer custom keyboard shortcuts. The whole point of RSS readers is speed, and nothing slows you down more than having to use your mouse. You should be able to jump between articles, copy a link, and do most anything else using just the keyboard—and you should be able to set things up just the way you like. 

  • Offer syncing. That way, you can catch up with your feeds on another device. Syncing with a third-party service like Feedly is a plus for cross-platform users, but native syncing using iCloud also works. 

  • Offer a native macOS interface. A web app isn't good enough, and neither is a ported iPad app. I only considered native apps for this list. 

I considered over a dozen apps for this article, and the three below are the ones I'd recommend.

The best designed RSS reader for Mac

Reeder (macOS, iOS)

Reeder screenshot

Reeder is beautiful. That's self-evident in the screenshot above: the typography, the semi-transparent left panel, and the layout all draw the eye quickly. What I love, though, are the small touches that aren't obvious in a single screenshot. 

The app has three panels, like most RSS apps: feeds in the left, a list of articles in the middle, and the current article on the right. But unlike any other app I tested, Reeder will hide panels depending on how big the current window is. This means you can shrink the window to the side of your screen to only see the current article, which is ideal if you're taking notes in another window. It's a small thing, sure, and one that some users will never notice. There are so many little touches like this, which is what makes Reeder great. 

None of this would matter, of course, if the reading experience wasn't also great. It is. Articles are downloaded for offline reading, and you can even opt to keep weeks or months of read articles on your machine for future reference. There's support for pulling in the full text for any article using a keyboard shortcut or button. You can even configure Reeder to grab the full text of any feed by default—no other RSS reader I tested offers this feature. 

And there are more customization options. Every single keyboard shortcut can change, for example, and you can also set keys to quickly share articles on apps like Twitter or Pocket. You can also set up touchpad gestures. 

Syncing is well-supported. There's a native iCloud syncing feature, which you can use to sync directly to Reeder on other Macs or any iOS device. Or, if you prefer, you can sync to every RSS service you've heard of and a few that you haven't: Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, FeedHQ, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, Inoreader, BazQux Reader, FreshRSS, and Reader. 

I could go on much, much longer than this, but I'll leave it at this: Reeder is, far and away, the best RSS app I found for Mac. 

Reeder price: $9.99 on the Mac App Store

The best combination RSS and read it later app for Mac

ReadKit (macOS, iOS) 

Readkit screenshot

ReadKit is a great RSS app—one that fits right in on the Mac. It's not as polished as Reeder, sure, but it measures up very nicely in terms of features. There are customizable keyboard shortcuts, offline reading, and support for pulling in the full text of any article. There's also a smart folder feature, which allows you to do things like only see articles that mention specific words or are written by a specific author. None of the other Mac apps I tested offer this feature, which might be reason enough for some people to use ReadKit.

ReadKit can sync with Feedly, NewsBlur, Fever, Feed Wrangler, and Feedbin. There's no built-in syncing, but this isn't much of an issue considering there are more than a few free options there. 

And there's one feature that no other app on the market offers. ReadKit syncs with two of the best read it later apps: Pocket and Instapaper. It also syncs with Pinboard, a bookmarking service. This means you can collect links using those services, then read and manage them in ReadKit alongside your RSS feeds, doing all of your reading in one place. 

ReadKit price: $13.99 on the Mac App Store 

The best free RSS reader for Mac

NetNewsWire (macOS, iOS)

NetNewsWire screenshot

I don't think NetNewsWire measures up to Reeder or ReadKit, but that doesn't mean it's not great. It's a no-nonsense RSS reader with almost every feature most users need, and it's completely free. It's hard to complain about that. 

You might have the impression that NetNewsWire stopped existing sometime in the early 2010s, and to be fair, it wasn't actively maintained for a few years. In the past couple years, though, the app has been totally overhauled. 

It fits right in on the modern macOS desktop. The user interface is modern, there's support for offline reading, and you can pull in the full-text version of any article. And there are a few features not available in other apps: you can subscribe to Reddit and Twitter feeds in addition to RSS, for example. You can sync to Macs and iOS devices running NetNewsWire via iCloud, and there's also support for syncing to third-party services like BazQux, Feedbin, Feedly, Inoreader, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, and FreshRSS. 

If you're not sure which app to use, start with NetNewsWire. There's a good chance you won't find any reason to switch. 

NetNewsWire price: Free 

A few other options

The above three apps cover just about every type of user, but here are a few more things to try if none of them are quite what you want. 

  • This list only included native macOS apps, but you could use a web service in your browser. Check out our list of the best free web-based RSS readers to learn more. 

  • RSS Bot is a free menu bar app for quickly keeping up with headlines. It's light on features, sure, but great if you just want to see headlines and click on a couple occasionally. 

  • Vienna is another free and open-source option that doesn't offer syncing and looks like something from 2009. Try it if NetNewsWire isn't quite what you're looking for. 

Want to get more out of your RSS feeds? Here's how to make your own RSS superfeed and how to automate your RSS feeds

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Justin Pot

Justin Pot is a staff writer at Zapier based in Hillsboro, Oregon. He loves technology, people, and nature, not necessarily in that order. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @jhpot. You don't have to. But you can.

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