Mac Usenet Applications

I’m a multi-protocol kind of guy.  What does that mean?  Basically, it means that I use more than just a web browser.  Typically, I have multiple Internet clients running at any given time—a browser (typically Camino, but sometimes Safari), an RSS reader (NetNewsWire), an IM client (Adium), Cocoalicious (for managing bookmarks), an IRC client (Colloquy), and an e-mail client.  In each of these areas, there are high-quality applications available to choose from.  For example, if I didn’t like Camino or Safari, I could always switch to Opera or Firefox; if I didn’t like NetNewsWire, I could switch to NewsFire, Shrook, or Vienna.  I have options.

I also like to try to follow a small number of Usenet newsgroups.  Unfortunately, this is one area where Mac OS X doesn’t have a good set of high-quality applications.  And that really stinks.

There’s only one commercial Usenet client of which I am aware, and that’s Unison by Panic.  It’s a decent application, but lacks offline support and the ability to connect to multiple servers simultaneously.  In addition, the UI is a bit awkward to me, and I could really use some better searching functionality.  I’ve been using Unison for a while and I’d love to see a major upgrade to the application…so Panic guys, what do you say?

I thought that Nemo was going to be a real contender, but it crashes on a regular basis, and has a number of bugs that make it pretty much unusable.  It’s a tremendous start, though, and I hope that the developer continues to refine the application.  Once some of these bugs have been squashed, I will definitely consider purchasing the application, but as it is I’m not going to pay for beta software that is truly beta quality.  There are a few unfinished open source efforts, like Xnntp, but those also are incomplete beta-quality products.

So are there any other good, high-quality NNTP/Usenet clients out there that I’m just missing?  Or is this all there is?

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  1. Nicholas Riley’s avatar

    I like the MacSOUP offline reader which I’ve been using for ages. Long ago it took a bit of getting used to, mainly the way you read – you go through and mark (with the return key) the articles you’re interested in, then hit the space bar to go through them – but over time it’s become second nature. MacSOUP has a great graphical thread map too, and good support for archiving articles. It doesn’t support binaries though – I don’t care, maybe you will. To connect to multiple servers you’ll need to use multiple MacSOUP “documents”.

    Also worth checking out: Hogwasher which has multiple server and binary support; MT-NewsWatcher which is free and has multiple server/binary support too, but is online only.

  2. Mark Mayo’s avatar

    I’ve looked as well and concluded that Unison is by far the best NNTP reader on the Mac. I don’t mind the interface (in fact, I mostly like it) and don’t care about offline archiving of groups. I do wish I could open groups from multiple servers simultaneously, though.

    Let me know if you find an alternative. :)

  3. slowe’s avatar


    Thanks for the suggestions–I’ll take a look at those.


    I’ll definitely let you know what I find!

  4. Makea’s avatar

    I was really excited when unison first came out a few years back. But, I was disappointed by the performance of the app compared to mt-newswatcher.

    Since then I’ve been using pan exclusively for newsgroup reading. It’s awesome: flexible layout views, fast (not hindered by quartz), available for all *nix, and it’s free.

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