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Learning to Love NetNewsWire

When I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” a few weeks ago, I gave up my existing RSS reader (PulpFiction) in search of a new application (this was at the same time I had to rebuild my list of RSS subscriptions). Having finally settled on NetNewsWire, I’m now learning to love the application that at first irritated me.

When I first tried NetNewsWire shortly after switching to the Mac, I just didn’t like it. At the time, the thing that irritated me most was the fact that headlines disappeared after a while. (I now know that’s “normal.”) When I discovered PulpFiction and its persistence model, it seemed like a perfect fit. The built-in Growl integration, support for AppleScript, and filtering functionality were natural extensions. After a while, though, I found myself dreading to check headlines, and struggling to maintain what I thought were “reasonable” lists of headlines to be retained for future reference. Having to process every single headline—delete it, file it, e-mail it, write about it, etc.—was just too time-consuming. Heck, I couldn’t even keep up with my e-mail inbox, much less my RSS inbox.

When I decided to switch RSS aggregators during the Tiger upgrade, the idea of persistence was no longer a plus for me. NetNewsWire’s model (and the model shared by many other RSS aggregators) was now appealing to me, instead of irritating. Even so, it wasn’t love at first use; I was initially bothered by the lack of filters and built-in Growl integration.

As I soon discovered, though, the Growl integration was easily solved using NewsGrowl, and that in itself underscored a feature of NetNewsWire that I have yet to fully explore—script subscriptions. And filters were proven to be unnecessary due to the lack of persistence in the headlines. While I didn’t get Spotlight support (i.e., the ability to search headlines using Spotlight), I did get AppleScript support and Automator support.

In addition, it’s the little features that have really started to grow on me (note that some of these features are only in the latest beta version). Notably:

  • The right-click menu includes commands not only to copy the URL, but to also copy the headline itself—very handy for my typical workflow.

  • NetNewsWire has a “Post to” command that works with Cocoalicious, instead of forcing me to post via a browser. (Of course, it also integrates with ecto, my blogging client, for posting to this weblog.)

  • Selective persistence, via flagging articles, allows me to choose which headlines (if any), I’d like to hang onto for a bit longer.

I’m confident that as I continue to use NetNewsWire, I’ll find more “nuggets of usefulness” built into the application. If you’re looking for a good Mac OS X RSS aggregator, you would be well-served to give NetNewsWire a serious look.

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