Google Reader is soon to be no more. Yesterday, the company announced that the service will be shutting down as of July 1, 2013, as part of Google's second "Spring Cleaning."
Predictably, users are freaking out—the process of backing up and exporting all your feeds can take a while, not to mention finding a suitable replacement.
It may take some time due to downloading, but exporting your subscriptions is pretty simple. Go to Google Takeout and select Reader (this link will take you directly there). Log in if you haven't already, and once it gets to 100%, click Create Archive.
Now, you have a copy of your feeds that you can take to your new RSS reader. Just open the archive and find the file called subscriptions.xml, which you will use to import your feeds to your new reader.
If you switch to one that supports Google Reader, you can also import your Starred Stories by going to your Settings -> Folders and Tabs and making Your starred items public.
Now, click View public page site and copy the URL to the page. After com.google, copy and paste starred?n=500, replacing 500 with the number of starred items you have. Import the edited URL into your new RSS reader.
It's still a pain to switch, but at least you won't have to start from scratch. The only question left is...
What do I use instead?
While there are tons of online RSS readers, there aren't many that work well AND are unlimited without having to pay a subscription fee. There are a few free ones that might be worth your time, though.
Feedly can be viewed in your browser and has an extension for Chrome as well as apps for both iOS and Android. It's set up sort of like a newspaper and supports Google Reader, so importing your feeds should be a breeze.
Pulse is another great free cross-platform reader available on the web, iOS, and Android. It's very visual and allows you to customize your feeds based on topics you're interested in, then organizes them into easy-to-read pages.
If you are willing to pay (or don't subscribe to many sites), my personal favorite reader is a Y Combinator startup founded by Samuel Clay called NewsBlur. He describes it as "a personal news reader that brings people together to talk about the world" because it adds a social aspect by allowing users to follow, friend, and share with others. Each user gets a personal "BlurBlog" where they can share their favorite stories with followers.
If you don't have a lot of feeds, you can sign up for a free account, which allows you to subscribe to 64 sites. Premium accounts are unlimited and you can pay $1 to $3 per month depending on how much you think the service is worth. NewsBlur also has free apps for iOS and Android.
NewsBar ($4.99) is a simple Mac app that displays your feeds on your desktop. It looks nice and works with Google Reader, plus it runs alongside whatever else you're doing, so you can keep up with news while you work on other things.
If you don't have a ton of feeds and are looking for a cheaper option, try Headlines ($1.99) or Feedy ($2.99). RSSOwl is a good free option that syncs with Google Reader, and Feed Notifier is a free pop-up display that runs in your notification center.
If you're looking for a desktop client for Windows, there are a few free options. RSSOwl has a Windows client as well, and has a lot of great features like a tabbed interface, several different viewing modes and the ability to save searches.
Feed Notifier is a free app for Windows that runs in the system tray and displays pop-up notifications when you have new stories to read.
iOS & Android
Taptu is considered one of the best mobile RSS readers. It's visual and adds information from your Facebook and Twitter streams so you have all the stuff you're interested in in one place. You can also save articles for later and share to social media right from the app.
Flipboard is another very popular reader that turns all your feeds into your own personal magazine. It lets you connect and share to social networks right from the app.
Weave is a popular free RSS reader for Windows Phone 8. It lets you choose the topics you're interested in and organizes your feeds based off of them. It has lots of customization options and will even read articles to you aloud in several different voices.
Do you have a favorite Google Reader alternative that's not on the list? Let us know in the comments below.