I spend well over an hour a day going through my 250 feed subscriptions in Google Reader. I always work in List View so I can skim through the post titles as quickly as possible. If the title of the post doesn’t look interesting to me, I move right along. Anything that would speed up working through the feeds would improve my productivity. What I really needed was a way to filter out stuff so that I didn’t have to read uninteresting posts and at the same time that highlighted stuff of real interest.
Coincidentally, I found the answer I needed when browsing through though the posts in Google Reader, and it’s a real gem. Thanks to Arpit Kumar at Techie Buzz for blogging this great tip about filtering within Google Reader. Don’t worry, it’s real easy to install and set up so please try it out.
Google Reader Filter
Installation in Firefox is a two-stage process. First you have to install Greasemonkey then the feed filter. But first what’s Greasemonkey? Well it’s just a Firefox extension that allows you to customize the way webpages look and function. So first download and install the Greasemonkey Firefox extension from the Greasespot homepage. It will install just like any other Firefox addon, and you’ll probably have to restart your browser. Once it’s back open, you should see a Greasemonkey icon in the lower right corner of the browser window. Now you can add Greasemonkey scripts. Hundreds have been written and are available here but today we’re going to install the Google Reader Filter script available here. Just click install on that page and then reload Google Reader.
You’ll see a new blue button called Filter settings at the top right of the Google Reader window as shown above. If you click on that you can add filter words to exclude or highlight posts in your list.
As you can see, if the post title has excluded words, the title will show as greyed out and if highlighted words are present, the title will be highlighted in green as shown above. If you check the box Hide excludes, you can drop the post completely if you like. Checking the box Prefer Highlights over excludes will highlight the post if it contains both highlighted and excluded words. Checking Hide duplicates does just what it says and any duplicate post titles in the list are excluded. The words in your filter list don’t appear to be case-sensitive. I did notice that if the word in the title is followed by a full point it won’t be excluded unless you add the word followed by a full point to the excluded list. If there’s a colon, dash or exclamation mark directly after the word in the title, it will be excluded or highlighted.
So now, in my case, I can filter out any feeds with the words iPad, Norton, etc., because I’m just not interested in these topics and my time can be more productively used reading other posts. At the same time, any topic I’m particularly interested in like Windows 7 will be highlighted and I can prioritise reading these posts if I want. Now, as I read post titles, when I spot further words I can add them to the filter.
I’ve set up the filter in Firefox on my Windows and Linux machines and they both work great. And yes I know, it’s yet another Firefox extension which is probably going to slow your browser even further. But if reading feeds in Google Reader is important for you then this is a must-have extension. And of course you can use Greasemonkey to run other scripts too. At the moment unfortunately, this filter doesn’t work in the Google Chrome browser.
All in all, a really simple way to filter your feeds within Google Reader and improve your productivity. I recommend you try it out and see what you think.