NetNewsWire is what's good.

First released in 2002 (you read that right), NetNewsWire is a classic Mac app built and maintained by Brent Simmons.

NetNewsWire has a long history, but the app itself couldn't be more simple.

This is the app that lets me drink straight from the Internet firehose, and I couldn’t live without it.

Cory Doctorow

NetNewsWire does one thing incredibly reliably: it shows me articles from the sources I actually want to read.

Simply, reading

Plain and simple, NetNewsWire is nice to use.

On the left are a bunch of sources: websites that post articles you want to keep up with. NetNewsWire collects all of those sources into one app into an aggregated feed — a big mashup of all those different sources, with the most recent post on the top.

The app's design hasn't fundamentally changed since version 1. NetNewsWire feels familiar and, over time, has evolved its own distinct sense of style.

From Shawn Blanc's review of NetNewsWire 3.1, back in 2007:

At its initial launch, NNW was already in a class of its own. Brent patterned the traditional 3 panel layout after common email layouts, like Mailsmith, Outlook and Apple Mail. The general look and feel of NetNewsWire has been consistent ever since version 1, but it has certainly received a good spit and polish over the years.

Certainly has. Version 6.0 of NetNewsWire was released in March of 2021. In theory, this is a big update with a bunch of new features, including native support for Apple silicon and built-in iCloud sync across all your devices. In practice, version 6.0 looks and functions exactly the same as version 5.0.

The iOS app is just as simple. There's an outline of sources, then you click in to see each article, and then pick what to read. That's it.

What it's like to use NetNewsWire

There are some helpful "Smart Filters" at the top (Today, Unread, Starred), and you can make folders to group the different sources, aka feeds, that you follow. But that's really it: you pick the sources and NetNewsWire rolls your newsfeed in reverse-chronological order.

Upon opening the app on iPhone, Mac, or iPad for the first time, you're presented with this list of websites:

Question: What is this stuff? Who are these people? Where did this come from?

Answer: NetNewsWire automatically includes these sources so you can get right to reading. A lot of these publications are great sources if you're into tech, —specifically the Apple, Mac, and iPhone communities.  

If you're already using Feedbin to roll your own custom newsfeed, you can pop right into NetNewsWire's preferences and deactivate the "On my iPhone" (or Mac, etc) account, click Add an Account, and login with your Feedbin credentials. Your feeds will automatically roll in.

Of course, you can also start from scratch and hand-curate your own newsfeed. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

Download NetNewsWire for iPhone, iPad, and Mac (direct download)

Like the idea of a custom RSS newsfeed, but aren't sure where to get started?

Check out the Private Library

Members in the Private Library get access to a file they can import into NetNewsWire (or any other RSS reading app) so you can get all the benefits of a hand-curated newsfeed, without any of the work. Read more about benefits of membership in the Private Library.  

The final product is similar to the reading list that NNW provides when you first open the app, except with two major differences:

  1. I'll explain why each of those sources are on the Reading Roster, and
  2. I'll send out regular updates to the Reading Roster — at least once a month — with fresh sources of information

Click here to see more screenshots of the Private Library in action, or join for free by entering your email below.


Further reading about NetNewsWire and RSS

NetNewsWire: NetNewsWire History
Timeline about the long history of NetNewsWire, starting in 2002.
NetNewsWire 5.0
Link to: https://inessential.com/2019/08/26/netnewswire_5_0_now_available
NetNewsWire 5.0 Relaunches as an Open-Source RSS Reader for the Mac – The Sweet Setup
NetNewsWire 5 debuts as one of the simplest and speediest RSS readers available for the Mac and has a classic, recognizably-Mac design that fits right at home in all versions of macOS.
NetNewsWire: Just What You Wanted
NetNewsWire is arguably the most popular desktop feed reader on the planet. That does not, however, mean that NetNewsWire is the most popular RSS reader, period. Far from it, actually. Web-based fe…
My Sweet Setup: NetNewsWire and Feedbin
When you look at NetNewsWire you can just tell it’s a Mac app through and through. At first it might feel a little spartan, but it is nonetheless quite full-featured as a reader. But once you…
The all natural newsfeed
RSS is the original newsfeed. There are no algorithms, no trending sections, no pop-up ads: just pure, organic information. What’s old is what’s next.
Roll your own custom newsfeed with Feedbin
Email newsletters are experiencing a renaissance in 2021, but there’s one problem: I don’t like email! So I use Feedbin, which lets me read email newsletters in RSS reading apps.
Some other good RSS reading apps