Friday, September 10, 2010

Bloglines Shutting Down Soon

KK, via email, points to an announcement on the blog that says "we will shut down Bloglines on October 1." It's mostly suit-speak; the gist is, wasn't making enough money off of Bloglines to want to keep running the service.

That post, and others, tell us that the cool kids have proclaimed the death of feed readers, due to the Twitter and other services. I can accept that there are other options -- I track some bloggers via their Twitter feeds myself -- but I think it's a little early to start shoveling dirt into the hole. Not everyone I want to follow pipes announcements of his or her new articles and blog posts onto Twitter, for one thing, and for another, it's nice to be able to browse a bunch of posts in one place, without having to click a clicky to read each one.

So, what to do? There are still a number of other feed readers out there. The only one I have any real experience with, besides Bloglines, is Google Reader, and I like that well enough. (Truth is, even though Bloglines has long been decaying, I have resisted moving to Google Reader just because I sometimes get nervous that the Google handles too many of my web services for me already.)

Anyway, preliminaries aside, it is easy to move from Bloglines to Google Reader and bring your feeds with you. Here are the steps:

  1. Visit your Bloglines page, go to the Additional Features section at the bottom of the left-hand column, and click Export Subscriptions. This causes a file named export.opml to be saved to your local machine. (Note that this does not delete your feeds from Bloglines or close your Bloglines account or anything like that.)

  2. Visit and create a Google Reader account.

  3. In Google Reader, click Manage Subscriptions (lower left corner of the page), click Import/Export, and upload the export.opml file.

It really is that easy. However, if you want them, there are more details, plus some screen shots of the steps of the process, below.


In what follows, click any screen shot to enlarge it.

Step One: Export your list of feeds from Bloglines. Visit your Bloglines page. Look in the left-hand column, under your list of feeds, for the Additional Features section. Near the bottom, you'll see Export Subscriptions.

Click that. You should get some sort of pop-up window asking you want you want to do. On Firefox, it looks like this:

Tick the Save File choice and click OK. A file named export.opml will be saved to your Desktop (or whatever your default download folder is).

Step Two: Create a Google Reader account. Visit If you already have a Gmail account, or something else that counts as a Google account (a Blogger blog, for example), you can sign in using that identity. If you've been using Gmail or some other service recently, you may even get automatically signed in.

Aside: If you don't have any sort of Google account, I expect you'll have to go through some sort of sign-up procedure, about which I can't tell you, but I'm sure it'll be self-explanatory and will involve nothing more than picking a username and password and possibly giving an alternate email address. If you do have some sort of Google account, visiting (and perhaps signing in) is all you need to do to create your Google Reader account.

Once you have created/established your Google Reader account, you might want to look at the introductory material that will be displayed on your Reader home page.

Step Three: Import your list of feeds into Google Reader. Look at the lower left corner, where it says Manage Subscriptions

Click that.

On the next page, headed Settings, click Import/Export.

On the next page, click the Browse… button, and in the pop-up window, find that export.opml file you just downloaded, single-click it, and click the Open button.

When the pop-up window closes, you'll be back at the main browswer window. Click the Upload button.

The importing process will take a few seconds, depending on how many feeds you have. (Took about fifteen seconds to import my 300 or so feeds.) Eventually, the page will refresh, and look something like this …

… although not with those exact feeds, obviously. You can mess around on this page, or just click Back to Google Reader and see how it looks. It may take a few seconds for the new page to refresh, to show you your list of feeds, if you've imported a lot of feeds. Just be patient.

From there on in, the process should feel intuitive and/or any further description would be tediously long-winded. Also, since I've spent less time with Google Reader than with Bloglines up till now, I'm not yet a wizard on all the ins and outs. I will, however, note a few differences between Bloglines and Google Reader that momentarily threw me when I first started using Google Reader.

First, the default setting in Google Reader is to mark posts as read once you scroll past them. You can change this behavior: click the Manage Subscriptions link in the lower left corner, on the new page, click the Preferences link, and on that next page, untick the box labeled In expanded view, mark items as read when you scroll past them. There's no Save Preferences button to click; your changes are automatically saved as you make them. You'll notice an informational message across the top of the screen to this effect.

You can play around with other aspects of your Settings, or click the Back to Google Reader link to see what's new to read in your feeds.

Second, you'll note that all new posts from all of your feeds are listed on your Google Reader home page. This will be true when you first import your feeds, as you have just finished doing, and every time you visit in the future. (Bloglines, you'll recall, displays a splash page of sorts when you first get there.) Just click an individual feed over in the left column to concentrate on one blog at a time. If you want to change this behavior, again, see Manage Subscriptions → Preferences and look at the dropdown box labeled Start Page.

Third, when you first start using Google Reader, it may occasionally seem like "it's not doing anything" after you click something. I don't think it's any more sluggish than Bloglines, but the visual cues while it's processing aren't as apparent, or at least they weren't to me. If you're familiar with Gmail, however, you'll notice that Reader behaves similarly; e.g., you'll see small messages, like "Loading," at the top of the screen when it's in the middle of doing something.


  • Probably you'll want to create a bookmark to Or, just Google google reader from now on.

  • If you want to fiddle with your settings, a more efficient option to clicking the Manage Subscriptions link is to click Settings at the top of the page and then choose Reader settings from the dropdown menu.

  • Once you are happy with Google Reader, you can delete that export.opml file if you like. Or, if you're a packrat like me, you might want to save it, just in case. I'd suggest renaming it to something like my-bloglines-feeds-sept-2010.opml or something before you move the file off your Desktop and into the folder where you keep your other notes and backups. Of course, you can also export your list of feeds from Google Reader at any time -- back on that Import/Export page -- so not to worry if you feel like deleting the file.

  • Let me know if you have any questions about any of this, in the Comments or by email. Thanks.


Substance McGravitas said...

I use an old version of NetNewsWire (Mac only) which works fine. I don't much like Google Reader because it seems to be a little late on things: things that show up in other readers seem to take a while to get to it.

Brendan said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I've heard good things about NNW, but it being Mac-only, I haven't yet tried it. (Not a Mac-hater, just haven't had one for a couple of years.)

Thanks also for the observation about Google Reader. I have to say that for me, though, the possible slow updating is very far from a deal-breaker: I am perpetually behind on my reading, and for the few sources I really want to stay on top of, I find a combination of following them on Twitter or (*gasp*) just visiting their sites directly does the job.

traci said...

thanks for this. is there anything that can be done about all of the posts that have been clipped/pinned/saved from blogines?

Brendan said...


I sent Bloglines an email asking that exact question, matter of fact. Here was their response:

Thanks so much for your Bloglines question. We promise we’re not ignoring you!

Rest assured wants to make this transition as easy as possible for our loyal users and will address all Bloglines questions over the next few business days – either via email or on

Thanks again for your patience and support – and please stay tuned!


The / Bloglines Team

That was three days ago, so I'm not holding out much hope. Perhaps if you also send them an email -- -- asking the same question, it might help. You never know!

Short of that, I don't see anything else we can do other than to visit the saved posts in turn and bookmark them. (You can use right-click → Bookmark This Link if you have a lot of saved posts in the same feed -- this may speed things up a little.)

If you hear of anything else, please let me know.

traci said...

brendan - thanks so much. good thoughts...

Brendan said...

You're welcome.

And just to let you know: I sent another email to Bloglines today. Got the same form letter/auto-response back. Also, I did not see anything new on their home page or in their help pages. So, I guess there's not really anything to do except to start saving clips and saved posts by hand.

Gonna be tedious, I know.