Last week Google pushed out a long promised update to Google Reader. Along with some much appreciated sharing features (via gPlus), Google Reader also got a complete user interface redesign.
I don’t know about you, but I hate the UI. There’s far too much whitespace, the only accent color is gray, and there’s no clear separation between the various panels. Lots of people hate the new Google Reader, but luckily there’s a solution. A friend tipped me to a script that fixes most of the problems with the new layout. Installing it takes a little bit of work, but it’s worth it.
Check out the before and after photos:
I learned how to do this with Firefox, but it looks like that with a little extra work you should be able to also install the script under Opera, Safari, and the lesser web browsers. Chrome looks to use the exact same install process as Firefox, so just follow the instructions.
The script is called Google Reader Absolutely Customizable, and it offers an amazing number of options. (You can find the options menu by right clicking on Subscriptions and selecting customize.) You can remove just about everything from Google Reader, including Google’s navbar that you see at the top of the screen, the search bar below it, and just about everything else.
- The first thing you’ll need to do is install GreaseMonkey. This is an addon for Firefox and Chrome that lets you run your own little bits of code. You can find it with the other addons for your browser.
- Reboot your browser so GreaseMonkey can start running. You’ll probably also need to enable GreaseMonkey so it knows to runs the script.
- Click here, and download the script. You should also read all that it can do (here).
Once you have GreaseMonkey and the script both running in your browser, refresh Google Reader. You will be amazed at the difference.
It’s set by default to reduce all that wasted whitespace to a minimum and shrink the images so they’re only as wide as the available width. You also have the option of entering your own CSS, and I added this little bit of code to turn the links blue again:
I’m using Google Reader on a 12″ laptop, so getting rid of the navbar and the whitespace saved me a significant amount of screen real estate without making Google Reader harder to use. And now the links are the color they should be, and that pleases me to no end.
There are so many things wrong with what Google did here, and the link color symbolizes all the poorly conceived thinking. Why would anyone change links from the web standard blue? Seriously, Google Reader made links black, and about the only reason i can think of is that some random programmer decided to do it. There’s no design rule to justify the change.
But it’s fixed now, so that’s not important anymore.
P.S. If you want to do this with a browser besides Chrome or Firefox, try Googling your browser’s name and GreaseMonkey. That should lead you to instructions on how to install this script.