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Google Screwed Up Google Reader Last Week – Here’s How to Fix It

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Reboot your browser so GreaseMonkey can start running. You’ll probably also need to enable GreaseMonkey so it knows to runs the script.
  3. 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:

a {color:#0645AD;}

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.

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Mathieu P. November 7, 2011 um 9:19 am


Thx for the tip! It’s a great script, the new design for Google Reader was so bad, and Gmail changes ain’t…(it doesn’t let me change from 'Compact' to 'Cozy' or 'Confortable' view, so I reverted to the old look for now).

I just see one thing with the script for Google Reader, with the old look (even with the new skin), when I click on a feed I can see the Title of the feed in blue, the source and resume, but with the greasemonkey script, there is only the source and resume, no more Title links. I liked to be able to go directly to the source page of the news with this link. I unchecked the 'Chevron links (»)', so I have a small link to the right of the feed, but it’s not the same.

Well, Thx again for the tip and for the CSS too ^^!

Carl Porter on Facebook November 8, 2011 um 7:13 pm

Looks like they fixed no known problem. I quite liked it like it was – then they messed it up. who wants to go through all that drill to get what we had back again?

Nate Hoffelder November 9, 2011 um 12:23 am

i think the old design could have used a few tweaks. I think it needed to be spread out a bit more becuase there were times that I clicked the wrong item or scanned a list of pasts and missed one that I wanted to read.

But this new interface wasn’t the solution.

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