Google Reader Offline: Smart Yet Dumb

Yes, it’s great to be able to download my feed items and read it on the plane without Internet connection (since I am not flying Virgin). I even “starred” some entries I want to respond to.But why can’t I mark items “read”? It’s an “online only” action – that does not make sense. When I go back online, Google Reader will perform synchronization anyway; why could it not remember “read” status and sync it?

The above rant is half a year old. I typed it up and decided not to post it. Now I am finding myself offline for a few days again, and can’t believe Google still hasn’t fixed this shortcoming.

Why is it a big deal? If you have hundreds of items in your Reader, I seriously doubt you will use Expanded View and scroll through everything. I found the only way to stay productive with Reader is to use List View, scan titles (OK, a combination of titles and author), and when all done, click “Mark all as read”. I don’t want to reprocess the same items again and again.

The error message says I can do this once I am connected again. But it’s too late, by then my Reader list will be a mix of already seen and new items. In other words, I am scr***d.

What really baffles me though is that I haven’t found any references to this problem online. Am I the only one finding this a major productivity killer? smile_sad

Update (3/14): Now that ReadBurner, a cool tool to determine the most shared items in Google Reader became the news du jur, let me just point out that you can’t mark an item ‘shared’ while offline, either. Not as frustrating as losing “read”status, just an annoyance. Google, please fix Reader!

Related posts: Unofficial ReadBurner,, Adam Ostrow, CenterNetworks and SheGeeks

Update (12/21/08)Google Reader Seems Buggy as Heck


  1. You are not the only one that finds this frustrating. I’m in your camp.

    Particularly irritating given that it seems to be a relatively easy thing to do (once you’ve already got offline access enabled).

  2. Too right, this is by far GReader’s biggest flaw.

    In fact, the reason I only just saw this post is because I’ve been catching up after a trip and the consequent large swathes of time when I simply can’t use GReader. I use List View exactly the way you describe, and this functionality gap is a huge frustration.

    What would be ideal would be the ability to toggle individual posts between read/unread status. ‘Cos the other problem is that once you’ve amassed 100 or more posts, you then have to schedule a single sitting to go through them all and then ‘mark all as read’.

  3. Exactly, Phil. Or perhaps mark a selection (manual, or up the point where I am from top) as read.

    Another problem I noticed with reading in a single sitting is that while I am scanning the long list and get into the detail of some, Reader updates itself, gets new items ABOVE where I am in the list, and there’s no way to tell where the new ones are. Either I lose my ‘work’ of picking from the list, or lose the new entry:-(

  4. I always go to the bottom and read in chronological order, which avoids that problem. But sometimes I’ll go in just to do a quick check of the latest postings and it’s annoying not to be able to simply flag the items I’ve scanned, as I then have to duplicate that work on a later visit.

    Of course what this flags up is that Google should incorporate a Salesforce Ideas-style feedback mechanism for suggesting and voting on enhancements into its GReader home page – instead of assuming its rocket scientists have an algorithm for working out what’s best for us 🙂

  5. “instead of assuming its rocket scientists have an algorithm for working out what’s best for us” – especially since those rocket scientists live in al always-connected environment…

  6. Oh wow. I didn’t realize you could take your feeds offline and synchronize WITH GReader to a certain extent! Mind informing me of how I can accomplish this?

    Great post. Be sure to email the GReader time if you haven’t already, with this post included. Maybe something will happen?

    Zentrice with Gmail is my email.

  7. Corvida, here are the Reader Offline instructions:

  8. I can’t believe this still isn’t fixed…


  1. […] be great, for those “unconnected” moments (hours), and I certainly hope they will avoid dumb mistakes that made Google Reader almost useless […]

%d bloggers like this: