This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

How do you use Newsgator?

I've been thinking that there has to be something more to using NewsGator than what I'm doing.  It's an Outlook plug-in, so the interface is as flexible (or not) as the Outlook interface. 

NewsGator has a webby NewsPage that can be applied to any NG folder, but I find with a couple hundred feeds that the NewsPage isn't terribly useful.  I think it would work fine for a small number of feeds, or if I were keeping up with the feeds all the time.  Keyboard shortcuts might help, but I perceive the use of the NewsPage interface to be completely different than the one-article-at-time usage that I prefer.

As I've mentioned earlier, I group feeds into topics within NewsGator, and these topics are also the names of the folder into which the feeds are grouped.  To read these, I could just open the folder and view messages.  As with any Outlook folder, this will show me both read and unread messages.  To get only unread items, I have set up Outlook search folders for each folder that shows me only unread messages.  (This was based on a suggestion from the NewsGator forums, I believe.)

When reading within one of these search folders, I normally turn on the "group by" function, so I see all posts from a given feed together.  And I display Subject, Received, Categories, and Post Author in the listing.  I normally use the Outlook vertical preview pane, so I only get to see Subject, Received and Categories in the listing.  I'm less worried about the author, since most blogs are single-author.  Now if I could figure out how to tell Outlook to always apply this view to new NewsGator folders.  (Outlook 2003 has a terrible GUI with respect to setting folder display options - several menu layers deep.)

It seems there should be a better way to use Outlook + NewsGator.  I'd love to hear your suggestions.  I'm also cross-posting this into the NG user forum to see if I can get any suggestions there.  I've also seen news of an impending new release of NewsGator, so maybe some of this will be explained - or some of those long-awaited features will be available.

Update: In an email conversation with Brian, I realized I need to give better context on how I use NewsGator.  I've added pictures below to give a better idea of how I have been using NG. 

This view (click to enlarge) is my regular reading view.  I've selected the search folder for "Almost Regular."  The search folder is all unread articles from the "Almost Regular" folder within NewsGator.  This way I get only unread articles.  When I want to get read articles, I head to the folder.  (Actually, I head to Google Desktop, which indexes my NewsGator files, just like it indexes everything else.)  My default view uses the preview pane with items grouped by the feed name and then sorted reverse chronologically.  I've set it up to show me the category for the post in the listing, if it exists.  The author isn't so important, as I know who is writing in most feeds.

I use the standard Outlook keyboard shortcuts (or the mouse) to navigate through the articles.  Starting at the top, I use the space bar to scroll through an individual item.  Space bar will also jump me to the next article in the list, so I use this fairly regularly.  If the focus is on the article list, I can use the arrow keys to maneuver up / down.  The left arrow will collapse the active group (right arrow expands).  With an entire group selected I can Ctrl-Q to mark all as read, Ctrl-U for unread.  These keys work on individual or selected articles too.  I find Ctrl-Q helpful when I am scanning through the "Gurus" or other folders that I don't read as deeply.  I'm annoyed that I frequently need to use Tab or F6 to move from the article body pane to the article listing pane in relation to marking articles as read.

This image shows Fetchlinks in action.  This particular feed doesn't offer full text feeds, but I want to follow his writings.  The Fetchlinks plug-in grabs all the html for the entry and displays it as you see here.  The rendering doesn't always work this nicely due to window size problems.

When I am traveling or in a reading frenzy, I will sometimes use flags to mark articles for blogging (blue), further reading (orange), or other reasons.  Does anyone know how to make the Flag Status column reappear, so that I can more easily flag articles?  Adding it via the Field Chooser doesn't seem to work.

This image gives a basic view of NewsGator and the NewsPage, which I don't use regularly.  The NewsPage is essentially a web page, where one can expand each topic folder.  Clicking on a link within the text of the NewsPage opens the URL within Outlook.  Clicking on the title of the item will open a new window with the post item that NG creates for each item in the feed.  Marking as read requires that I explicitly click each item.

I may post more images as I play with this some more.  Or it may become a separate posting.

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