How-To: Sync NewsFire on Multiple Computers

It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting a tech pundit eager to tell you that RSS is dead. Personally, I’m not buying it. RSS feeds and readers are the No. 1 way I stay up to date with online content, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Over the years I’ve tried out a number of different feed readers including NetNewsWire, Google Reader, Fever, and on and on. Each time I switch though, I always find my way back to NewsFire. For me it’s just the perfect balance of form and function. Well, it’s almost perfect. To paraphrase Churchill I’d say that NewsFire is actually the worst RSS reader, except for all the other RSS readers. The major gaps in my mind are its inability to sync across multiple machines and the lack of an app for the iPhone (s aapl). As with all things in technology though, there are a lot of ways to skin that cat.

As someone who splits his time among multiple Macs, having the ability to sync my news reader across those machines is a must. If I’m on my work machine paging through new items, when I get home I obviously want those items to show up as having been read. Out of the box NewsFire has no option for syncing but a workable solution turns out to be shockingly simple: Download the free version of Dropbox, create some symbolic links to a few key points on each computer and it’s done. Changes made on one computer are synced through Dropbox and show up on the other.

Setting up the Sync

First, move the follow folder and files into your Dropbox:

~/library/Application Support/NewsFire

You’ll then need to replace them with symbolic links. To create a symbolic link just fire up the Terminal and use the ln command. The format will be (ln -s) (filepath to target) (filepath to link), for example:

[sourcecode]ln -s /Users/yournamehere/Dropbox/newsfiresymlinks/org.xlife.NewsFire.plist /Users/yournamehere/Library/Preferences[/sourcecode]

When you finish making the symlink for the preference file you’ll need to lock it to prevent the application from overwriting it when you quit. To lock it, just right click the file to “Get Info” and select the Locked option.

Now just use the same Dropbox account to link up NewsFire installs on your other machines and you’ll be able to stay in sync. There is one caveat: In order to add new feeds you’ll have to first unlock the .plist file on one end, make the change and then re-link it. For the most part, however, my feeds are already set and I’m really just interested in making sure that the status of an item can be passed back and forth between machines.

Obviously, this approach is not as good as baked-in support would be. But I’m hopeful that we’ll soon see an updated version of NewsFire that will not only support syncing but also close that other major gap, iPhone support. It’s been a long while since NewsFire’s developer David Watanabe dropped this tease about a possible iPhone app. I just hope he can tear himself away from Xtorrent updates long enough to show NewsFire some love.