Blog Post

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.

8 Responses to “How-To: Sync NewsFire on Multiple Computers”

  1. NeilKo

    This is cool. A wee bit technical for me, but I’m trying to work through it. My question is that it seems as though DropBox has some serious similarities to MobileMe, to which I already pay a fee. Am I correct? Is there a similar, simple and straightforward way to do this with MobileMe, instead? Thnx.

  2. I couldn’t find ~/Library/Caches/org.xlife.NewsFire. All I found in /Caches was another directory called NewsFire. Moving that to DropBox (along with the Application Support directory and the plist) did NOT work. When I opened Newsfire I just got a brand new install with the default feeds.

  3. delphinus87

    Although it’s not a “sync”, there’s a way to export your list of feeds from Google Reader to NewsFire. Go to Google Reader > Settings > Reader Settings > Import/Export > Export your subscriptions as a OPML file.

    It’ll download an XML file, click Get Info on this, then under Name and Extension, change the .xml to .opml.

    In NewsFire, go File > Import Feeds from OPML… and select your new file. Select all the feeds you want and let it download.

    Like I said, not a “sync”, so to speak, but if you have a bunch of Google Reader feeds, this is an “easy” way to export them.

    Fingers crossed for a NewsFire 2.0 Google Reader sync ^^

  4. great post. i’m surprised you went back to newsfire after trying fever. i’ve used fever for two weeks now and i can honestly say that i’ve never been this “dialed in” on what’s going on.

    newsfire is a nice reader, i never could get around the lack of syncing though. you’ve got a solution that can help some people.