inessential by Brent Simmons

Things you may not know about NetNewsWire 3.1 (part one: browser stuff)

Every time we do a new release of NetNewsWire we get new users and a ton of feedback.

With the 3.1 release this was a bit more than normal because, well, it’s free now, and because we actually open a page in NetNewsWire where we ask people for feedback. (The page opens automatically, just once, two weeks after running NetNewsWire the first time.)

I spent a couple hours today reading some of this feedback, and realized it’s time to do a few posts on things you may not know about NetNewsWire. (By the way, reading feedback is pretty fun. Folks are nice. ;)

It plays video and Flash

The most common feature request in the feedback I read today is that NetNewsWire should play video, Flash, YouTube, etc.

It does. It’s turned off by default, but it’s easy to turn on.

Open Preferences, click Browsing. Click the News Items tab—to enable Flash and video, make sure the box next to Enable plug-ins is checked.

Click the Web Pages tab and repeat to do the same thing for web pages.

A couple things to know, though:

1. On some machines, you may have to enable plug-ins for both news items and web pages in order to make them work in web pages.

2. Plug-ins are off by default because they’re unstable and eat lots of memory. (Flash in particular.) So if you run into memory or crashing issues, the first thing to try is turning off plug-ins.

You can open tabs in the background

When you open the page for a news item, the page opens in front, by default. Lots of people have asked (in the feedback) for a way to make the tab open in the background instead.

Here’s how:

Open Preferences, click Browsing, click the Behavior tab (if necessary), and uncheck the box next to Select new tabs as they are created.

If you use an external browser instead of NetNewsWire’s browser, you can tell it to open links in the browser in the background. Check the box next to Open links in background.

It’s super-easy to go from a web page back to the News Items tab

Hit the \\ key.

You can have traditional browser tabs—tabs across the top—instead of vertical tabs

Some people prefer browser tabs across the top—horizontal, no thumbnails. It’s easy to do: choose Tab > Position Tabs on Top.

To go back to vertical tabs, choose Tab > Position Tabs on Right.

You can hide the subscriptions list when reading a web page

There’s not a lot of room to read web pages when you have the subscriptions list showing and vertical tabs. You can tell NetNewsWire to hide the subscriptions list when a web page is showing: choose View > Automatically Hide Subscriptions List.

(This is what I do, by the way. A personal favorite feature.)

You can make text bigger/smaller

We don’t have toolbar commands for making text bigger and smaller, but we do have menu commands. See View > Make Text Bigger and View > Make Text Smaller. They even have the standard keyboard shortcuts.

You can close all your tabs

Choose Tab > Close All Tabs.

You can do a linkdump of your tabs

If you want to post all your tabs to your weblog, or just save them on disk (perhaps to email to somebody), you can. See Tab > Post Tabs to Weblog and Tab > Export Tabs.

You can open a news item using the opposite of your prefs

If you normally open news items in NetNewsWire, but want to open it in your default browser instead, type option-return.

To open a link in an HTML view in your default browser: shift-click the link.

You can set font preferences for news items and web pages

Open Preferences, click Fonts, click the News Items tab, then set your preferences. Click the Web Pages tab and do the same for web pages.

Note, however, that some styles may use a different font than your preference—just as some web pages do too.

You can easily switch from tab to tab

Type 9 to go up (or left) in the tabs list. Type 0 to go down (or right) in the tabs list.

You can open the current page in your default browser

If you’re reading a web page, and want to open it in your default external browser, type cmd-option-B. (Or pull down the gear menu and choose Open in Default Browser.)

You can send a web page via email

Choose File > Mail Contents of this Page or File > Mail Link to This Page.

You can use commands like Post to Weblog, etc. on web pages

They’re enabled for web pages as well as for news items.

You can search for text on a web page

It’s not that cool incremental search, but you can type cmd-F to do run the Find panel on a web page. (Obviously, of course, I want to do that cool Safari-like search.)

You can do a Google search

In the address bar, type g followed by a space, followed by whatever you want to search for, as in g iPhone SDK. Then hit return. Or use the search field in the toolbar—click the triangle to pull down the list of search options. (Not intended as a Monocle replacement, however. ;)

You can subscribe to feeds linked-to from a web page

When viewing a web page, to the right of the address bar is a bluish RSS icon—it’s a popup menu. Click on it to choose a feed from the page to subscribe to.

(It’s disabled when NetNewsWire doesn’t detect any feeds linked-to from the page.)