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Importing Safari's RSS feeds into Google Reader (OPML export)

This is about a little program that makes your RSS feeds available as OPML files so that they can be imported into Google Reader.


Recently, the Safari web browser stopped providing its own news feed reader, leaving us users to find a new feed reader as a replacement.

Migrating the existing feeds into a new reader may be challenging, as there's little guidance for importing Safari's feeds for some of the reader apps I've tried.

In my case I found that the feeds are still known on my system, however: I can see them if I enter the command "pubsub list" in Terminal.app. This gives me a list of all subscribed feeds. Also, the feed bookmarks are still available in Safari - even if opening them doesn't show them in Safari any more, they're still there unless one explicitly deletes them, fortunately.

Now, in 2010 I've written a little program that would convert Safari feeds into OPML files that you could then import into other news readers, particularly "Google Reader". This tool required you to explicitly export the bookmarks from Safari and then drop them onto my tool.

I've improved the program now (Dec 2012) to also list all the feeds that the "pubsub" systems knows of. This allows you to skip the part of exporting the feed bookmarks through Safari, and even may show you feeds from other programs that use the "pubsub" service from OS X.

The OPML files that this app generates can then be imported by other feed readers, supposedly (I've only tested this with Google Reader so far, though).


Here's the program, ready for OS X: SafariFeedToOPML_2.0.zip

Need this for Windows? Let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

(There's also the source code, which requires Real Studio, though: SafariFeedToOPML_2.0.rbp.zip)

Change history

  • Aug 1, 2010: v1.0, first release.
  • Aug 2, 2010: v1.0.1, uses Unix (LF) instead of Classic Mac (CR) line endings in opml file now.
  • Sep 14, 2010: v1.0.2, fixes titles and URLs that Google Reader's import does not like (such as quotation marks and ampersands) and also allows the drop of entire folders containing .inetloc files.
  • Dec 12, 2012: v2.0, now using "pubsub" tool to list all feeds known to OS X.

How To Use (generating the OPML file)

The new way (simpler but not working for everyone):

  1. Launch my app (Safari Feed to OPML.app). This opens a window listing all the "pubsub" feeds. If that list shows all your feeds, you can go ahead here. Otherwise, if you feel that it doesn't list all your feeds (some users tell me that this list is practically empty, i.e. all the Safari feeds are gone from it), skip this part and go on with the "classic way" further below.
  2. Select the feeds you want to export to OPML. Typically, press cmd+A to select all items.
  3. Click on the ''Write OPML..." button and choose a folder where to save the new file. I suggest using the Desktop folder.
  4. With that, you have generated the OPML file for import into other Feed Readers. You can delete the folder created in step 1 now.

The classic way

  1. Create a new folder on your disk, e.g. on the Desktop, name it what you like. That's where the exported bookmarks will temporily go.
  2. Export the desired RSS bookmarks from Safari: From its menu, use Bookmarks -> Show All Bookmarks.
  3. On the left pane, switch to All RSS Feeds. Safari 6 and later won't show this item any more though. Instead, you'll have to find the feeds in your bookmark folders by hand. One way is to use the search field at the top right and enter "feed://"
  4. Select which feeds you want to export (for all, just press Command-A), then drag them to the folder created in step one.
  5. Launch my app (Safari Feed to OPML.app).
  6. Press cmd+O or choose from the "File" menu: "Open .inetloc Window". This opens a new window. Close the other window titled "Your 'pubsub' feeds" to get it out of the way.
  7. Switch back to the Finder, open the folder from step 1 and drag all its files into the app's window, or just drag the folder's icon into the window. The app should then list all these RSS bookmarks in its window.
  8. Click on the ''Write OPML..." button and choose a folder where to save the new file. I suggest using the Desktop folder again.
  9. With that, you have generated the OPML file for import into other Feed Readers. You can delete the folder created in step 1 now.

Using the OPML file

You can import the OPML file into Google Reader (go to its Reader settings, then to its Import/Export tab).

Further Notes

If you import your feeds into Google Reader, there's no harm in using both above methods, i.e. generate the OPML file once from "pubsub" and once from the feed bookmarks in Safari: Google Reader is smart enough to avoid creating duplicates, meaning you can repeat the above steps as often you as you like, even from various computers if you have several Macs with slightly different sets of feeds. Google Reader will collect them all, and then you can delete or re-arrange them into groups afterwards.

To read Google Reader feeds on your Mac, I recommend the free program Gruml. Not only does it notify you of new feeds and shows them in Safari if you like, but it does also add RSS links you click on to Google Reader, making this an almost perfect replacement for Safari's own RSS support, along with automatic sync of your feeds between multiple computers as it used to be with MobileMe.

I hope this helps. Enjoy.

Page last modified on 2012-12-12, 17:04 UTC (do)
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