Readability: a wonderfully useful add-on

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Thanks to my friend Eileen this week for alerting me to a fantastic add-on for viewing content on the web: Readability.

Readability

If you get your news from the internet, you know that it comes with a price.  Not a monetary price necessarily, but an “annoyance” price.  All you want to do is read a particular news story, and the whole page is cluttered up with text ads, display ads, Flash ads (many with images that are bouncing or moving around, and some even with sound), links to other stories, and all kinds of JUNK that is of no interest when you just want to read the story.

(In defense of the news sites, I know they have to make money somehow.  We pay nothing to view the content on the site, and without all that other stuff to help pay for the site, there would be no news to read.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it though.)

Enter Readability (www.readability.com).  When you are on a web page like I described above and you just want to read the article, all you have to do is click the Readability icon.  The page magically transforms, and you will see a wonderfully clean space with the text of the article you want to read.  When you are finished, just click the Back button to return to the previous cluttered page.

Here’s an example.  This is what a current MSN news page “normally” looks like (the items in red are unrelated to the article on the page):

news story

When Readability has converted it, it looks like this:

news story converted

Readability is built as an add-on for Firefox, Safari and Chrome.  You can also use it with Internet Explorer, as a Favorites button.  There are full instructions on the site – when you go to the home page, just click “Get the Free Add-on” and follow the directions.  You might also want to watch the brief video to get an overview of what it does.

Have you tried Readability?  Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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