Have It (Read It) Your Way

Don’t even try to read the following post without watching the video above. It’s only a minute long, and it will put you in such a good mood for reading further!

There. That said, I don’t like to read. Let me clarify. I don’t enjoy reading books. I’ve read online that is a stupid thing to admit, ’cause it makes me sound stupid, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I do read books. I’m reading quite a few right now. I’m just not the person who will participate much in the conversations that start out with “Have you read so and so’s latest. . .”

I sometimes think I have a reading disability because of the people that I know and work with who love “curling up with a good book”. I curl up with a good movie, generally. But I do read, a lot. There’s this cool thing that I read every day. It’s called the Internet. Most of my day is spent reading. Though the joke at DTLT is that my job is mostly watching YouTube. I do that too.

However, here’s my evidence that there’s hope for me. I got all excited about an extension for my Safari web browser called Custom Reader (Download it from MacUpdate alternatively). What is it? Well it’s a plugin (extension) for Safari that will give you more options for the built in “Reader“. What does Reader do? It formats a given web page in a more readable way.

Reader button

You click the button at the end of the Safari address bar and you get a new, uncluttered view of your web page, without all the ads and flashing crap that many web sites bombard you with. It turns this:

Regular NY Times Article

Into this:

Reader NY Times Article

However, Safari gives you little choice over the look of reader. You can zoom in to give you a larger type face, but you are stuck with a “serif” font, and I dislike reading on the web with serif fonts. Enter Custom Reader. It gives you all manner of control over how a Reader article is presented. The extension gives you an extra button on the Reader toolbar.

New Reader Toolbar

Clicking on the Configure button gives you the CustomReader Settings dialog.

CustomReader Settings

Now you can customize to your hearts content. “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us.” You can now read the web “your way”.

I have bounced from web browser to web browser in my lifetime. Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome (and now back to Safari). Most of the modern browsers offer some way to customize the reading of web pages. With Safari it’s built in. There are services and plugins that can be used with any browser. Instapaper is one of them. It’s a service that you feed URLs to and it gives you the new view. There are also “bookmarklets” that you can use to give you the new view instantly.

One of my favorite custom reader plugins is called Evernote Clearly. Unfortunately, it isn’t available for Safari (yet?). In Google Chrome it looks lovely. (By the way if you’re not using Evernote yet, what the hell . . .)

Evernote Clearly in Chrome

It even gives you text-to-speech if you have an Evernote Premium account. However, since I am in the Safari world, I needed another answer and have found Custom Reader.

The point of all of this is you don’t have to read the web the way people want you to read it. You can read it your way. And maybe for people like me, it will at least make web reading more enjoyable.


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