Review: Leaf, a minimalist RSS reader for the Mac

Leaf for OS X app icon full size 002

Leaf for Mac by Rocky Sand Studio is one of the most elegant and easy to use RSS readers available in the Mac App Store. Selected by Apple as one of its Best New Apps of 2015, this powerful app has gone free for the firs time since its inception, but for the next 24 hours only.

Leaf offers a carefully crafted set of essential features regularly used by average users, but don’t let that fool you—this is a very capable app.

Leaf offers light/dark theme, supports popular syncing and sharing services, has a clutter-free mode, customizable keyboard shortcuts, supports trackpad gestures and notifications and much more.

If I were you, I’d grab Leaf right now before the price goes back up.

Choose your RSS service

On first run, you’ll be asked to please select your favorite RSS service.

The application has a built-in local RSS engine without syncing capabilities, but also supports some of the most popular RSS syncing services and applications such as Feedly, Feedbag, Feed Wrangler and NewsBlur. I’m a Feedly user and was able to successfully log in with my account using the Google+ login option in no time.

Leaf for OS X Mac screenshot 005

For those wondering, Leaf supports RSS, RDF and ATOM formats.

Minimalist interface

After a few seconds of syncing, the app presented me with my RSS subscriptions divided into groups, as determined by my Feedly account. The minimalist interface gets out of the way, allowing you to focus on catching up on news. The three-column layout puts your RSS subscriptions in the lefthand column, with the article list in the middle column and actual content in the rightmost column.

Leaf for OS X Mac screenshot 004

Gestures, shortcuts and other customizations

Support for trackpad gestures and a bunch of keyboard shortcuts make Leaf a very productive application in terms of daily usage. You can elect to receive push notifications for new articles as they hit your RSS feed, with or without sound, and access past articles through OS X’s Notification Center.

Leaf for OS X Mac screenshot 003

The settings interface lets you choose your desired refresh interval, when articles are marked as read, select your default RSS reader, enable or disable gestures and notifications, have the links open in a browser, optionally enable a slower sync process which uses less CPU time and more.

Clutter-free reading mode

Leaf also features a beautiful clutter-free reading mode.

Leaf for OS X Mac screenshot 002

Like Pocket, Readability, Safari Reader and other read-later applications, Leaf’s clutter-free mode basically gets rid of article formatting and ads, so that only the text and the images are shown. In addition to clutter-free mode, Leaf also offers the built-in web view, which loads the original article, and Summary mode that’s useful for quickly browsing your feed as it only displays the summary paragraph.

Dark mode and other goodies

It also supports OS X’s full screen mode and has an optional dark interface.

Leaf for OS X Mac screenshot 001

Other features include themes and such customizations as support for third-party sharing services, the ability to save articles to Buffer, Evernote, Pocket, Readability, Instapaper, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and more.

Leaf does not offer as many advanced features as other RSS readers, but its minimalist interface and the right (essential) set of carefully chosen features make this a very capable app that you’re wholeheartedly recommended to get for free today, even if you follow news via RSS feeds on an occasional basis.

Pricing and availability

Leaf requires an Intel-based Mac with OS X 10.9 Mavericks or later. The app is English-only and typically retails for anywhere between $1.99 and $19.99. Its most recent price right before today’s discount was set to $19.99.

Leaf is available for free today only so you’re advised to grab this capable RSS news reader now before the price goes back up.

Grab Leaf at no charge in the Mac App Store, for one day only.