18 August 2009

Another Google Reader "Send To" trick

Less than a week has passed since the Google Reader team launched a new feature to improve sharing directly from the app and there are already lots of tips on the web showing how to extend the range of build-in services.

The feature is extremely flexible and easy to use, almost like having a collection of bookmarklets. Of course, there are some advantages over bookmarklets: you don't have to load the original page to use them and if you are using multiple browsers these small links in Google Reader stay with you when you switch. On top of that, I usually keep the bookmark bar hidden to save screen space, so to use a bookmarklet I must also show the bookmark bar, which takes another second or two.

I created a 'custom link' in Google Reader, for the shortening service bit.ly. I use it at work to post to twitter, since it is blocked. I had to search a little to find the icon, but otherwise this is easy stuff:

In Google Reader, go to 'Settings' > 'Sent To' > click 'Create a custom link' and fill the required fields like this:

Name: bit.ly
URL: http://bit.ly/?v=3&u=${url}&s=${title}
Icon URL: http://bit.ly/static/images/favicon.png
Settings for custom bit.ly link in Google Reader

This link behaves exactly like going to the bit.ly homepage and pasting a link in the box. If you like to have a simple shortened link without the title of the page, just remove &s=${title} from the URL parameter.

Google Reader Send To menu with custom bit.ly link
This is how the custom link looks like in Google Reader:

I'm curious if there is a way to reorder the links from the 'Send To' menu, I would like to have bit.ly at the top.

Update: are some more custom links for Google Reader, including for sharing on LinkedIn.


  1. Well done. Now if you could make it copy the result and paste into Gmail, I could give up on thinking altogether.

  2. I'm sure this could be done with a little more programming, but probably too much to fit in a "Send To" link.

    And I'm sure the links are meant to help you get things done more easily, not to take away your thinking :)

  3. Glad I found this. Thank you. Is it possible to modify the custom link so that a sentence or phrase that I highlight shows in the bit.ly link that opens?

    Thank you.

  4. Hi, zzz...
    Sorry, I don't think that's possible inside Google Reader. The only arguments they provide for these links are 'source', 'title', 'URL' and 'Short URL'.

  5. Thanks for your considerate response. I also find that when I use this send to, the bit.ly shortens the reader url instead of the url of the item I am sharing.

    Am i doing something wrong?

  6. Yes, I noticed the same thing.
    However, it doesn't happen by all feeds: for example by Blogger feeds the correct original URL is shortened, whereas the ones from PC World get redirected through another service.
    I'm pretty sure this has to do with the way these pages feed their items in Google Reader.

  7. I found this here: http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/08/google-readers-send-to-feature.html

    Name: Google Bookmarks
    URL: http://www.google.com/bookmarks/mark?op=edit&output=popup&bkmk=${url}&title=${title}
    Icon URL: http://www.google.com/favicon.ico

    Can't this be modified so that the right link is picked from reader when you send to bit.ly?

    May be what i am asking is absurd, but i don't know anything about software.


  8. Yes, I know the link to Google Bookmarks and use it too.
    It you try it, you will unfortunately experience the same issue: the bookmarked URL belongs to the feed and not the original article.
    I think this is a small inconvenience that the Google Reader team should sort out.

  9. I checked that, and most of the times it picks the right link- and then there is something called feedproxy- such as this one: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seedmagazine/articles/~3/ssJHr9mGmE4/

    May be they have resolved it, or i don't know what i am talking about.

    Thank you.

  10. But I also found this here:

    "Google Reader included us in their new “send-to” feature, which lets you share any post on Twitter, automatically shortening long URLs with bit.ly."
    - http://blog.bit.ly/post/171562185/new-api-and-partner-integrations

    when I tried to send to twitter, reader automatically shortened the link into bit.ly so I think this issue has come an end!

    Thanks for your help.



  11. Thanks for the tip. I'm using your code with one minor change. Instead of pointing to bit.ly I'm using j.mp. Saving two characters from the start is great.

  12. Only problem with the Reader-bit.ly integration is it doesnt recognize the automated links as yours even if youre logged into bit.ly

    Your script is awesome, thanks for writing it! Only issue I have seen with it thus far is that it doesnt put a space btwn the article title & the url so when it is in bit.ly it doesnt auto-shorten and requires you to put in the space yourself. Is that just a GoogleReader SendTo script quirk?

  13. Hi, LNN!
    That's strange! It used to work fine before.
    I can't find any explanation for this. If you use the Google Reader Send To button and the bookmarklet, they both generate the same URL, so the app should shorten it.
    After you get the error "Cannot shorten URL", if you refresh the page, bit.ly will stop complaining and actually give you a short URL! Maybe it's a temporary problem on their end.