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Definition: newsreader

Either a separate program or built into the Web browser, a newsreader is used to read messages from syndication feeds such as RSS and Atom. Newsreaders were first used for Usenet, the Internet-based discussion groups that existed a decade before the Web came about.

Also called an "RSS reader," "news aggregator," "feed viewer" or "headline viewer," some newsreader programs provide a search capability for both newsgroups and feeds as well as local email messages, contacts and other files.

The term originally referred to command-line Unix utilities, such as pine, nn, rn and tin, that were used only for Usenet discussions. Graphics-based newsreaders were subsequently developed for Windows and Mac, and newsreader functionality was later incorporated into Web browsers and email programs. See Usenet, newsgroup and syndication format.