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Current release All downloads GitHub license

baRSS – Menu Bar RSS Reader


What is it?

A RSS & Atom feed reader that lives in the system status bar.
Very much inspired by RSS Menu; go ahead and check that out.

baRSS will automatically update feeds for you, and inform you when new content is available. The new articles are just a menu away.


baRSS is unobtrusive, fast, and built from scratch with minimal footprint in mind. The application uses less than 30 Mb memory and has a ridiculous file size of 1 Mb.

Speaking of reducing web traffic. In contrast to other applications, baRSS does not save any cached web sessions or cookies as a matter of fact. But it will reuse ETag and Last-Modified headers to avoid unnecessary transmissions. Further, tuning the update frequently will decrease the traffic even more.

Download & Install

Requires macOS Sierra (10.12) or higher.

Easy way

Go to releases and downloaded the latest version.
Searching for the App Store release? Read this notice.

Build from source

You'll need Xcode and Carthage. The latter is optional, you can build the RSXML2 library from source instead. Carthage just makes it more convenient. Download and unzip this project, navigate to the root folder and run carthage bootstrap --platform macOS.

Next, you need to clone QLOPML in the same folder where this project is. Alternatively, you can simply delete the QLOPML project reference without much harm. QLOPML is a Quick Look plugin for .opml files. It will display the file contents whenever you hit spacebar.

That's it. Open Xcode and build the project. Note, there are some compiler flags that append ‘beta’ to the development release. If you prefer the optimized release version go to Product > Archive.

Hidden options

This listing contains of options that have no UI that can be configured. Most likely, you wouldn't ever stumble upon these if not reading this chapter. Note: To reset an option run defaults delete de.relikd.baRSS {KEY}, where {KEY} is an option from below.

  1. If you hold down the option key and click on an article item, you can mark a single item (un-)read.

  2. When holding down the option key, the menu will show an item to open only a few unread items at a time. This number can be changed with the following Terminal command (default: 10):

defaults write de.relikd.baRSS openFewLinksLimit -int 10
  1. In preferences you can choose to show ‘Short article names’. This will limit the number of displayed characters to 60 (default). With this Terminal command you can customize this limit:
defaults write de.relikd.baRSS shortArticleNamesLimit -int 50
  1. Limit the number of displayed articles per feed menu. Note: displayed unread count may be different than the unread items inside (‘Open unread’ will open hidden items too).
defaults write de.relikd.baRSS articlesInMenuLimit -int 40
  1. You can change the appearance of colors throughout the application. E.g., The tint color of the menu bar icon and the color of the blue dot of unread articles.
defaults write de.relikd.baRSS colorStatusIconTint -string "#37F"
defaults write de.relikd.baRSS colorUnreadIndicator -string "#FBA33A"
  1. To backup your list of subscribed feeds, here is a one-liner:
open barss:backup && cp "$HOME/Library/Containers/de.relikd.baRSS/Data/Library/Application Support/baRSS/backup/feeds_latest.opml" "$HOME/Desktop/baRSS_backup_$(date "+%Y-%m-%d").opml"


The following list is not exhaustive but rather a collection of nice things that will be added eventually. I may postpone some until demand increases …

  •  Localizations
  • Feed generator for websites without feeds
  • Automatically choose best update interval (e.g., avg)
  • Sync with online services
  • Feeds with authentication
  • Notification Center
  • Distraction Mode
    • Distract less: Sleep timer. (e.g., disable updates during working hours)
    • Distract more: Automatically open feed items
  • Add support for media types
    • music / video? (open media player)
    • Pure image feed? (show images directly in menu)
  • Per feed / group settings
    • select launch application (e.g., for podcasts)
    • exclude unread count from menu bar (e.g., unimportant feeds)
  • Infinite storage. (load more button)


App Store Notice

In the last couple of months I prepared baRSS to be released on the App Store. With sandboxing enabled and hardened runtime environment, etc.

But, for the time being, I decided to not publish this app for political reasons. I was not happy about some decisions made in the last weeks. Decisions that were evaluated on monetary aspects and not on ethical considerations. I won't support this conduct with my own money.

If you find this app somewhere on the App Store, you can be sure that it is a counterfeit. As long as you can read this very notice, I am not responsible for the publication. Further, I can't guarantee the App Store version wasn't modified by a malicious actor to spy on you.

Why create something that already existed?

First, open source is awesome! Secondly, RSS Menu made some design decisions I didn't like. For example, the new integrated browser window.

One thing I liked most, was the fact that feeds were opened in the default browser. Not like 99% of the other feed readers on the market that show a separate HTML viewer window. No rendering issues, no broken links, no content that is different from the actual news article.

I know, the whole purpose of RSS is to deliver content without the need of opening a webpage. But for me RSS is more about being informed whenever a blog or news feed has some updated content. E.g, subscribing to video channels without having to have an account.

Why is this project not written in Swift?!

Actually, I started this project with Swift. Even without adding much functionality, the app was exceeding the 10 Mb file size. The working alpha version, written in Objective-C, had only 500 Kb. The reason being that Swift frameworks are always packed into the final application.

Sadly, this was before Swift 5 and ABI stability. Had I only started the project a year later… But on the other hand, now it is macOS 10.12 compatible.

3rd Party Libraries

This project uses a modified version of Brent Simmons’ RSXML for feed parsing. RSXML2 is licensed under a MIT license (same as this project).

  • Start of project: July 19, 2018
  • Estimated development time: 1953h+
  • First prototype used feedparser python library