Most people hate reading on a computer screen, but many of those people also spend hours reading online, so what’s the solution?  Try Readability.  I was reading an interview with John Joseph Adams, an editor for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a guy who has to do A LOT of reading, and he mentioned he liked to read submissions on his Mac with a utility called Tofu.  I immediately jumped over to the Tofu site to discover there wasn’t a Windows version.  Bummer!  I even jumped over to the Apple Store to price a Mac, but quickly abandoned that bright idea when I was slapped hard by sticker shock.  Necessity being the mother of Googling, I made several attempts to find the right search phrase until I found Readability.  [Note to Tofu people – naming your product with the same name as common food is a poor marketing decision.]

I have no idea how Readability works, but it’s magic.  Go to their site, play around with the controls to find a reading style you like, and then right-click the Readability button and select add to Favorites.  (I’m using IE, so it will be slightly different for other browsers.)  Then go to a web page you want to read that’s not very eye friendly readable, select Readability from your Favorites, and Presto-Chango the page is Harry Potterly reformatted for easy reading.

Readability doesn’t work with every web page, nor does it retain all the page features you may want to see – it will filter out videos, but it gets the feature photos while somehow filtering out the ad graphics.  So if you visit a web page that looks like a hood of a racing car covered with ads, this little gem of a utility will clean up your view.

Readability works best on pages with long articles and not pages with lots of reading snippets.  Readability makes most web pages into large print book reading.  Most web designers must be 19 year old kids with better than 20-20 vision who work on giant Macintosh monitors who never imagine people will come to their web pages wanting to read that bland annoying text stuff that clutters up their beautiful graphical layouts.

Often when reading web essays with tiny text, where the layout locks out my browser’s ability to enlarge the font, I’ll cut and paste the text into Word just so I could read it.  Readability automatically does that now.  Readability is like having a Kindle for blog pages where you can easily set up your default reading style so everything you buy to read is formatted for your personal reading pleasure.

Web browser programmers should program this concept into every browser, rather than replying on the Text size feature, which is often disappointing to use.

Very cool.  So cool I added Readability to my Favorites Bar in IE.  Now when I’m on a web page which I want to spend some time reading, I click the Readability button and Shazam, the page becomes easy to read.  Unfortunately, Readability doesn’t work like Tofu with computer documents, so I still want to find an app for Windows that does that.  If you know of one, let me know.

JWH – 12/5/9

2 thoughts on “Readability”

  1. Hey, that sounds nifty. I’ll be checking it out. At least it doesn’t filter out the photos, and hopefully they will soon find a way to configure it so that video is not affected either. I have a couple of friends who I think would really benefit from something like this, friends who frequently complain of how various sites look and how difficult they are to read.

  2. Hi,
    I am a fan of Readability as well, and wrote a blog post on it myself. Then I realized lots of other folks have been blogging about it as well and decided to find out what they had to say so here I am :-). In my readings I came upon another tool called Quietube for videos that I blogged about – check it out .

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