What is a Newsgroup Newsreader and which should I choose?

What is a Newsgroup Newsreader and why do you need one? Jump Straight to the Newsreader table

Usenet is really just a huge interactive database where all the records get copied and shared among all the usenet providers. There’s the data (the articles) and the headers (the index). There is no web page or HTML or anything – it’s just a big database. So typically you need software on your PC (or Mac, or Smartphone, or whatever) to view the contents of the database. That software is called a Usenet Newsreader. (There is at least on online newsreader too, which we have included in the table below).

Most Usenet (Newsgroup) newsreader software connects to your usenet provider using an internet address that your provider gives you. The first time you connect, it sucks down a list of all the group names on the server. You tell it which groups you would like to see the index of (i.e. the headers) and it downloads them all and saves them on your PC. Then you pick which articles or attachments you want to see based on the description in the headers, and the software goes out and downloads the articles and attached files and stores them on your hard disk. There are also a few newsreader programs that do not download headers (an index) for you. They rely upon article lists that you must find yourself using a file format known as NZB via usenet indexing websites.

Nearly all the newsreader programs have ways to save your favorite groups, build lists of file types that you prefer to download, filter out posters that you find annoying (i.e. spammers). Most let you post articles as well as read and download. SSL (encrypted data transfer) is built into the latest releases of just about every product. And – because there are SOO MANY ways to select, view, filter, and preview articles, the interfaces are quite often a bit confusing until you play with them for a while. None of them are perfect.

Features that we think add special value to a usenet newsreader are:

Must Have Other Features
  • I – Interface complexity 1-5 (1=easy, 5=technogeek)
  • SSL – SSL Encryption Support
  • ST – Self Throttle Bandwidth to allow other Internet activity
  • HD – Header Download
  • HC – Header Compression
  • F – Filter header and poster terms to block spam and trolls
  • Q – Mark headers for later retrieval (Queuing)
  • NZB – NZB import
  • D – Place downloaded files in directories by newsgroup
  • RQ – Re-order items in queue to expedite retrieval of specific articles
  • P – Pause download
  • AFC – Auto fix (PAR) and combine RAR and 001 files internally
  • V – Built in viewers for text and image files
  • IS – Internal header Search
  • ES – Integrated external header search (Indexing service – extra fee)
  • BP – Binary Posting
  • MS – Pull articles from multiple servers
  • NZB-Only – No header support, import NZB files only

Before we get to the list of Usenet Newsgroup Readers, we also want to point out that there are a few usenet providers that have written web-based readers. They have pretty much the same features as a PC-based newsreader, except they run on a server and there is a browser based interface. You typically pay a bit more for these services, but they save you the hassle of installing software on your PC and they usually make selecting articles faster since you don’t have to download headers.

Newsreader Listing

Name Price / Trial Defining Features Pros Cons Comments
Newsbin Pro $20 / 10 day V6.3 (2012) Nearly every feature under the sun, developers add new features regularly i4, SSL, ST, HD, HC, Q, RQ, F, NZB, D, ACF, V, IS, ES, BP, MS Flexibility can make User Interface confusing. Internal text message viewer weak Anchordudes Top PickThis is the Usenet Reader software we currently use for our own posting and reading. We really like the new video preview feature (6.3). Optional external indexing service ($5 / mo) makes searching extremely easy.
PowerPost A&APowerPost GB Free A&A v1.1B ( 2004)GB12.2.7 (2007) Dedicated binary upload tool – recognized as the best for large uploads. I3, BP Version A&A 1.1b had a few bugs, version GB12 fixes many Anchordudes Top PickConsidered THE tool for uploading large attachments with superb naming and queuing features. A&A version is most widespread but GB12.2.7 version added many fixes
sabnzb Free v 0.6.0 Windows / Linux / OSX based NZB downloader with a nifty web interface I2, SSL, MS, ST, RQ, NZB, D Runs as a service – self installer usually works but if fails is hard to configure by hand Anchordudes Top PickIf successfully installed, it’s a very easy to use NZB download program – the use of an HTML web interface is pretty cool. We don’t like all the advertising built into it, but for ease of use, it’s a winner. It’s open source, and there is a big community of add-on features for it too.
Easynews $10 mo / 14 day N/A Online newsreader – no software required I1, SSL, F, Q, RQ, AFC, V, ES Limited access to text articles Anchordudes Top PickEasynews is a combined online newsreader and usenet newsgroup provider. You use a web interface to search for attachments with thumbnail image previews including motion previews of video. It also automatically combines RAR multi-parts so you can tag a complete article group as one single file. Once tagged, it zips the file to compress it and lets you decide on the download order to your PC. By far the easiest way to use Usenet!
NewsLeecher $20 / 14 day V4.0 (2010) Nearly every feature under the sun, competes directly with Newsbin Pro i3, SSL, SL, HD, HC, Q, RQ, F, NZB, D, ACF, IS, ES, MS Image and text viewers are external. Anchordudes Top PickIf we didn’t already feel comfortable with Newsbin Pro, we might have settled on NewsLeecher. It might even be the better tool for someone just starting with Usenet. Their monthly pricing option also makes it easy to give the software and its built-in indexer a try without having to pay the full license cost.
NewsRover $30 / 30 day V16.2 (2011) Downloads headers as background process to support a good internal global search I2, SSL, HD, Q, F, NZB, ACF, V, P, AFC, IS, MS, HC No throttling or external index service Although the interface feels a bit dated, Newsrover has pretty much all the features most new readers should have.
HogWasher $49 / 60 Day 4.3 (2006) Mac OS X Newsreader I1, HD, Q, F, F, V, BP No SSL, limited support for new Usenet features and large groups No new releases since 2006, but still considered the best Usenet Newsreader for Mac by most users
Agent $29 / 30 day 6.0 (2009) One of the first widespread GUI newsreaders. Handles threaded conversations very well. I2, SSL, HD, ST, Q, F, NZB, D, V, BP, MS, HC No AFC The first newsreader we ever used, it has kept up with the times. Be careful not to change user interface settings – they can be hard to get back.
Grabit Free v1.7b (2009) A simple to use free usenet newsreader program. I2, SSL, HD, D F, NZB, P,ACF, IS, ES, MS No V, BP, ST A very easy to use program that fits basic needs of most users (no picture viewer though). The price is right. Shemes also offers an optional NZB search service to make searching headers easier.
BinTube $59 / 14 day v3.6 (2011) An NZB-based downloader that lets you listen and watch audio and video as it is downloaded I2, SSL, ST, HD, HC, NZB, D, ACF, V No Headers! NZB reader only – requires external header search tools / site. No Posting A cool NZB-based reader. No internal header lookup – you MUST use an external NZB index site, or BinTube’s own external index service
Unison $29 V2.1.4 ( ????) Mac OS X Newsreader, easy to use interface I1, HD, NZB, F, ACF, V, BP Not a power user tool by any means We weren’t able to run Unison ourselves, but many Mac users lament its very simplistic filtering and thread display
MT-Newswatcher Donation Ware v3.5.2 (2006) Simple Mac-based newsreader, no longer updated I3, SSL, F Slim feature set, may not work on OS X 10.6 and up In its time it was a good start, but the developer obviously moved on to other things