Software

How to customize the Apple News app

Jack Wallen explains how to customize Apple's latest News app, and why it might become your go-to source of news on macOS.

If you've already upgraded to MacOs Mojave, chances are you found a few surprises waiting for you on the Dock or in the Launchpad. And if you happen to be a news junkie, one particular tool might feed your need for information. That tool is Apple News, and speaking as someone who constantly craves for news, this tool is tops.

In fact, the new app is so good, I'm hunting for its equal on the Linux platform. Unfortunately, I've yet to find anything even close (and RSS aggregators won't do). The Mojave app is very similar to any given news app you might find on either iOS or Android, only in desktop form. It presents news items to the reader by way of two primary sections (Today and Morning Digest) and then user-customizable channels. That, in and of itself, is no mean feat. But the presentation is slick and the customization impressive. News can also be searched as well as be enabled to find content based on other app usages (such as Siri and Safari), restrict stories to Today, and restrict stories with explicit content. But it's the channel customization I want to demonstrate.

SEE: Mobile app development policy (Tech Pro Research)

Once customized, you'll have exactly the news you want, by way of a glossy, single-point-of-entry app. Let's customize.

What you need

There is only one thing you need to use/customize News—macOS Mojave. If you're running a device with a macOS release that predates Mojave, you're out of luck.

Adding channels

The first thing to do is add channels to News. This is actually quite simple. Open the News app and scroll the left pane until you reach the bottom. Click on the Discover Channels & Topics button (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The News main window.

A new pop up will appear (Figure B). In that window, you can scroll through and check to enable the "channels" you want to follow.

Figure B

Figure B

The primary method of discovering Channels.

The above method will allow you to follow sources. However, News is much more than just sources. If you have a particular topic you want to follow, News makes that task even easier. In the search field (in the left navigation), type the topic you want to follow and hit the Enter key. When the topic appears, it will have a heart to the right of it (Figure C). Click on that heart and the topic will be added to News.

Figure C

Figure C

Adding a topic to News.

You can also scroll down (in the left channel), find Channels that focus on your topic, and select them to be followed in the same fashion. Once you've selected everything you want (related to your topic), click the small x in the search bar to clear the topic and return the left navigation to its default interface (where your new topics/channels will be waiting).

The caveats

There are a couple of caveats I found with News (that prevent it from being the perfect news app). The first is that some channels and topics don't present the full story. If you open certain news items, News will display the entire story. On the other hand, clicking on other items require your default web browser to open the story in question. For example, all of TechRepublic news items must open in a web browser, whereas CNET items can be read, in their entirety, from within News.

The next caveat is that there's no easy way to share a news item on social media. If you click the Share button (the square with the upward pointing arrow in the upper right corner), it allows you to share via Mail, Messages, AirDrop, Notes, Reminders, Add to Photos, Add to Aperture, and Add People. But nowhere will you find the ability to share via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or other social platforms. This could very well be by design on Apple's part, which is probably a move that should be applauded. Considering how most use News-type tools, they'll want the ability to share on their social networking platform of choice.

Outside of those two caveats, Apple News is a delight to use and customize. If you're a macOS user, and you're working with Mojave (and you happen to be a news junkie like myself), I highly recommend getting up to speed with this app. News doesn't take long to fully understand—or to become your default news aggregator.

Also see

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Image: Apple

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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