RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Using RSS feeds properly, a user is able to simply scan through a list of all the content that is new or updated at his/her favorite websites without having to visit them individually. This is great when a site keeps regular items like news feeds and software updates flowing in. This guide is a newbie's guide to using the RSS feeds on this site. Of course, you can use the information here to subscribe to feeds on any site that offers them.
Introduction & Requirements
In this guide I show how to subscribe to RSS feeds and use them both with the firefox browser, which is the easiest approach, and with Google's free "Google Reader" web-based tool that makes it even better. In future I might cover some downloadable tools and other browsers. If you are an Internet Explorer 7 user, RSS feed support is built-in to the browser, but I would recommend you use Google Reader, it is a web-based, Gmail-style interface so you don't need to download it.
Mozilla Firefox - I recommend you download this browser as it will make your web experience much better. (If you haven't used it before, make sure to select the latest "stable" release for download).
Ok, first I will explain what RSS feeds are and explain exactly why they are so interesting and useful to heavy and casual Internet users alike.
RSS feeds are used as a way to publish frequently updated content like news, software updates, podcasts, bittorrent downloads, latest forums posts, special offers, tv listings, ebay etc. Pretty much anything within reason can have its own RSS feed. If you are a news junkie, and you have 20 sites you frequently visit, I'd bet those sites all have RSS feeds which would give you the ability to easily check updates on all 20 sites from one source.
An RSS reader is like a middle man between you and a website. When you subscribe, it downloads usually the last 10-30 items and displays them for you. Over the course of time, it will frequently check back at the RSS feed and if anything is new since the last listings, it will display them for you to read. It speeds up your Internet experience and makes you open to a much wider variety of content. Simply put, if you already aren't using RSS feeds, then you should start right away.
Identifying and subscribing to available feeds
It is much easier now with the latest browser software to identify if a site has an RSS feed. Some sites links directly to services like Google's Reader service to automatically subscribe your account with that site to the feeds. Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla Firefox have built in support for RSS feeds. First we will look at adding feeds to Internet Explorer, if you use Firefox, then click here to go straight to Firefox instructions.
Internet Explorer 7
If a website has a feed available and properly indicates so in the source code, then its very easy to identify it with Internet Explorer 7. Beside the Home button on Internet Explorer 7 (the house icon), you will see the RSS logo. If it lights up and is clickable, then there are feeds available from the website.
Look at the picture that accompanies this text. On the AfterDawn homepage, there is only one feed that is reportedly available (although AfterDawn has feeds covering several sections). Clicking this feed gets Internet Explorer 7 to load up the latest News feeds from AfterDawn.com...
Subscribe to Feeds
As you can see it shows the last 10 items from AfterDawn. To subscribe to the feed using Internet Explorer 7, you have to click the Subscribe button, which is . Click Subscribe to this feed, and you will get a IE information box like the one shown with this text.
Give your feeds a name (you can edit this later) and choose a folder (Feeds is the default and it makes sense to keep it that way. Click the Subscribe button now and you have subscribed. With Internet Explorer it is easy to check up on your feeds.
Use and Manage Feeds
To check out your RSS feeds, click the Favorites button, which is . Click the Feeds button next and you can see the list of your subscriptions. You can literally add 100s of subscriptions here if you want. Clicking any will load the feed in Internet Explorer. You will find that RSS information loads way faster than the average website, saving you a lot of time.
You can right click any feed for options, such as to delete a feed. Remember, the RSS button in Internet Explorer 7 will not always light up, you will have to look around some websites to find an RSS logo, or a text link. Either way, it is well worth the effort but I do recommend using a tool that is made for getting RSS/ATOM feeds such as Google Reader, it will make your RSS experience so much better.
Mozilla Firefox has excellent support built in for RSS feeds. If a website has a feed available and properly indicates so in the source code, then its very easy to identify it with Mozilla Firefox. The RSS logo is displayed in the address bar in Mozilla Firefox if the browser picks up an available feed.
Clicking on this logo will automatically take you to the RSS feed if there is only one on offer from the site, otherwise it will give you an option to choose.
Subscribe to Feeds
When the feed loads, you will see the content available from the feed displayed in the browser. Over this content, is where you can subscribe to the feed. If you want to subscribe just with the browser, then leave the selection on Live Bookmarks and click Subscribe. You will now have the option to choose a folder, usually Bookmarks is used.
View and manage Feeds
Now to easily get content from the feeds, go to the Bookmarks menu and you will find your feed there. Any that are read will show an icon of a page, unread will have a logo of the site usually. There is also a great feature in firefox to "Open All In Tabs" which will open the 10 latest pages of content in 10 separate tabs in the browser so you can read them all.
To delete a feed, simply right click on it and click Delete.
With Firefox, when you view an RSS feed, you are given an option to simply send the feed to your bookmarks or do several other things. You can add the feed to Bloglines, My Yahoo or Google Reader for example or to another application installed on your computer. I recommend trying out Google Reader, it really is a great tool to organize your RSS feeds.
Google Reader is a free web-based tool to view and organize all of your RSS feeds. If you have a GMail account, you can actually just go straight to the Google Reader site and sign in to use the tool, otherwise, there is a link there to create a new Google account.
Google Reader Interface
As you can see, the Google Reader interface looks a lot like GMail. It allows you to organize your feeds very nicely and is a great free tool offered by Google. If you have signed up for a Google account, the easiest way to add a feed is through Firefox. Login to your account and then open AfterDawn.com in another tab (Hit CTRL + T to open a new tab under firefox)
Add a feed to Google Reader with Firefox
When AfterDawn.com loads in Firefox, click the RSS logo in the address bar.
Now when you are given the option to choose where to subscribe to the feed, select Google Reader from the list. Now click the "Subscribe Now" button. The next page you will see will be a Google page giving you a choice to either add the feeds to Google Reader, or your Google Homepage, choose Reader. Google reader will now reload with your new feed.
Add a feed manually
To add a feed to Google Reader manually, you must first get the web address of the XML file. This is done by loading the feeds in your web browser and copying the link from the address bar. For example, AfterDawn's News RSS link is http://feeds.afterdawn.com/afterdawn so by clicking subscribe you can manually add that link.
If you don't have a direct link to a site's feeds, entering just the url like "http://www.afterdawn.com" will let Google Reader search for feeds associated with the site, which it will then add.
Some feeds to subscribe to
AfterDawn has several feeds that you can subscribe to to keep up to date.
I hope this guide will help you to better organize the web for yourself. Enjoy.
v1.0 -- First version published by Delav1.1 -- RSS feed URL updated
Written by: James Delahunty