April 10, 2006

How to use RSS feeds

Tired of visiting your favorite websites for new articles? Don’t sweat, instead, let them come to you. Here’s how in just two steps:

  1. Launch an RSS reader app. To add a new subscription, type the website URL and press enter.1
  2. Upon launch, and at default (or user-set) time intervals, the app looks for, and downloads the latest from all subscribed sites for your reading pleasure.

RSS reader apps (updated: 2015)

Here are some of the apps that I have used, and know can handle most RSS feed formats: Reeder (Mac, iOS), NetNewsWire (Mac, iOS), FeedDemon (Win), FeedReader (Win), Liferea (Linux). There are many more, please search in app stores from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Synaptic package manager and Ubuntu software center.

RSS sync services (updated: 2015)

If you’d also like to read across multiple devices, while ensuring continuity between read and unread articles, then in addition to the above you may need a subscription service — to sync your reading status across devices you own. Here are some: Feedbin, Feed Wrangler, and NewsBlur. Apps like Reeder offer more sync services than others. Find one that suits you best.

What is RSS, and how does it work?

RSS is an acronym for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication indicating both intent as well as its ease of use. All RSS-enabled sites contain a summary of latest available articles in a (machine readable) file. An RSS reader app checks this file periodically for new summaries. When found, the app then downloads the content and displays in its reading pane. Due to the generosity of publishers, these summaries often contain entire articles. The number of summaries, made available in RSS feed, is usually set by its publisher.

Advantages of reading via an RSS feed

  1. Syndication automates manual site load and read cycle.
  2. Fast and easy way of consuming content without annoying web elements, viz., blocking advertisements, pop-ups, scripts, styling, or trackers.
  3. Benefits readers on limited or capped internet bandwidths.
  4. Content is available for offline reading.
  5. Manage, import, export entire reading list easily.

Despite these advantages, it is possible some may find it difficult and monotonous to identify with, when devoid of channel specific presentation one is conditioned to; and that’s OK. But for those that are mainly interested in reading content without distractions, RSS is a fast and easy way to read news articles, weblog posts, and updates from their favorite sites regularly. Like plumbing, RSS is ubiquitous, aside from being a web standard. Most modern web and app services use RSS underpinnings in their functionality to bring streaming content to your device. Use it to browse less, read more.


  1. In most cases, this is enough, but if this did not work, then look for a (button, icon, or a text) link that indicates it’s an RSS (RSS, Atom, RDF, XML) feed. Copy that link and try again.