RSS: Really simple starter guide

Posted on by Mike Evans

Most of you will know what RSS means and you probably know more about it than I do. But if you are wondering, it means Really Simple Syndication. [1]

Most web sites, including this one, allow you to “subscribe” in order to automatically receive articles as they are posted. If you need to check many web sites a day, as I do, it is more convenient to have all new stories in one central mailbox. On this site, just press the RSS Feeds tab on the left of the page and follow the instructions. Once you have done this all Macfilos stories will go to your reader of choice.

First, though, have a quick peruse of this starter course for using Google Reader and RSS. Google Reader is what most of us use as an intermediary for collecting all stories from the sites we have chosen.

You can open Google Reader’s web page and read there, but I don’t know anyone who does. Most people choose applications which link to your Google account and automatically download new stuff. They are in a sense like Apple’s Mail which goes off and brings messages from all your various accounts into one location on your desktop. Examples of reader applications (or “aggregators”) are Reeder or Caffeinated for the Mac and Reeder for iPhone or iPad. Mr.Reader, my absolute favourite, is unfortunately for the iPad only.

I use Mr.Reader on the iPad and Reeder on both iPhone and Mac to trawl through the hundreds of stories coming in from dozens of web sites. Anything I want to read at leisure I send to Instapaper. But that’s not absolutely necessary if you are dealing with a small number of sites.

(PC World via

  1. Purists will say it means RDF Site Summary, which was the original basis, but we all now prefer the really simple bit.  ↩

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