Using RSS Feeds

I am a huge proponent of RSS feeds, but I often come across people who don’t understand their benefits or ease of use. I love how simply you can create your own customized “newspaper” delivered to you in practically the same manner as your email with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Identifying a Feed

Sites that frequently update their content often have a feed available. There are several ways to determine if a site has a feed. The typical RSS icon is orange with a dot and two curved lines as shown:
Typical RSS Feed Icon
This little icon can often be found within the content of a site, often in the header or sidebar.

A more seasoned RSS feed user will know to find the subscribe link in the address bar of the web browser. Below is an example in Firefox:
RSS feed in Firefox

A close up of the address bar in Safari (the icon is a bit different):
RSS feed in Safari

The Reader

Before diving into the world of feeds, you will need to have a feed reader of some kind. There are readers of all forms and styles, from desktop applications to fully online solutions. Since I make use of Google’s email system, I chose to continue with their services and use Google Reader.

If you have a Google account, you can easily access Google Reader here: google.com/reader

Other great RSS reader options are discussed over on Lifehacker >>

Now What?

Now that you know how to identify a feed, and have a feed reader simply click on the link for the site you wish to subscribe. You will be directed to a page where you can then select your feed reader.

Screen shot of the subscribe page

You will now find content is pulled into your reader, and you no longer have to visit a site over and over to get the latest posts and information.

Test out your new-found skill right now, by subscribing to my site now.

Suggested Feeds

Keep up with your friends
Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, and other social sites have RSS feeds, subscribe to all your pals for a universal site to check

Back up your info
You can keep track of your friends, so just as easily you can subscribe to your own social media streams to back up your data

Get your local weather updates
Just follow the instructions and get customized weather delivered to you >>

Search for a job
You will have to find job sites specific to your needs, but instead of scouring the job boards, it saves so much time and energy when it comes to you

Get the latest info in your industry or hobbies
Just with the job sites, you will need to find those tailored your interests but it will keep you as the one in the know

Track your packages
Sign up for TrackThis and get updates on package locations: usetrackthis.com

I’ve found RSS feeds to be an invaluable tool for any type of information that frequently changes. So just explore your favorite sites and you may find you don’t have to visit them as often as you have been.

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