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What is RSS?

rss logoRSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts.

There is some debate as to what RSS stands for, but most people plump for 'Really Simple Syndication'. In essence, the feeds themselves are just web pages, designed to be read by computers rather than people. RSS feeds are also sometimes called news feeds.

News feeds allow you to see when websites have added new content. You can get the latest headlines and video in one place, as soon as its published, without having to visit the websites you have taken the feed from.
How do I start using feeds?

In general, the first thing you need is something called a news reader. This is a piece of software that checks the feeds and lets you read any new articles that have been added. There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a browser, and some of which are downloadable applications.

Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.

rss This is the symbol used to indicate an RSS feed.

If you click on an RSS button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader. Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link.

Some browsers, including Internet Explorer 7, Firefox, Opera and Safari, automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check their websites.


Where Can I get a News Reader?

Browser-based News Readers

Google Reader
Bloglines
FeedZilla
NewsGator
Microsoft Live
My Yahoo!
Safari - built-in RSS, available for Windows (and faster than IE7)
Mozilla Firefox
Other News Readers


Downloadable Applications

Windows

Newz Crawler
FeedDemon
Awasu


Mac OS X
Newsfire
NetNewsWire


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