What Is RSS, and How Can It Make Your Life Easier?

Posted by Justin Unton

November 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, sometimes called Really Simple Syndication. If that doesn’t do anything for you, here’s a quick explanation: RSS is a feed service that websites use to deliver frequently updated content to you in a simple way.

Imagine going to just one webpage to see all of the updates for all of your frequently visited sites. It would be like a newspaper designed specifically for you. Well, that’s exactly what RSS readers do. Thanks to RSS, you don’t need to waste time going from site to site in order to check for new information. You simply go to your RSS reader and see all of the updates at once.

Many of the websites and blogs you visit have a little RSS logo or a Subscribe with Reader button, which you can click to receive updates.

If your browser doesn’t have RSS functionality built into it, you’ll need to copy the RSS feed link and paste it into your reader’s feed subscription list. To find the RSS feed link, roll your mouse over the Subscribe link and note the address displayed at the bottom of your browser window. Once you have that, you can subscribe to the website’s feed and never miss a post!

Two Easy RSS Readers

Google Reader: Available to anyone with a Google account, Google Reader is my top suggestion for those looking to get started with RSS readers and feeds. Just visit www.google.com/reader to sign in; the tutorials should give you a good sense of how it works.

Google Reader lets you easily add feeds and categorize them in folders, giving you quick access to the information you’re looking for. You can also star items so that they’re easy to find. (It’s like saving your favorite Web articles forever.) From within every article, you can e-mail and share it using your preferred social media service. It’s a quick way to Tweet your favorite articles to your followers.

Microsoft Outlook: To subscribe to an RSS feed in Outlook, go to File > Account Settings > RSS Feeds and click New. (You may have some default feeds there already.) Once you add a new feed, you can read the page updates just like an e-mail. It’s a little more complicated than Google Reader, but it’s easy to use once it’s set up.

Topics: Technology

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