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What is an RSS Newsreader?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 18 December 2014
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A Really Simple Syndication (RSS) newsreader is a small application for subscribing to website RSS feeds for real-time updates of blogs, newsletters, and Web news. The RSS newsreader is also referred to as an aggregator.

If your pleasure is getting instant Web updates from your favorite online sources, an RSS newsreader will keep you informed in less time than it takes to flip open your phone or check your email. Many websites now offer RSS as a grassroots form of syndication. These websites feature an RSS button, which can be one of several designs. Once a user has an RSS newsreader installed, all he or she has to do is click on the RSS button to subscribe to the feed from that website. The RSS newsreader does the rest.

RSS newsreaders vary in ease of use and functionality. Some newsreaders incorporate email, podcast features, and even User Network (USENET) news. An RSS newsreader can also import RSS feeds from Outline Processing Markup Language (OPML) files or other RSS newsreaders. Still others include blog posting and instant messaging (IM).

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While there are many RSS newsreaders, the fast-growing popularity of RSS will likely generate a continuing onslaught of applications into the future. In some cases, an RSS newsreader is no more than a browser plugin, which adds toolbar-functionality to the browser without creating a separate program. Mobile RSS newsreaders work with cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) that feature Internet access. Many of these programs are freely available online.

If looking for an RSS newsreader for the Windows operating system, some popular programs are FeedDemon, Omea Reader, Awasu Personal Edition, Google Reader, and SharpReader. For those using Macintosh, Shrook Mac RSS Newsreader, Pulp Fiction Mac, NetNewsWire Mac, and Google Reader Mac are among the pool of top RSS newsreaders. If you desire a mobile RSS newsreader for your cell phone or PDA, you might consider HeadLine Mobile RSS NewsReader or FreeNews.

It's always a good idea to read user reviews that cover the latest applications, then try out a few newsreaders for yourself. Shareware programs typically have a 30-day free trial, and many RSS newsreaders are freeware. Among the offerings you will no doubt discover one with the right organizational ability, ease of use, required functionality, and personally pleasing interface.

Optionally, websites such as Bloglines allow registered users to set up a personalized, non-public webpage that hosts their RSS feeds. Instead of installing an RSS newsreader, the user need only log into his or her Bloglines webpage to see updated links and headlines of subscribed feeds. From here, the user can click on a headline to go to the actual website and read the updated material in full. Using an account of this sort, the user might also choose to maintain an optional public blog page with built-in RSS capability. If so, the blog becomes part of the server’s searchable database, theoretically helping to promote it.

Whether Web-based or application-based, an RSS newsreader will keep you abreast of the information you need and want as it becomes available. An RSS newsreader is also a great tool for corporate use in an Intranet environment, where field reps or sales staff, for example, can be notified of pertinent information as it breaks. Wherever time is money, this simple application can be a valuable asset.

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Discuss this Article

Soulfox
Post 2

@Markerrag -- There are some great RSS feed readers built into Internet browsers, but there is still room for plugins and even external readers. Why? Power users might want more advanced management and categorization tools than what browsers offer and that's where other solutions come into play.

I agree that browser based readers might be the best choice for a lot of people, but some people will need other solutions. Thank goodness those are out there.

The problem with those third party readers, though, is that you will probably have to do a lot of research and experiment to find the right program. Then again, that may be part of the fun.

Markerrag
Post 1

If you want to save some time and trouble, grab an Internet browser with a built in RSS feed reader. You can find some great ones out there and you get the advantages of having something that is naturally integrated into a browser and having an integral component that won't break like a plugin might and cause generally weird behavior.

Considering how many browsers handle RSS feeds so well, I am not sure why anyone wouldn't choose an RSS equipped reader over a plugin.

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