RSS Quickstart Guide

Get a grip on RSS in three easy steps!

RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. It is what it claims to be: a quick and easy way to create and use "syndicated content" such as news headlines and announcements. Some websites (like this one) use RSS to deliver articles and article previews to readers who are simply too busy to browse to our site and dig up the content they are interested in. Other sites use RSS to alert customers of new products or upcoming events.

Step 1: Get a Reader!

The easiest way to experience RSS is through an RSS "newsreader" or "aggregator" for your desktop computer. This will fetch and organize recent content and provide simple ways to read it. Below is a list of free and recommended RSS clients for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux platforms. Choose and install the one that sounds like the best fit for you, and proceed to the next step.

BlogExpress for Windows 98 or later.
Newbies don't need to look any further than this. Providing a familiar, usable interface and high-usability; BlogExpress stands out as an invaluable tool for those getting started with RSS.

SharpReader for Windows 98 or later.
SharpReader is a clean and simple RSS reader for Windows. While it doesn't provide the myriad of features found in bigger, more expensive clients; it does the job and does it well.

FeedReader for Windows 98 or later.
Power-hungry techies will find this open source aggregator more to their liking. With more advanced features and options, it will keep geeks satisfied while giving more growth-room for newbies.

NetNewsWire Lite for Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) or later.
While not as powerful as its big brother, this is the cleanest and most elegant RSS reader for the Mac platform. A strong sense of usability and sophistication are sure to satisfy the most devoted Mac users.

Lifera for Linux with Gnome 2.
While not for the beginners, Lifera is so far the best (if not only) RSS reader on Linux with a usable interface and sophisticated aggregation features. Lifera is sure to please the Linux community with its simple, clean, and effective interface and features.

BlogLines for anyone with a web browser.
BlogLines is perfect for anyone who can't install one of the above clients or needs feeds on the go. A simple, clean web interface lets you manage and read feeds from any web-capable device. The perfect solution for computer-hoppers or those unable to install an aggregator for whatever reasons.

Step 2: Grab the feeds!

On the sidebar of this site you will see a list of links to our RSS feeds. There are feeds for all the articles on this site as well as more specific feeds for particular topics. Choose the one you'd like to use and copy and paste the link into the appropriate section of your RSS reader. On most browsers you can right-click the link and select "copy shortcut" or "copy target address" or something similar. And again, some RSS feeds will "auto discover" the RSS feeds on sites you browse, so no cutting and pasting is necessary! Please consult the documentation for your RSS reader for more information.

Step 3: View the content!

The feeds on this site contain a wealth of data and metadata that you're sure to find useful. All the RSS 1.0 feeds contain full article text as well as comments and related content on other sites. Individual RSS readers present this information differently and you can usually customize the intimate details as you please.

That's about it!

You don't have to come to our site to read articles that don't interest you, and you can preview all you favorite content from the same place! You can also add RSS feeds from your favorite blogs, sites, and stores just as easily as you added our feeds.

And don't think the feed readers listed above are all you have to choose from. See our Resources section for links to various feed readers and aggregators for a variety of platforms and uses.

If you want to get real geeky, there are many other things you can do with RSS feeds above and beyond simple feed reading in a desktop client. You can publish our feeds directly on your site, or you can write software that crawls our feeds and alerts you of particular topics of interest. Check out the Resources section for more information, as well as articles on how to build your own RSS feeds and aggregate others!

But it doesn't help me!

Did you miss something? Did we miss something? Let us know if this article doesn't help you get started with RSS, so that we can improve it so that it does.