Browsing the web can be fun and informative. If you have several favorite haunts, you can waste a bit of time visiting frequently only to find no new content. Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an easy way for you to receive new content, without having to visit a site. It's been around for a long time. Originally, it required specialized software. Now, Outlook (and Internet Explorer 7 and up) can handle it.
Most sites support RSS so receiving newly published content is as easy as linking up. Simply click the RSS link (circled below). You'll receive the feed, which contains headlines and short summaries of new content and a link to access the site. Sometimes the feed contains complete stories and articles.
To use Outlook to download a site's feed, enter the feed URL:
- Click the File tab and then click Account Settings. In Outlook 2007, choose Account Settings from the Tools menu.
- Click the RSS Feeds tab.
- Click New.
- Enter the site's feed URL. Now, this is where thing's get a bit iffy—the site's actual URL won't work. (More on this later).
- Click Add. If the link works, Outlook will display a few settings. The defaults are adequate, but you can use these settings to customize your RSS experience. For instance, below, I checked the Download The Full Article As An .HTML Attachment option. This is a helpful option when you think you might want to keep or share the information. If Outlook displays an error message, you aren't using a valid feed URL.
- Click OK and then Close.
I mentioned that you can't use the site's ordinary URL, but there's an easy way to get the feed URL. Simply right-click the site's RSS feed icon and choose Copy Link Address. Then, press [Ctrl]+V in step 4 to copy the feed URL.
If, for some reason, you can't grab the feed URL from the actual site, there's still hope. You can visit Syndic8, enter the URL, and if the site's registered, get the feed URL.
As you visit your favorite sites, look for the RSS feed icon (link) and add the site to Outlook. Having all that information delivered to you, as it's published is convenient and efficient!
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.