There are many websites whose content changes on a very frequent basis. Sites that are related to the news, blogs and a range of other types of sites that provide up-to-the minute updates fall into this category. Although it is possible to manually visit one site after another to read the latest news and posts, this can be time-consuming. RSS feeds can be used to alert you to the fact that a particular site has been updated. Only the headline and the introduction to the article are displayed so it is easy to determine which you are interested in, wasting less time browsing through content you are not going to read. Vista’s Internet Explorer 7 supports RSS feeds and handles them in a very similar way to bookmarked sites. Here’s how to subscribe to RSS feeds as well as how to put your feeds to good use.
It is easy to tell when a website offers an RSS feed. It is likely that the page itself will advertise the fact somewhere, but when Internet Explorer detects the presence of a feed, the RSS button in the toolbar (the one next to the Home Page button) will change from grey to orange. Some websites feature more than one RSS feed and a complete list of what is available can be viewed by clicking the small black arrow to the right of the button. By clicking either the orange RSS button itself or one of the entries that appear in the dropdown menu, it is possible to view more details about the RSS feeds that have been found.
Once a feed is selected, its contents will be displayed. Scroll down the page and a series of articles will be listed. The article title, a snippet of text from the main articles and associated images will appear. To read the full article, click its title or the green arrow that appears to the right. The panel to the upper right of the pages allows article summaries to be filtered. Click on a link in the ‘Sort by’ section to group together articles by the date they were published, their author or title. Alternatively, click a link in the ‘Filter by category’ to view only articles that have been posted to a particular category.
Rather than manually viewing RSS feeds using the method in the previous step, Internet Explorer makes it possible to subscribe to a feed so articles will be automatically downloaded without the need to visit the website in question. At the top of the page, click the ‘Subscribe to this feed’ link and enter a name. By default, any RSS feed that is subscribed to will be listed in the Feeds sidebar. When working with a large number of feeds, it is a good idea to organise them into categories, and you can do this by clicking the ‘New folder’ button and entering a name. Ensure the right folder is selected on the ‘Create in’ dropdown menu and click Subscribe.
To quickly access a feed that has been subscribed to, click the Favorites Center button in the toolbar (the button featuring a yellow star). By clicking the Feeds button at the top of the panel, subscribed feeds will be shown. To keep the panel visible at all times, click the ‘Pin the Favorites Center’ button in the upper right-hand corner. Clicking a link in the Feeds section will display the latest articles from the associated RSS feed. While hovering the mouse cursor over a link in this section, two arrows will appear to the right of the link — click this to refresh the feed and display themost recent content.
Internet Explorer will automatically check subscribed RSS feeds for updates on a daily basis. To change the update frequency of feed, click the Tools button in the toolbar and select Internet Options. Move to the Content tab and click the Settings button in the Feeds section at the bottom of the dialogue box. From the dropdown menu, choose how often Internet Explorer should check for updates and click OK followed by OK. Each feed can be updated using different schedules. When viewing a feed, click the ‘View feed properties’ link to the right of the page, select the ‘Use custom schedule’ option and make a new selection.
Vista’s Sidebar can display RSS feeds, so they are visible without the need to open a browser. Click the Start button and then All Programs, then select Windows Sidebar from the Accessories group. If the RSS Feeds Gadget is not visible, right-click an empty section of the Sidebar and select Add Gadgets before double-clicking Feed Headlines. Right-click the Gadget in the Sidebar and select Options. All the feeds that have been added to Internet Explorer will be shown, but from the first dropdown menu you can opt to display a single feed — extra Feed Headlines gadgets can also be added. Use the second dropdown menu to choose howmany headlines should be shown and click OK.