Think about it. How much time do you spend each day simply browsing from one web site to another? Even if you keep good bookmarks, the process is the same. Click, scan a web page, maybe click to a story of interest, click another bookmark to another web page, scan the web page, maybe click to another store. Then repeat. See a problem? RSS solves the problem.
What’s Wrong With RSS?
If anything at all, certainly not much. RSS has been around awhile. Think of it as a way for a web site, almost every website with news and opinion, to send you their headlines and a summary of each article.
How do you get those headlines and summaries? An RSS reader. If you’re using Safari as your browser, an RSS reader is built-in, but it’s rudimentary at best. Real men use a standalone RSS reader like the free Vienna or commercial NewsRack (there are others; these are among my favorites).
Standalone RSS readers work in a similar manner. Web sites you subscribe to show up in the left sidebar. Click on one, and all their recent headlines show up in the right top window. click on a headline, and the details of the article are displayed below.
Without getting into the nitty gritty details, that’s it. RSS apps make it easy to scan through dozens of web sites in minutes. No more bookmarks to manage. No more click and scan page after page. The RSS reader brings the headlines, summary, and details right to your Mac.
Why Pay For RSS?
Vienna is free and has plenty of features. NewsRack costs a few bucks but has a few more very useful features. The interface is tabbed so it’s easier to view more pages.
You can sync NewsRack with Google Reader (Google’s version of online RSS). Subscribing to an RSS feed from a site is a simple drag and drop process. NewsRack also gives thumbnail previews of each site.
The amount of time saved by using an RSS reader is remarkable. You can organize only those sites you find valuable, useful, worthwhile. The reader grabs the headline, summary, and other information automatically, and on a schedule that you set.
Think of Safari’s RSS reader as a beginner app. Vienna is intermediate. NewsRack is more for power users (completely navigate feed subscriptions via the keyboard).
If you browse the web on your Mac and it’s not organized, try an RSS reader and begin collecting subscriptions. Most Mac users can scan RSS headlines far faster than browsing web sites one by one.