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What are RSS feeds?

RSS feeds allow you to receive updates of content from websites. As new content is published the RSS feed will detect the change and pull the content to your local device, browser or email client. This avoids the need to visit websites to check for updated content.

RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication'. The feeds are just web pages, designed to be read by computers rather than people.


Websites that support RSS usually show the RSS icon

rss In order to get an RSS feed from a website that displays this icon, you will need what's called an 'RSS Reader'.


What's an RSS Reader?

Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.

Once you have chosen a news reader, all you have to do is to decide what content you want it to receive.

If you click on the RSS button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader.

Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link.

Most modern browsers, including Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer and Safari, automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a website, and display the orange RSS icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier.

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How do I get started?

Pick an RSS reader. Then go to a site you want to follow (which supports RSS) and click on the orange RSS icon (shown above). You'll then see a load of code (called XML). Don't be put off - this is normal! Depending on the RSS reader you have, there are various ways to add the feed, such as by dragging the URL of the RSS feed into your reader, or copying and pasting it. For more details, follow the instructions on the reader's website.