RSS. Really simple syndication. It’s a relatively old technology that’s gone mainstream. News headlines and a summary delivered to your Mac. It’s even built in to the Mac’s Safari browser.
There’s also a host of Mac RSS applications from free to not-so-free. In this age of instant news updates and direct notification, what do you use to gather web news?
What? You haven’t heard of or use RSS? That’s such a quaint, early 2004 attitude. We’re in the 21st century already. 2006 is only a few Desperate Housewives episodes away. New Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica episodes will be here before you know it.
One way to keep up on all that’s going on everywhere is RSS. Tera turned us all on to RSS waaaaay last year.
Her definition: “For folks new to RSS, it means something like (there are arguments) “Really Simple Syndication.” Basically, it’s a way for a web site to list their headlines and a summary of each article. An RSS “reader” then pulls the headlines and summary to your Mac and you can scan through and select which item you want to read.”
It’s that simple and built in to Safari and available in the new version of Firefox.
However, the truly great way to get RSS headlines and summaries is with a dedicated RSS reader and the Mac has plenty. More than plenty.
Tera’s favorite was the popular NewsFire which continues to add features to justify the $18.99 price tag.
My favorite was an early adopter, the free NetNewsWire Lite. Though the feature set is less than NewsFire, setup and operation is actually a bit easier.
Since those two trailblazers, RSS readers have multipled more than phone calls on Jessica Simpson’s answering machine.
There’s even dedicated Dashboard Widgets that pull RSS feeds from specific web sites, like the popular Mac rumor site, AppleInsider.
There’s also a Widget for CNN headline news. The problem with dedicated RSS readers, specific to a single news outlet, is that you must click to one location to get news only from that location.
Mac360 may have been one of the first Mac oriented web sites to use RSS, in its various formats. There’s even an RSS link from most sites so the latest posts can be delivered right to the RSS reader of your choice.
The choice is growing rapidly. How many ways are there to receive RSS headlines and summaries?
At the free end, there’s NetNewsWire Lite, and BottomFeeder, which runs on multiple operating systems, including Mac, Windows, Linux and others.
Also free is the less popular, less mature Ensemble. Some RSS readers still need work.
$7 will get you FeedTicker which scrolls RSS feeds across your Mac’s screen. I’m passing because I have enough stuff on my screen already.
Also cross platform (Mac and Windows) is FireAnt which gets the award for cutest RSS reader logo.
Oldest among the news readers on Mac is the popular MacReporter. The interface is similar to iTunes, the feature set is extensive, and users love it.
The problem, of course, is that there are so many RSS news readers, how can you try them all?
Among my favorite new readers is NewsMac Pro from developers in the UK.
The feature set is lengthy, and they layout is simple to use; think of it as a layered approach to adding features, yet keeping the basics; reading news headlines and summaries.
If you like features, you’ll love NewsMac Pro. It plays Podcasts. It syncs headlines with your Palm device. It lets you search RSS headlines and supports all versions of Atom and RSS.
Already using an RSS reader but want to switch? NewsMac Pro imports your RSS links, and even comes with an extensive built-in directory of RSS feeds (very handy).
Not to be limited to a one trick pony RSS reader, NullRiver has a simple news ticker for your desktop, creatively titled as ‘NewsTicker.’ It works well and fits in with other products, such as MoviePod, and PSPWare for Mac and Windows.
If you’d rather not flip through a dozen windows on your Mac trying to find your RSS reader, you’ll probably like RSS Menu which resides in your Mac’s menu bar and is available all the time, regardless of which application you’re using at the time.
At the mid range in features and price is Strider with a good balance of Mac-like layout, features, ease-of-use, and value.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of RSS readers. There’s at least a dozen or two more, though many have not been updated in recent months (a good sign of wavering development efforts).
My favorites? NewsFire, NetNewsWire, and NewsMac Pro. In that order. Interestingly, I find myself using the RSS reader in Safari more and more. What’s your RSS news reader of choice?
Tera Jean Patricks
NewsFire for me. It’s tops, keeps getting updated, stable, dependable, imports and exports, and is loaded with features.
The only one close to NewsFire is NetNewsWire. Not the Lite version, though it’s very good to get started.
As queen of low end Mac applications I have to side with Safari’s built in RSS reader or NetNewsWire. Safari doesn’t do much but it’s a good way for Mac users to being collecting RSS links.
Jack D. Miller
I have both NetNewsWire and NewsFire and I like what I see in NewsMac Pro. But how many RSS readers does one need?