Skip to main content

What is an RSS feed?

With so much new content on the web added daily, it can be tough to keep up with what’s happening online. People try several different ways, including visiting specific websites every day, doing Google searches, or relying on social media to keep them informed. One solution that sometimes gets overlooked is an old-school one: The RSS feed.

What is an RSS feed? It’s a technology that has influenced many modern internet tools you’re familiar with, and its streamlined, algorithm-free format could make it your next great tool for reading what you want online.

Related Videos

What is RSS?

RSS stands for “straightforward syndication” or, depending on who you ask, “rich site summary.” At its heart, RSS refers to simple text files with necessary, updated information — news pieces, articles, that sort of thing. That stripped-down content gets plugged into a feed reader, an interface that quickly converts the RSS text files into a stream of the latest updates from around the web.

As internet content became more complex, so did RSS files, quickly adopting images, video, and more, but still in a stripped-down format for more effortless loading and compatibility across all feed readers. Readers usually automatically update to deliver the newest content right to your device. This approach allows internet users to create their online feeds filled with custom updates from the sites they regularly visit.

I thought RSS was old. Is it still used online?

Yes and no. RSS feeds are certainly still present (more on this later), but they aren’t as dominant as they once were. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others have become the go-to option for following sites, watching feeds, and learning about the latest content. Other online options (such as Google News) aggregate full links to the latest stories, with algorithms to pick out stories you may like.

Interest in RSS feeds has gone down over the past several years. Online brands already have to post to social media for their marketing goals, and they may not want to take the extra time to convert content into a bunch of RSS files. This added effort is why a new blog or website may only offer subscription content by following them on social media, but no RSS feed. Google doesn’t even like to support RSS feeds anymore, and Google Reader is a long-dead endeavor. However, RSS feeds still have their place.

How can RSS feeds make my life easier?


RSS feeds remain great for an in-depth look at a site’s new content — not just the stuff that gets pushed up on social media. If you are genuinely devoted to a site and want to see everything it has to offer, then an RSS feed is still the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything. While this doesn’t work well with all sites, even large ones like ours can compartmentalize the feeds, giving you better access to only the content you want. It’s an excellent alternative to social media if you want the news and articles without all the baggage that comes with having a Twitter or Facebook account.

Additionally, RSS feeds are often very easy to read at your leisure and will update even if you are not online — they are particularly useful for catching up on the news during your downtime. As such, RSS feeds have grown into a beneficial tool, thanks to the emergence of well-crafted mobile apps that act as feed readers.

What are the best feed readers?

There are many different kinds. However, some of the most popular include:


Feedreader is a simple, minimalistic reader that makes curation easy with basic categories and accessible tools. It has a fantastic preview option to see what an RSS feed looks like before you sign up, and it gives alternative options if you decide you don’t like that particular feed.


Feedly can be used for entertainment and professional purposes (for example, following competitors and keeping up on industry news). It has a simple interface with basic categories to collect individual RSS feeds and a home page filled with the latest news from everywhere. Feedly is currently one of the most popular feed readers online, although it was the victim of an attack in 2014.


Flipboard has won admiration for its beautiful design that looks particularly good on mobile devices. It’s an excellent choice if you want a more organic, e-zine-like way to peruse the latest news from your favorite sources.

The Old Reader

It might sound antiquated, but The Old Reader’s name is merely highlighting its simplicity. While it still enjoys some social elements, its core function is bringing you an easy to parse and organize news feed with support for tablets, desktops, and mobile devices.

The future of RSS

Flipboard Interest

One of RSS’s most convenient uses is to help you stay on top of your shopping list. If you’re looking to purchase a specific item from Craigslist, such as a refrigerator, you could enable an RSS feed to send you notifications when any new posts are pushed to that category. 

To accomplish this, first, navigate to the desired feed by using the search function and typing in a few search terms. Once you’ve browsed to your feed, scroll to the bottom of the page. Click the button in the bottom-right corner to become a subscriber.


There’s a future possibility of RSS feeds moving to other platforms disappearing from internet browsers. 

In fact, Mozilla publicized the end of native Firefox 64 RSS support in late 2018. It required a lot of maintenance, and no one used it. This idea could become a possibility for all internet browsers. 

Of course, RSS isn’t going away ultimately. Developers are creating extensions that will add RSS to your browser. They already have saved RSS for people on Firefox.

Editors' Recommendations

Microsoft’s new Edge browser to launch January 15. Here’s what you need to know
microsoft edge to launch january 15 windows 2019 aug 20

After a nearly six-month-long journey through beta testing, Microsoft is finally getting ready to launch its new Chromium-based Edge browser. Announced today, November 4, during the first day of the Microsoft Ignite conference, the browser will be set to launch on January 15 on Windows 7, 8, and 10, and MacOS.

Although this launch is still quite a while away, Microsoft is making a release candidate of the new browser (which is based on Google's open-source Chromium-engine) available for download. Unlike the current beta builds and insider channels, this release candidate version of the browser is close to what can be expected come January 15. It is also much more stable and bug-free but with the same new abilities that have been tested over the past few months.

Read more
Now we know what was killing Mac Pros running Avid: Google Chrome
A potentially deadly problem for your Mac -- but there is a fix
windows based high end mac pro equivilent costs even 9599 vs

Google’s Chrome updater has been sending Macs into an endless reboot loop, rendering them all but useless until the issue is fixed. Though the problem was at first thought to be caused by Avid’s Media Composer video-editing app running on older Mac Pro computers, further investigation has shown that not to be the case.

An investigation by the Mac enterprise and IT blog Mr. Macintosh has suggested that the latest version of Google Keystone (Google Chrome’s updater) comes with a bug that deletes a symlink at the /var path on the Mac it runs on. What this means in plain English is Google Keystone essentially deletes a key MacOS system file.

Read more
Video provides peek at what may — or may not — be Google’s Pixelbook successor
Google Pixelbook android apps

Google Atlas Chromebook test 1

Google has been working on a Pixelbook successor code-named Atlas for some time -- but it's possibile the device might not be made by Google after all. A leaked video showcases a purported version of the device, and it looks very different from anything the company currently offers under its branding.

Read more