How to set up a RSS Reader

This morning I was at the coffee shop with my mom (again), and as we sat there drinking our drinks (me: green tea, she: soy-milk latte) the conversation rolled around to blogs, facebook, and social media in general. You see, my mom often mentions that she’d like to do more with the internet, but having so many projects on the go, time is not always available.

(Never mind that we spent our morning at a coffee shop, because tea with people you care about is, in my opinion, a valuable use of time. It offers connection, reflection, and stillness. Something everyone can use.  . . even my husband, Zsolt, though he 100% believes it’s ridiculous to pay for a cup of tea when we could brew and entire pot at home. But he’s a man, and that’s just man logic.)

So, anyhow, I suggested, once again, she learn the wonderful world of the RSS Reader.

Have you heard of a RSS Reader? Because for ages I had no clue what this was, but heard it mentioned occasionally  . . . some pro blogging site had been discussing those ‘share’ links at the bottom of posts, and mentioned that a really good blog will always have a ‘RSS Reader’ option.

(Unfortunately this blog doesn’t have that link. I’m no WordPress Wizard, and haven’t a clue how to add one. But thankfully wordpress works in RSS easily, all you need to do is add the website address.  And I guess it’s likely you didn’t understand that last sentence. But hey, if you keep reading this post, you will by the end! Exciting prospect, no?)

Okay – because I’m such a huge fan of online ideas, and online community, and learning through experience, and keeping up on local happenings, and having my interests targeted . . . I ‘heart’ my RSS Reader, and think you might as well. So here is a very short introduction. There are tons of options online for getting a reader, but I use Google Reader and it’s damn convenient, therefore that’s what I’ll be sharing.

Right. . .

RSS Reader: A page that groups your favourite blogs, and presents new posts collectively on one page. This basically means you don’t need to bookmark a blog or subscribe by email. (Unless you want to, ’cause that works better for some.) Just add your blog of choice to the reader, and all notification of updates will arrive to this page.

Pros: Eliminates email clutter. Cuts down on browsing time. Allows you to preview a post before deciding if it’s worth the read.

Cons: Well, you actually need to set it up. I guess that’s half the battle. The other half is using it – but I check mine every morning like I check the news.


1. Go to Google’s RSS Reader sign in page. If you have a gmail account, sign in using that username and password. If you don’t, then create an account.

2. You’ll be taken to a page that welcomes you to the reader. If you love reading detailed instructions – go nuts! Otherwise, hover over that red button that says ‘subscribe’ and click it. Here is a picture, I’ve drawn in an arrow, which won’t appear on your screen.

3. After clicking subscribe, a little box will appear below the button. Here’s what you do with that box:

  • Open your blog of choice in a new window.
  • Copy the entire web address of that blog.
  • Paste it into the little box on the Google Reader page.
  • Click Add.

You have now added a blog to your reader. This can be done with nearly any blog online – so whether you like to follow someone’s cooking page, comics, breast cancer journeys, inspirational people, news sites, TED, local event blogs – whatever, just cut, paste and add them to your reader. (And if that doesn’t work try a CNTRL + F with the phrase ‘RSS’ to see if they have a reader friendly version.)

4. Choose the settings you prefer. I like to have a list of blog titles when opening my reader (for quick scanning), other people might prefer the title and the first paragraph of text. Just play around with the ‘View settings’ button and find your preference.

If you click on a title, it will open a preview. If you click the title again, it will open the actual blog page.

5. Now that your reader is set up, you can keep abreast with all  the latest posts very easily. It’s like a miracle if you are involved in social networking, or enjoy getting your news online. Loads of wonderful people have blogs, and it’s fantastic to follow their stories – pick people you admire, choose topics that interest you – the great thing about a reader is it’s completely tailored to you, by you.

And this is what I do, because I hate online clutter. Every time I scroll the page of new posts, and read/skip whatever appeals or doesn’t, I then click “Mark all as read” – and ‘poof!’ they are eliminated from the screen. All cleaned up.

 Okay – so this post isn’t for everyone, I get that. But sometimes there are tools that are simply so worthwhile, I have to write about them. Of course, for many people setting up this reader isn’t worth the time (cause you only read a few things online, and I’m totally honoured to be one of them). But if you follow more than, say, three blogs – try the RSS Reader and see how it feels.

I’m sold, even though it’s free.

And that’s what I told my mother this morning. I even put an app on her tablet so she can quickly access the posts . . . whether she uses it is another issue. But I’ve tried. Sometimes that’s all you can do.