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What is RSS and how can I use RSS feeds?

Updated Tuesday 31st March 2015

RSS feeds detect new content from websites of your choice then send it to you, meaning you can read new articles without even visiting those websites. Find out more in our Quickstart Guide.

What is an RSS feed?

RSS feeds are the ultimate cyber paperboy, delivering the latest articles you’re likely to be interested in as and when they become available.

What kind of new content can I get?

In OpenLearn, you can specify the type of content you want sent to you according to areas and subjects. This means you can receive feeds from, for example, the Body and Mind section or items that have been tagged with a particular keyword (for example, science or politics).

Where is new content sent?

Depending on how you choose to retrieve new content (see choices below), it can either appear on a web-based reader, web browser, be sent direct to your PC hard drive or be sent to your email inbox if your reader gives you this option.

Sounds good. How do I do this?

  1. Set up a news reader: You will need an RSS news reader. Some well-known online brands such as Yahoo offer these, handy if you already have an account with them as you won’t need to create a new one. Or you can download an application to your computer or use a browser, such as Firefox. For a list of options, see the links below.
  1. Choose the content: Once you’ve downloaded your news reader, you can start choosing which content you wish to receive. On many websites, the orange symbol below is used to indicate a feed is available. If no orange button is available, then it means a feed isn’t available or another small icon is sometimes used with acronyms such as RSS, XML, or RDF to let you know a feed is available.
RSS button
  1. Receive the content:Simply click the orange symbol (or relevant symbol) and you’ll be directed to a web page. Depending on which reader you choose, cut and paste the web address of the RSS feed or the subscribe button into the relevant part of your news reader. If you're using a web browser such as Firefox, just click on the subscribe button. Follow the instructions supplied by the website and your news reader if you're unsure.
  1. Reading RSS feeds: Once you do this, you will start receiving feeds as and when they go live. They will show as story titles. To read more, simply click on the title and you’ll be taken to the full story.

RSS news readers



Windows PC


Linux, Solaris, Mac OSX, Windows and others




Windows Phone


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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