Friday, March 11, 2011

Easy RSS Feeds in Mac Mail

Blogs.  There are multiple blogs that I subscribe to or "follow".  Most about genealogy, but also some from family and friends.  Until today, I attempted to read them through my Google homepage using GoogleReader.  I must admit I wasn't very good at keeping up.  There are days when I would rev up the computer only to see 365 feeds waiting for my attention.  I would glance at the first few, and then click on the "mark all as read" button.  Just too much to deal with.  There is only so much time in a day!

It doesn't help that every single item posted gets a feed and pops up in the list.  That means I may be behind in reading say up to 10 posts from Dear Myrtle, 30 from Dick Eastman and 20 from Genealogy News, just to mention a few.  And buried in that list somewhere would be my daughter's last post about my grandchildren and my niece's description of their Texas escapades.

For some time now I've thought about the potential solution to this issue.  OK, I haven't thought too hard or I would have had it fixed long ago.  Aside from having multiple Google home pages with various themes and related feeds, I just hadn't found the right solution.  Until today.

Still fairly new to the Mac environment, having purchased my iMac just last summer, I can plead ignorance to the obvious.  After all, it takes a few months to acclimate to a new operating system after spending the bulk of your life on another, then another few months to selectively transfer all of your files (no I didn't want to migrate everything), another few months to get used to running Windows in the VMware Fusion virtual machine and subsequently unity mode.  So, now I'm several months into this transition and I have finally found the RSS feed option in Mail.  I had organized all my mailboxes so they come to one location, all of the mail folders to store things I needed to keep, but somehow I missed that nice "RSS" feed mode in spite of the fact that Apple automatically puts their feed there for you when you start the machine.

I decided to give it a try.  I opened up my Google Reader, pulled the URLs of the genealogy blogs I want to follow out and one at a time added them to the RSS Reader in Mail.  Now it seems logical that there would be a way to add multiple feeds at a time, but I haven't found it yet.  Nevertheless, it didn't really take me long to selectively move the most popular ones to try this out.

And voila!  All of a sudden I have an alphabetical list of the blogs I'm following along with the number of feeds received and unread.  Now, instead of reading one of this, one of that, skipping through looking for topics of interest, I can select the blog and glance through the topics in the same manner that I would glance through the subject lines of multiple emails, open and read or hit the delete key as appropriate.  In no time at all, I have made quick work of what used to be a daunting task.  And I don't feel like I missed anything--as I often did when GoogleReader numbers got out of control.  After all, if I don't want to wade through a particular list of feeds today, I can save it until tomorrow, and it will be there waiting for me in its nicely tidy little feed box.

I'm sold on this concept.  I've all of my genealogy feeds to Mail, leaving just family feeds for Google Reader. 

Now, knowing that not everyone owns a Mac, I did a quick check to see if other email products perform similar functions.  And many do.  For those who don't, there are services that allow you to subscribe for a certain number of feeds for free, more for a fee.  Perhaps you are way ahead of me and have been receiving your RSS feeds in your email for years.  If not, you might try checking your help menu to see how to add them in your particular program.  And see if you like this method of "keeping up" to be a bit more efficient.

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