RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it is an easy way to stay up-to-date with any new content added to your favorite blogs and Web sites.
If you want a very easy way to automatically see any new updates at your favorite Web sites, RSS is the way to go. By just clicking a few links, RSS tells your browser that it should keep track of your favorite sites, put together a list of anything you haven't seen yet, and make the items easy for you to find. You can use RSS to subscribe to almost any blog, podcast or Web site you're interested in, and all updates to every site will appear in a neat list in your browser.
RSS works a lot like bookmarking a Web site, but instead of bookmarking, you actually subscribe to the parts of the site's content you want by clicking what is known as an RSS feed. The feed will appear in your "Bookmarks" menu, but instead of just taking you to the site, it will tell you if there is anything new to see -- and if you click it, it will take you straight to a list of everything new.
Different browsers display RSS feeds differently. In Internet Explorer, your list of feeds is stored in your "Favorites Center" (click on the yellow star to the left-hand side of your toolbar), and anything with updates will show up in bold. In FireFox, subscriptions show up in the bookmarks menu itself, and new content shows up when you click. In Safari, your subscriptions show up within your bookmarks, and any new content will display a number (the number of new items) next to them.
Another way to use RSS is to set up a feed reader (also called an aggregator). There are many online aggregators, such as Bloglines and Google Reader. You can also download an aggregator program, such as RSS Bandit. Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages: If you download a program, it will have to install on your computer as a new application, and it can only check for content while you are connected to the Internet. But after it has checked for new content, it will allow you to access feeds even when you are offline. On the other hand, online feed readers allow you to sign in and view your feeds from any computer.
For a good overview of several popular readers, click here.
If you use Internet Explorer or FireFox, simply find the blog you're interested in and click on the blog feed's link. On the new page that appears, click on the link that says "Subscribe to this feed," and click "Subscribe" in the pop-up box. In FireFox, the top of the page is just a bit different -- you can choose an online blog reader right when you subscribe, or stick with "Live Bookmarks" to use FireFox itself.
If you use a feed reader such as Bloglines, Google Reader, My Yahoo, or any other, you may have to copy the URL of the blog feed you're interested in:
Most feed readers will have a page where you can subscribe to a new feed. Paste the URL into the subscribe box and hit "Subscribe." See your reader's individual help page for more information on this.