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Setting Up and Reading RSS Feeds via Outlook 2007

Outlook 2007 has a separate folder for receiving RSS feeds, so you can organize the information in a way that you find useful. Generally, you don't need to know how RSS works, but it's good to know it's available when it's useful to you.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. RSS technology lets you subscribe to online information that changes frequently so that it automatically updates itself. For example, most news organizations, such as the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC, offer RSS feeds of their news stories. When you want to see the latest headlines, you don't need to open a Web site. Just check the RSS feed to look for any headlines that interest you. Every time a new story is posted to the respective Web site, the story shows up on the RSS feed, as well.

A feed is just a mechanism for updating information as it changes. Blogs and podcasts usually offer RSS feeds that allow you to keep track of new entries or episodes. Most news services also offer RSS feeds so you can read the latest news as it becomes available.

Microsoft offers a collection of RSS feeds that you can add to Outlook pretty simply by just clicking the RSS folder under the Inbox folder, then clicking one of the orange buttons on the Web page that appears. But that page includes only a few dozen of the millions of available feeds. You need a different approach if you want to subscribe to feeds unlisted by Microsoft.

To set up an RSS feed through Outlook, follow these steps:

1. Choose Tools --> Account Settings.

The Account Settings dialog box appears.

2. Click the RSS Feeds tab.

The RSS sign-up page shows the list of feeds to which you're subscribed.

3. Click New.

The New RSS Feed dialog box appears.

4. Enter the URL of the RSS feed you want.

This URL is typically pretty long. If you enter the address inaccurately, it doesn't work. Your best bet is to follow these steps:

1. Go to the site that hosts the feed you want.

2. Right-click the XML, RSS, or Feed button.

Different sites use different names for the same thing, but it's often an orange button.

3. Choose Copy Shortcut.

After you copy the shortcut, you can follow the preceding steps and paste the address into the New RSS Feed dialog box.

5. Click Add.

The RSS Feed Options dialog box shows a variety of changes you can make to your subscription:

Feed Name: You can change the name Outlook displays. Some feeds have long, clumsy names.

Delivery Location: Some feeds generate huge amounts of information every day, so you may want to send that information to a special folder or even to a totally separate data file. If you're on a big corporate network that limits the amount of email messages you're allowed to store, you may want to send your RSS subscriptions to a separate Outlook data file to avoid running out of space.

Downloads: Outlook automatically downloads only a brief summary of each item, which saves disk space but requires you to manually download full text of each item one by one. If you want Outlook to simply download the whole message, click the box labeled Download the Full Article as an .html Attachment to Each Item. Many blog entries also include attachments such as photos and sounds. Click the box labeled Automatically Download Enclosures for This Feed to do just that.

Update Limit: Some RSS feed publishers don't let you update your information too frequently. If you try to update too often, they cancel your subscription. If there's a limit assigned to the feed you've chosen, this box is automatically checked.

6. Click OK.

7. Click Close.

Your new RSS feed is ready to bring you the latest on whatever it covers, whether that's business headlines or football scores.

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