Recently, one of our readers wrote me that she was “trying to figure out if there is a way to have new posts sent directly to my email… When I click on the [ProfHacker] RSS feed link I just get computer language that makes no sense.” If you’re unfamiliar with the acronym RSS and would like to learn more about it, read on for some helpful links. If, instead, you’d like to learn my answer to this question, I’ve managed to figure out a workaround that emails each new ProfHacker post to an email address. First, however, I’m going to provide a few links to posts we’ve published about using RSS feeds:
How to use RSS and RSS readers
We’ve featured several posts that demonstrate what you can do with RSS:
In “Keeping Up Online,” Jason provides a beginner-friendly introduction to RSS.
Lincoln has explained how to keep up with academic journals using RSS feeds.
Mark showed us how to hack a library catalog with RSS and SMS.
As I’ve pointed out, you can use RSS to keep up with your favorite online services.
From Jason, we’ve learned that you can turn any page into a feed with “RSS scraping.”
Okay, if you’re persuaded that RSS is useful, then you might need an RSS reader. Here are some discussions of how to pick one that’s right for you:
Back in 2010, Julie asked people to share what RSS readers they use, and
Just last week Jason asked the same question, given that the very popular GoogleReader is shutting down.
How to send an RSS feed into your email inbox
For many users, unless they’ve set up a dedicated reader, RSS feeds aren’t of much use. Some people, as the reader’s query that inspired this post makes clear, prefer to receive their information updates via e-mail. Fortunately, this is not too hard to accomplish. Here’s a step-by-step guide, using the ProfHacker RSS feed as an example:
Step 1: If you don’t already have one, sign up for a free account at the web service IFTT, also known as “If This Then That”. I wrote an introduction to IFTT soon after it first appeared.) All you need to enter is a username of your choice, an email address, and a password:
Step 2: Once logged in to your account, point your web browser to this page, where I’ve created a “recipe” (what IFTT calls specific, user-created actions) for you to use. You should see a page that looks like this:
If all you want to do is receive each new ProfHacker post by email, then click the blue “Use Recipe” button. You’re done!
If, however, you’d like to choose a different RSS feed, or customize the way the emails appear when they arrive in your inbox, then read on:
Step 3: Click on that triangle to the right of the flag, and you should see two dialogue boxes.
The first one already has the ProfHacker RSS feed entered. (If you’d like to use this recipe with a different RSS feed, this is the place for you to make that change.)
The second dialogue window allows you to customize the subject line, if you like, or the body of the email you receive for each post that is published via RSS. Just click on the big blue plus sign to make any changes you like.
Step 5: Watch those emails start rolling in. Here’s a screenshot (click to enlarge) of what my inbox looks like when the ProfHacker RSS feed is delivered by email:
How about you? What are your favorite RSS hacks? Alternatively, what are your favorite IFTTT recipes? Please share in the comments!Return to Top