Web Browser Wednesday

I subscribe to feeds all the time, but many of the browsers are different in the way they handle feeds. Firefox has a pretty nice interface for choosing an external application as the default subscription handler while Internet Explorer (IE) and Opera are both a little more tricky. IE and Opera are setup to handle feeds from within the browser itself so they don’t offer many options for subscribing to feeds using external applications.

When you install an external application to handle your feeds on your computer, such as FeedDemon or RSS Bandit, it registers the “feed://” protocol with the operating system much the same way that your browser registers the “http://” protocol. This means that anytime a URL begins with feed:// it will actually try to launch your external feed program.

This bookmarklet doesn’t work for Firefox (at least I don’t think it does), but that doesn’t really matter because in the options you can choose a default program to handle the feeds. So if your using Internet Explorer or Opera the first thing you need to do is drag this bookmarklet into your bookmarks:

Now anytime you click on the bookmarklet it will take you directly to your external RSS feed application so that you can add the feed in there, instead of in the browser. The first time you will probably see some sort of warning like this one giving you a heads up that the browser is trying to pass a URL onto your default feed program, but you can just check the box to permanently allow this action:

Approve Feed

Don’t worry, if a site has more than one feed available the bookmarklet is designed to ask you which one you want to use before sending it to your feed program:

Select Feed

All you have to do is enter in the corresponding number of the feed you want to subscribe to and press OK.

Then I thought to myself that there had to be a better way to subscribe to the feeds…and I remembered Chris R. telling me about AddThis. It is a service that I could setup much the same way I setup the bookmarklet above, but for some people it is a little nicer. It will display a website that lists all of the feed URL’s associated with a specific site instead of having to use a popup window to select which one you want. With the way I had the bookmarklet setup it was easy to modify it to work with AddThis.

Internet Explorer and Firefox users just drag this link into your bookmarks:


Opera users can click on this link if they want to create an orange RSS button to add to any toolbar:


I tested it in Firefox, IE, and Opera and it works in all of them from what I can tell. If you create an account with you can set it up so that you’re never asked for your feed subscriber preference again, although it can be changed later on should you decide to switch what program/service you’re using.

One quick thing that I wanted to mention is that in Firefox if you use the “Google Reader” option for subscribing to feeds you’ll be presented with an option to add the feed to your Google Personalized Homepage or to Google Reader. Most of you probably use one or the other and you can configure Firefox to automatically bypass that screen and go to your favorite service by following these instructions that Chad posted in our forum.

So that’s it…the first of the bookmarklets that I actually made myself and they came because I had received a few questions about changing how Opera handles feeds by default. If you have any ideas on how I can make it better or another service you would like it to work with just let me know, and I’ll do my best to fulfill your requests! :)