One thing that Microsoft did a good job of in Internet Explorer 7 was making it easy for users to read feeds. They provided a feed reader that was so simple, yet it does exactly what most casual users want, and that is to keep up on the latest news from around the Web.
Despite doing many things right, there are some things that it doesn’t do, but for those things, there are work-arounds which you might find useful. This includes adding a notifier so that you know when there are new items, and synchronizing with an online service so that your feeds are up-to-date both at work and at home. Here are some tips that you might find helpful if you use the feed reader in Internet Explorer…
–Synchronize with NewsGator Online (Homepage)–
This is one of my favorite add-ons for Internet Explorer because it focuses on the fact that not everyone sits in front of the same computer all day. Many of us go from being at home, to work, and then back home again which is where the NewsGator Desktop Sync comes in handy.
This small, lightweight program installs in a matter of seconds on your computer. Once setup, it will synchronize with an online NewsGator account to keep track of which feeds/posts that you have read. You can choose to have IE override all feed settings, have NewsGator’s online service override all settings, or have the application merge the feeds in the browser and what’s available online.
The System Tray icon gives you easy access to synchronization, and in just a few clicks you can sync up before you go to work or come home. Or, if that seems like too much of a hassle you can actually customize the duration between syncs so that you never even have to think about it.
–Feed Folder (Homepage)–
This add-on doesn’t do that much, but it does make your feeds a little more accessible outside of just Internet Explorer. By using the Feed Folder add-on all of your feeds will be placed in your Favorites bookmarks folder in addition to the normal feed location within Internet Explorer 7. This means that your feeds will quickly be accessible from Windows Explorer as well as the Start Menu (if configured to show Favorites in the Start Menu properties).
–MS Feed Icon (Homepage)–
This is simply a notification system and System Tray icon for the feed reader in IE7. Basically, it adds the most critical thing that Microsoft never put into their browser, but this one does a terrific job of going above and beyond the call of duty. Check out everything it can do:
- Icon in the system tray indicating status of you feed subscriptions
- Displays notifications when a feed contains new posts, and you can customize which feeds receive the notification.
- Can automatically marks a feed as read
- Force an update on all feeds
- Star a notification for later reading (essentially pinning it so that the notification doesn’t close)
- Mark as read without viewing the feed
- Unsubscribe from a feed within the notification window
- Search new posts for specific Tags so you can select which posts are interesting to you. Then any matching posts can be starred to ensure that the notification window does not close until you manually close it.
- Feed statistics
- Presentation mode aware (Windows Vista only)
- Customizable background color
–Feeds Plus (Homepage)–
Feeds Plus makes it possible to read all of your feeds on the same page. This is a really nice feature as long as you don’t have a large number of feeds, but you can always organize your feeds into folders. That way you can just read all of the items on a folder by folder basis.
It also has a built-in notifier that pops up near the System Tray when a feed has new posts, but it isn’t nearly as extensive as what the MS Feed Icon has to offer. Luckily you can disable this notifier so that it doesn’t conflict with MS Feed Icon.
As you can see, there are several tools available that all enhance IE7’s Feed Reader. None of them really make it a full-fledged application like FeedDemon or RSS Bandit, but they help make it a lot more useful.
If you have any other tools that you use with Internet Explorer 7’s feed reader be sure to let us know. We’ve also written two other posts, here and here, on other great add-ons for Internet Explorer 7.