You used to relax in the morning with a warm cup of coffee, reading your favorite blog, until your life took over and changed everything. You even had time to browse and meander through several of your favorite blogs. Then life happened. You got busy, or you got a promotion, and your mornings transformed into a busy time where you need to race through emails before the workday started. Thankfully, RSS feeds are a savior for the worker – a way to sort of auto-browse all of those headlines without the need to click and read each one.
What you’re suffering from is a condition called “aging”. You have kids, your responsibilities grow, and it seems like the days grow shorter. First, you no longer have time to play those games that you used to love so much. Then, before you know it, you’re losing touch with the news and with headlines from the world around you. It really doesn’t have to be that way though. RSS feeds have been around for ages, and they remain the most popular vehicle for busy people to get the latest news quickly and efficiently.
In this article, I’m going to cover four of the best tools to deliver RSS feed updates directly to your desktop, either through RSS tickers, or from alert boxes that display feed information right inside and scroll automatically. This way, during your workday, you can just glance over at the streaming updates and if a topic catches your eye, you can click on it and bookmark the article to read later, during your lunch break or after work.
News RSS Ticker
One of my favorite methods to display news RSS feeds, especially on my nice big second screen that I recently purchased, is the scrolling ticker RSS feed display. News RSS Ticker is among the top ticker-tape RSS feed displays out there, thanks to nice large scrolling font, and the fact that it takes up so little of the desktop display space. It is docked at the top and leaves nearly your entire display available for other work.
Adding feeds is as simple as right clicking on the ticker, going to “File” and either importing a feed list file (OPML), or opening individual feeds.
The beauty of this is that you can use the various section feeds from news sites like CNN, and totally tailor the type of news that gets displayed on your desktop RSS ticker tape display.
News RSS Ticker actually comes preloaded with a good-sized list of news feeds from around the web, but if you want to add more, you can also add individual feeds and enable them to display by clicking on the checkbox next to the feed title.
Here’s what the ticker display looks like docked at the top of my desktop display.
It’s simple, easy to read even when sitting back from the screen, and it’ll catch your attention when a particularly interesting headline scrolls across the screen.
If ticker displays are not your cup of tea, have no fear, because there are also great desktop feed display tools that present feed content in a different format. One great example of this is Feed Notifier, an RSS feed app that Craig actually reviewed not long ago.
Feed Notifier rests in your taskbar, and you can add feeds to it simply by right clicking on the icon and selecting “Add Feed”.
It’s a tad annoying that you have to add feeds individually – there’s no way to import feed lists – but this is a small drawback to deal with given how useful the app is once you’ve got it loaded up with your favorite feeds.
Feed Notifier actually goes out and identifies the Feed Title and Feed Link details and autofills the next form for you. All you have to do is tweak the polling speed and the display box border color if you want, and then finish the Add Feed wizard.
As you can see below, the feed display box is semi-transparent, and it has forward and reverse controls, so that you can scroll through the feed title list if you want to do it manually. It’s also cool that you can assign a different box border color, depending on the feed that you’re adding.
This is a useful way for you to know which feed you’re looking at when glancing at the screen, just based on the assigned color for that feed.
Back to the very popular ticker format, Desktop Ticker is another one that does it well. Unlike News RSS Ticker, this one has smaller text and takes up a smaller footprint on the desktop. For some, the smaller text and footprint may be preferable. You can add feeds by going to “File” and selecting “Manage Feeds…”
There, you’ll find a list of pre-existing feeds, and to add your own, you just have to paste the URL into the URL field and click “Add”, or click on “Import..” and you can import a list of feeds you might already have.
Just check off the feeds that you want the ticker to display. You can also customize the appearance and location of the ticker in the “Tools” submenu.
Of the two RSS desktop ticker apps, I still like the News RSS Ticker better, but that’s only because I really like big, bold headlines scrolling across the screen. Other people might prefer the clean, small text scrolling across the screen, in which case you’d be better off using Desktop Ticker.
I think out of all of the RSS desktop display apps that I’ve ever tried, Snackr is easily one of the best. It’s filled with features, very customizable, and the ticker includes small images as well as text, which is very cool.
Upon installing and launching Snackr (which requires the installation of Adobe AIR Runtime by the way), you’ll see a list of feeds already available in the app. This setup screen is also where you can set up display preferences, and set up – get this – your Google Reader sync. Okay, so maybe they’re one or two updates behind…
Regardless, the ticker display is without a doubt the best out there, with cool news photo icons or logo icons displayed with the article headlines. These really make the ticker display more interesting, and just give the whole thing a much more professional look.
Customizing the ticker is really flexible as well, with the ability to have the ticker display on any of the four sides of the screen, and you can easily tweak things like ticker speed, opacity, the freshness of the feed stories, and much more.
Which RSS Feed App Is The Best?
Of all four desktop RSS feed display options, I think Snackr is my favorite. Snackr has been around for a long time, and I think the reason for that is because it does what it does well, and it lets you use it in whatever way – and wherever on the screen – that suits you best. I love that.
Do you get your news and blog updates from RSS feeds? Do you use any sort of desktop display or alert apps? Share your own tips about how you display RSS feeds on your desktop in the comments section below!