Killer Download: RSS Bandit

Anyone can get the news by visiting multiple sites, but what if you could get all the latest news items without all the surfing. This week Jason takes a look at RSS Bandit, a popular newsreader that makes getting the news easy.

Killer Download (Credit: CNET Networks)

Killer Download is a new feature on Download.com in which we'll present a new program each week. Most will be free, but some might be good enough that paying a low registration fee is well worth the cost. If you find you have a better option than the software featured, let us know in the comments!

What method do you use to get the news? For a long time, I used my Web browser and grabbed bookmarks when I found good news sites. But before long those bookmarks multiplied, making it difficult to find particular sites; I realized I had to find a way to organize them all. The most obvious method was to continue with a regular Internet browser and put similar sites into folders, calling them "News" and "Blogs" and "Software," or whatever category fit the bill. This method worked fairly well, but I never knew when any of the sites updated without actually going to the site and checking. Naturally, all sites don't update according to a schedule, so I quickly figured out that I needed to try something else.

Fortunately, most of the sites I visit offer an XML link for RSS feeds. So I did a little research and found an excellent free feed reader called RSS Bandit.

RSS Bandit

Clicking on a feed subscription brings up all the stories from that site.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

RSS Bandit, like most RSS programs, has a three-pane interface with my list of feed subscriptions on the left, headlines on the top-right, and short summaries with links on the lower-right. The feed subscription list is broken down into category folders and lets me know how many new feeds are available. Plus, RSS Bandit checks the sites for new content for me. When I click a link to a story on the lower-right, RSS Bandit opens the story in full page view (like a browser) to the right of my feed list. With this setup, it's easy to go down the list and only look at stories that have updated since the last time I checked.

One of the best features is the ability to automatically detect feeds on sites I'm interested in. When I find a good news site, I can hit the "New" button on the upper-left of the interface to open a simple wizard. From here, all I have to do is add the site's URL and RSS Bandit finds all the XML links (some sites have several for different types of news) and displays them so I can choose which ones I want using check boxes. It will even let me password protect certain feeds.

If you're a news junkie like I am, I highly recommend RSS Bandit. It does all the work for you and--best of all--it's free!

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