Mail.app as RSS reader

I was trying out the RSS reader built into Mail.app. Does anyone find it to be anything but completely useless? It reposts items all the time -- even when they haven't changed. E.g., using it with the various Facebook feeds means you see the same things as "new" over and over and over and over.
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18 Responses:

  1. scullin says:

    I can't stand Mail.app as an RSS reader because it lacks the all important "read all new stuff by bonking the spacebar" navigation feature. It's irritating enough with mail.

  2. artkiver says:

    never tried it; safari's seems semi-useful for a lightweight reader though. Definitely better than the worthless live bookmarks in firefox.

  3. rafasgj says:

    Sold my soul to the devil and only use Google's Reader for RSS. Safari works fine, but syncronizing among all my machines is a nightmare, at best.

    Don't use Mail.app neither for email.

  4. lhoriman says:

    I use it. It has its bugs but how else are you going to get RSS entries mixed in with your email inbox? I have about 20 feeds subscribed.

    Are you 100% certain the reposted entries haven't changed? Maybe it's some minor field in the XML.

    A few times Mail.app "forgot" that I'm caught up on whole feeds but I have few other complaints. These times corresponded to times that Mail.app hung and had to be killed.

    • jwz says:

      Yes, I'm certain. I diffed the entries, and they are identical in every byte.

      And it's BS that I can have them mixed in with my "Inbox" -- that is, the one particular folder that happens to be named "Inbox" -- but can have them mixed with no other folders. You can't put RSS in a folder-container, and can't even make virtual folders that include RSS folders. Want one or two folders that contain all of your feeds? Tough luck, you'll get one folder per feed and like it. Or, have them all show up in the folder called "Inbox". Those are your only options. Organizing in any other way is forbidden.

      The Mail.app RSS reader is junk. I've already given up on it.

      It feels like yet another weekend hack that got pushed out just before the release, with no usability testing, just to create another line item in a press release (see also Dashboard).

      • waider says:

        Agreed with the weekend hack nature of it. I use it for two things: an lj feed that I don't want in my friendslist, and the Freakangels comic. It seems to cope just fine with those, no regurgitated articles. From what bit of hacking about I've done with RSS feeds myself (I have a hacked-up CGI-based reader tuned to personal taste) I've found that there's a massive range in what people claim is RSS (or Atom, for that matter) and some are more difficult to uniquely identify items in than others. Do you have example feeds - not offering to debug this, I'm just curious to see how my own code copes.

  5. ninjarat says:

    I've not used it with Facebook but I do use Mail.app for /., Ars, ICHC and others. I have seen what you describe, but only rarely and never that I can recall for slashdot. I figure that something server-side is screwing around with GUIDs.

  6. fyre_fiend says:

    I had the same experience. I gave up on it and switched to NetNewsWire

  7. It works great if you have a small number (say, 3) of feeds that are updated a small number (say, 3) of times a day. And you set it to delete things after one day. And you never delete anything by hand. And you don't quit mail or reboot your machine. Since that's precisely my situation, I use it.

    Nonetheless, this is not an objection to the "junk" assessment. And it seems to support the weekend hack hypothesis as well.

    • stevewpalmer says:

      Another free RSS reader for the Mac OSX is Vienna. I wrote it before Mail gained built-in RSS feeds but I still think it's a more functional alternative for some people.

  8. luminalflux says:

    Works fine for me, but I've only got around 10 feeds and they don't update crazy often, maybe once an hour for stuff like TUAW.com. In my experience it's better than Safari's RSS reader which regularly beachballed while trying to update icanhascheezburger's feed.

  9. telecart says:

    I have to force quit mail.app 4 times a week as is, I'm not putting anything else on it.

    Only semi-decent desktop rss reader I've found is NetNewsWire. I fucking hate newsgator, but you don't have to udse newsgator sync to use it, and the bloglines sync is actually kinda useful.

    • telecart says:

      btw, for facebook status feeds, I created a dummie twitter account which I follow with my regular twitter account, so it conveniently pops up in my twitterific.
      I have since seen FMenu give the same functionality (and a tad more), but adding an application rather than integrating with something that's already open on my desktop nonstop is redundant.
      Also, with AdiumX having just added facebook chat support, (and I'm already a frequent Photobook user) hopefully soon we'll have all the functionality of facebook without ever having to log on to the damn thing.

  10. mcnabb says:

    I use rssfwd.com to get rss feeds as email.

  11. edouardp says:

    Yes - I found it useless as well. Although I would have probably gone with "utterly".

    The mode of failure it exhibited for me was quite different - it would not show any new posts for a feed for roughly 4 weeks, then it would show me a bunch that were 2 to 4 weeks old. And then no more for a few weeks, and then another bunch of new-to-me, but old-to-everyone else items.

    Now I use Vienna (www.vienna-rss.org) - I remember trying it a while back, and it had too many bugs, but the last version seems to have gotten rid of most, if not all, of them, so I'm finding it really nice now.

    In completely unrelated news, I just tried using Thunderbird as a NNTP client, and it managed to mess up its "message-id/body content" database within 30 minutes. On a post I made, which is probably statistically unimportant, but annoyed the hell out of me.

    Damned software.

  12. karlshea says:

    I had been using FeedDemon on Windows, then when I started a job at a company where I'm using a Mac I started using the same company's NetNewsWire, which syncs feeds and read status on multiple machines and the web.

    http://www.newsgator.com/Individuals/NetNewsWire/Default.aspx

    I'm very happy with the Mac version, which is free. You might want to give it a try.

  13. web_weasel says:

    I've just started using Google Reader with Feedly http://www.feedly.com/.