Part 3: Read and Manage Feeds

The feed reading experience in IE7 is meant to be lightweight and simple. We display the accumulated feed’s contents in one scrollable view, like a webpage. This is great for news feeds and blogs where you want to scan the feed content to catch an interesting post.

There may be feeds that it is important for you to see every new item and take an action on it. This item-level management is suited for an email application with integrated feed reading experience. Since the IE7 reading experience is built on a shared platform (the RSS Platform), an email application can build this very experience without the user having go through the same discover and subscribe experience in a different application. If you are a developer and interested in building an experience like this, read more about the RSS Platform.


In subscribed mode of the Feed Reading Page, you can tell if the content is new or not if the title is blue. Our model for determining if something is new is pretty simple. If you’ve seen it before and navigated away, it’s marked as viewed. The next time you visit the feed, the previously viewed content is gray so that you can easily determine the new from the old.

Most feed items link to webpage with the related article. This is especially useful for feeds that provide a summary of the articles like For feeds like this, I like to scan all of the new feed items and load the interesting ones as background tabs by pressing the middle mouse button over the title of feed item. By the time I’m done with scanning the feed, I have the related webpages ready for me read.

By default, we keep the latest 200 feed items for a given feed (I’ll show you how to change this later). That’s a lot of items to sort through. Hello, controls!

Inline search – Type in a word in the inline search textbox and watch your view narrow down to the results as you type. I’m going to Tokyo and want to catch up on all of the articles about it. I type “tokyo” and see that there’s one article out of the 30 that I have.

Sorting – You can sort the feed by date, title, and author. There are also feeds that website publishers can customize to include more sorting fields. For example, for an Amazon wishlist feed you can also sort by price and review. If you’re a publisher, check out how to make your feed enable custom controls using the Simple List Extensions (SLX).

Filtering – You can quickly filter to a specific category if categories are included in the feed. In the case above, you can jump to the 9 feed items that are marked as “Architecture.” Just like sorting, a website publisher can include different filtering fields like region and color.

To reset your control settings, press the “Show All” link within the controls box.


You can manage a feed individually by selecting a feed in the Feed List right-clicking to go to “Properties.”

Refresh – You can change how often you want IE7 to check if there is new content available. By default it is set to once a day. This is fine for websites that don’t update their content all the time. For sites that change frequently, you may want to consider setting the refresh rate to something smaller like every 4 hours. Please don’t set a feed to check too frequently, especially if the feed doesn’t update often. That’s unnecessary checking, and websites won’t be happy about it.

A website can express the maximum of how often it wants to be checked. In IE7, we adhere to this setting to prevent the user from refreshing more frequently than the feed’s maximum.

Archive – This is the number of feed items that IE7 keeps for a feed. When you’ve hit the max capacity for a feed, IE7 removes the older items to accommodate the new items.

Enclosures – These are attached files that are part of the feed. You can have IE7 auto-download these attached files so that don’t have manually download it yourself. For example, this is a NPR feed about movies that has audio files about movie reviews. To have these automatically downloaded, select “Automatically download enclosures” on the properties dialog or the subscribe dialog at the time you subscribe to the feed:

We only download attached files that are considered safe (no executables, for example), and these files are stored separately from your personal files to keep them confined.

There’s one more to discovering, subscribing, reading, and managing, and that’s the integration experience in other applications. I can’t say much more right now, but be on the lookout by subscribing to this blog. In the meantime, try out the feed reading experience yourself!

– Jane

Comments (36)

  1. Roger Bonine says:

    There doesn’t seem to be any way to set read/unread info, either at the individual post level or the feed level. For instance, if I look at at feed and it only has two posts, I may scroll through the feed and read them both. Then I would mark the entire feed as read. Is this really not possible, or am I missing something?

  2. rss says:

    Roger – we have a "viewed" model instead of a "read/unread" model. when you view a feed in IE and navigate away, all of the items are considered "viewed." The next time you visit the same feed, the viewed items are gray, and the new items are blue.

  3. Josh says:

    Thanks for explaining the viewed/not viewed distinction. I didn’t catch the color difference when I tested it out. However, I think an read/unread model is useful because you can use it to mark items to revisit later (which is faster and more transient than bookmarking and deleting the bookmark).

    Also, are there hotkeys for moving directly to the next unviewed entry and next unviewed feed? That’s the major thing keeping me from using IE’s RSS feature exclusively.

  4. Jon Hobbs says:

    Is it possible to read all of your feeds in one long list and hide links you’ve already read like you can with google reader ?

  5. sup says:

    Outstanding! The RSS reader is reason enough to move up to IE7. Very well done.

  6. SurrealLogic says:

    Someone else already asked something similar, but is there a way to view an aggregated list of all unread feeds across all my feeds, or maybe across all the feeds in a speific folder? This is what I would see myself using feeds for the most – subscribe to the 5 or 6 feeds that interest me, and set a single page as my homepage where I can see what are the newest 20 or so news items across all my feeds.

  7. GC says:

    Is it possible to see a popup when a new article on a feed comes in. Most dedicated feedreaders have this function.

    I want to be triggerd by the feeds so i can decide if the popup appears if i want to read it right away bij clicking the article in the popup.

  8. Charles Cook says:

    Does IE7/RSS engine respect RSS settings such as ttl, skipHours, SkipDays, updatePeriod, updateFrequency (last two from Syndication module) to prevent unnecessary and undesirable feed server bandwidth usage?

  9. Carlos Silva says:

    Huh.. can you tell where I can make a bug report about RSS in IE 7?

    My IE7 RSS is completely broken, I can subscribe to the feeds, but afterwards the left panel doesn’t react to nothing.

    I can’t even delete feeds.

  10. Jeff says:

    It would be useful to have an option for the feed window to permanently remain open so that a user can quickly change between feeds without having to reopen the feeds listing. Also, there are no post counts next to a feed which is nice to know before you dive in.

  11. Gorka says:

    Have you considered an advanced settings switch on the suscribe feed dialog? Is really unconfortable go to each new feed to set the refresh propertie if you want to set to adifferent refresh than 1 day. IS a way to set the defautl refresh to a different setting than 1 day?

  12. Ron says:

    There’s obviously a bug in the api — spice world got 4 stars??

  13. Matt Ellis says:

    Just following up on the read/unred/viewed question.

    I think the viewed model makes sense for the IE user – it’s the least interaction, and it’s the majority case that the user will want to mark all items as read when they view the page.

    The problem arises when I use the common feed from a more traditional aggregator where I have more fine grained control over my feed items. If I happen to browse to my feed in IE, IE will trounce over all my settings in my aggregator.

    Some sort of compromise would be nice – the IE view still works as now, but there’s a widget in the view somewhere to keep an item marked as unread (something like the blue/grey bullet next to the title).

    What do you think?



  14. Oliver says:

    When reading feeds, it would be good to have some way or remembering which item you clicked on e.g. either keep and item list visible somewhere or return to the item one clicked on when clicking the back button. Just a thought.

  15. Stuart says:

    How can I move feeds around between folders?

  16. vytautasver says:

    it seems there still are some bugs in the Favourites and Feeds organization interface, moving feeds or favs around doesn’t work right. Still the RSS reader possibilities are one of my favourite features in the beta! Awsome!

  17. GlennE says:

    I couldn’t find a way to select podcasts to send to my mp3 player or atleast to see them in the media players playlist. Did I miss it or does it not exist?

  18. Yugo says:

    My feeds are not updated automatically, but I must refresh it manually from the left panel!

  19. Pratik says:

    A welcome to feeds in IE.

    It would have been better if feeds in the favorites center could have drop down list of topics so the only feed required to read would open and it should have option of displaying the feed in main window or in the favorites center window only while simontanously browsing any site in main window.

    Or like firefox provide feeds toolbar, to add feeds or view feed topics opening in main or favorites center window.


  20. su says:

    In general I love the feed support in ie7.  However using a fixed position navigation component in the feed display is wicked annoying when you want to print a feed – especially if the feed is several pages long.

  21. rss says:

    Josh –

    We’re adding shortcut keys so that you can jump to the next feed item easily.

    – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  22. rss says:

    Jon Hobbs –

    We currently do not have an aggregated view of all feed items.

    – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  23. rss says:

    Charles Cook –

    The sync engine respects TTL, conditional gets, skipHour, and skipDay when specified by the feed.

    – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  24. rss says:

    Jeff –

    You can have the feed list pinned open by clicking on the top-right button of the Favorites Center Menu.

    – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  25. rss says:

    Stuart –

    There is a known bug where the cursor is incorrect when trying to drag a feed to another folder.

    In order to work around the bug, you need to drop the feed on the folder itself, not between feeds within a folder.

    – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  26. rss says:

    GlennE –

    For enclosures, make sure that the checkbox to download attached files (enclosures) on.  In the properties menu of a feed (right-click on a feed), there is a "view" button.  This is the explorer view of the downloaded files that you can import into your music app.

    – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  27. su says:

    Also watch what happens when you use the Zoom tool when viewing a feed!  Yowza.

  28. Rich Gautier says:

    If you close IE7 for the night, come back the next day and open up your feeds, they have not refreshed (so they don’t integrate with the scheduled refresh that IE had for auto-refreshing content).

    Then, there is no way to force refresh them, and because you’ve fallen outside the schedule window, they do not automatically refresh any more.  You must delete the subscription and re-subscribe to the content to get it to refresh.

    This is ‘broken’.

  29. Rich Gautier says:

    Well, refresh button works but ONLY on the RSS control bar.  Hitting F5/Refresh on the feed itself does not refresh the content from the page.

    Additional clue – auto refresh might be breaking due to cleared History.  Since I clean my History nightly (IE setting), this may be causing auto-refresh in the morning to not be able to determine time of last refresh and thus not automatically refresh feeds….just an idea.

  30. Matt says:

    I would like to select many feeds and change the update frequency for all of them at the same times but this doesnt seem to work. perhaps its not meant to work that way either but I got 182 feeds and I would like a bunch of them to update atleast once an hour and then some to update once a day. Its also very very difficult to manage them at all. Drag and drop just sucks with them.

  31. Ed says:

    Can the default behavior when clicking a linki in the RSS page be changed to always open in a new tab? If I forget to click the middle button on a RSS link, all entries from that feed are marked ‘viewed’, when I go back everything is grey.

  32. Eric K. says:

    The RSS search textbox in my installation of IE7 does not stay to the right of content and doesn’t force content to wrap around it.  It merely squats on top of any page content and WILL NOT GO AWAY.

    This is not desirable behavior.  Nobody likes a persistent and annoying box on top of what they’re trying to read.

    Amd I intended to scroll the page around just to get to see something the RSS feature was supposedly *designed* to show me?  And why canni not banish this search box if I’m not planning on doing any searching?

  33. Bjørn Nielsen says:

    The feed reader in IE7 have allready replaced my use of bloglines. It’s great, but does have some issues, that would be annoying in the long run.

    – static feed-leftbar is only accessible through ctr+j, why not also with a dobble mouseclick on the favorites center star.

    – manual refresh of feeds are only accessible by rightclicking at feeds, why not a hotkey for this? And also one for skipping to next feed/or next unviewed feed.

    – lack of global settings for feeds (if you like me check feed all day long, refresh rate once a day is not enough, and it’s a hell lot of clicks to change settings manually for 50+ feeds)

    -"synchronize" in tools menu, is at moment only working for the homepage, why not for feeds also?

    -the feed logo is pretty, but why not use the websites favicon for those who have?

    -I also experienced periods where the feeds weren’t updated for a whole day. They started updating again after I manually refreshed some of them. Is this a flaw?

    -Some feeds do often come as unviewed without having any unviewed items. Could this by IE7 or problems with the feed?

    -There is sometimes flying items when looking at some feeds. Graphics and sometimes also the blue dots sliding vertically up and down.

  34. Dreamliner says:

    The refresh settings is difficult to find. Why don’t you include it somewhere under the Tools menu instead?

  35. Joe says:

    I imported all my feeds via OPML. I painstakingingly set the update frequencies for each. I have never seen ANT of them update without right-clicking each one and refreshing it. If this is not a bug, then the UI is not intuitive.

  36. Bob Loblaw says:

    I am unable to download ie7 — an msfeeds.dll problem I just can’t fix — but using a friend’s machine I thought the RSS feature excellent. Is there a Feed Reader out there that I can use that is very similar?