Basically, what a feed reader does is check the content of your favourite sites and let you know when there are new posts up. It is such a time-consuming schlep to click on to a blog you enjoy, only to find that there are no new posts. With a feed reader, that part is done for you!
My favourite feed reader is the one that comes built in with Internet Explorer 7 – that works for most of the blogs I read (*I’ll get to why I think it doesn’t work on all the blogs later) and for the rest I use Google Reader.
If you have Internet Explorer 7 (and I believe it is the same in Firefox?) – the feed reader is located using a little orange icon – on the toolbar, between “Home” and “Print”.
It’s really simple to use: If I am reading a blog I enjoy and I want to add it to my list of feeds, I simply click on that little orange icon – I am then taken to a page where I can confirm that I want to subscribe to the feed, I click on “subscribe to this feed” - a little box comes up with the name of the feed, I click “subscribe” and I am done.
Now when I want to check if there are new posts on this blog, all I need to do is click on my Favourites Centre ( the star on the very left of my IE7 toolbar), click “Feeds” and the list of feeds I follow will come up, the ones in bold have new content and I can click to read the content. Easy Peasy!
*There are a few blogs where this does not work – I have often wondered why. As far as I can gather, in order for your blog to be read by this feed reader, if you are in Blogger you need to do the following: Go to your dashboard, click on “settings”, click on “site feed” and where it says Allow Blog Feeds choose either “full” or “short” – if your selection is set on “none” your blog feed will not be picked up by IE7.
Some bloggers have a short cut on their blogs which you can click in order to subscribe to their blog feed (mine is over there on the left) in this case, you click on that shortcut and are taken to a page where you can choose your feed reader - it can be quite mindboggling as there are many Feed Readers to choose from! - I usually choose View Feed XML and then follow the steps as listed above, or to subscribe in Google Reader, click +Google.
So that is my (very simplistic) take on Feed Readers – be warned I am technologically challenged, so there are probably way better explanations for all of this and if someone can enlighten me further, please leave a comment!