Add RSS Feeds to the Windows 7 Sidebar

If you subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds and want quick access to them on your Windows 7 desktop, you can add a Feed Reader gadget to the desktop to do this.

Subscribe to an RSS Feed

The first step is to subscribe to an RSS feed in Internet Explorer. The RSS button in Internet Explorer is grey unless you are on a site for which an RSS feed is available. Then, the button turns orange.

Open Internet Explorer and go to the site to which you want to subscribe. Click the orange RSS button on the toolbar.

RSS button in IE

The RSS feed displays in the browser window. Click the Subscribe to this feed link in the yellow box.

Subscribe to this feed link

The Subscribe to this Feed dialog box. You can change the name of the feed and also specify which folder in which to save the feed. This allows you to organize your feeds, if you have a lot of them. Click the Subscribe button.

Subscribe to this Feed dialog box

A message displays saying you have been successfully subscribed to the feed. A link is provided allowing you access to your list of feeds. Click the View my feeds link.

View my feeds link

A sidebar displays with the Feeds tab active, displaying a list of the feeds to which you are subscribed.

Viewing feeds in IE

Installing the Feed Reader Gadget

Now, you can install the Feed Reader gadget and import your RSS feeds from Internet Explorer into it.

Download the Atom/RSS News Reader Gadget to your desktop. You will see a FeedReader.gadget icon.

FeedReader Gadget file

Double-click the FeedReader.gadget icon to install the gadget.

NOTE: You may see a Security Warning dialog box. We installed this gadget in a Windows 7 virtual machine to test it and did not encounter any problems with it. It does not seem to pose a security risk. If you are not comfortable with installing this gadget because it is from an Unknown Publisher, then click Don’t Install. Otherwise, click Install to continue with the installation of the gadget.

FeedReader installation security warning

The Feed Reader gadget installs and opens on the desktop.

Setting up the Feed Reader

Initially, there are no feeds to display. This is where we will import feeds from Internet Explorer. Move the cursor over the gadget to access the toolbar for it. Click the wrench icon to access the options for the gadget.

FeedReader gadget on the desktop

The Feed Reader dialog box displays with the Feeds screen active. You can manually add feeds using the Feed name and Feed URL fields or you can import feeds you have already set up in Internet Explorer. For this example, we imported feeds from Internet Explorer.

FeedReader options

Click the Import Feeds from IE button. The Feeds drop-down list is automatically populated.

Imported feeds

Click the Options link to set options for the appearance of the gadget, how often it refreshes and how many items to display on a page.

FeedReader options

Click OK to close the Feed Reader dialog box.

Using the Feed Reader Gadget

To view a preview of a post, click the post title on the gadget. A window slides out with an excerpt from the post and a Read more link that opens the full post on the default web browser.

Viewing a post preview

To close the preview, click the Close [X] link.

To move among the different feeds in the gadget, click the Next feed and Previous feed buttons at the top of the gadget.


To move among the pages of posts in the gadget, click the forward and back buttons at the bottom of the gadget.

Viewing the next page of posts

NOTE: When you add more RSS feeds to Internet Explorer, they are NOT automatically added to your Feed Reader gadget. Also, if you import the feeds again without deleting the current feeds, you will have duplicate feeds in your gadget. In order to keep your gadget up to date, you must delete all the current feeds from the gadget and click the Import Feeds from IE button again.

Deleting feeds from the gadget

It might be a good idea if you make sure you have all the major feeds you want in Internet Explorer first, and then import them into the gadget. After that, it might be easier to add feeds to the gadget manually.

by Lori Kaufman

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