Have you ever wished you could have pop-up notifications of the latest stories on the websites you read, the latest Tweets of people you follow, or even the latest eBay and Craigslist postings for items that you are interested in? This is exactly what Feed Notifier can do for you.
Feed Notifier is a free, system-tray based RSS feed notifier with some advanced functionality, such as the ability to filter items based on keywords, support for RSS and Atom feeds, and support for authenticated feeds that require a user name and password. It is also generally very versatile and highly configurable.
I have come across a number of free system-tray based RSS feed notifiers, but Feed Notifier brings a sophistication and elegance that eludes most other programs. More notes as follows:
- Keyword filtering: this is really powerful. You can include or exclude based on keywords or phrases (e.g. +freeware, +”free software”, +freeware and -shareware, etc). You can also limit filtering to specific fields, which depend on the individual RSS feed (e.g. -author:”John Doe”), and you can enable or disable substring matching (which can detect the word “free” as a substring of “freeware” for example). More info on keyword filtering here.
- Browsing: want to browse a feed quickly? You can scroll through the various posts right in the system tray popup dialog using little forwards/backwards buttons, or quickly jump to the next or the previous feed. Can potentially be quite the time saver.
- Placement: display the popup dialog near the system tray, in the center of your screen, or adjacent to any of the four corners of the screen.
- Behavior: is highly customizable. For example you could Enable/Disable individual feeds without deleting them, set Feed Notifier to not update feeds if it detects that you’ve been idle for a certain amount of time (60 seconds by default), set the width of the popup, its transparency, and how long it will flash on screen, and even whether new items should auto-display when they come in, etc…
- Scheduling: is determined for each RSS feed separately. For example you might want a certain feed to be checked every 15 minutes while another to be kept to an hourly or even daily schedule, etc.
- Memory footprint: is approx 37 megs. While it seems a bit high for this sort of app it is not really surprising given the features on offer.
- Other features of note: supports authenticated feeds requiring a username and password, supports launching via feed:// protocol (from Firefox and other browsers), supports multi-threaded feed polling.
- Craigslist, eBay, and Twitter notifications: all of these offer RSS feeds, but I mention here because the author of this program has an excellent writeup on how to set up Craiglist and eBay notificiations as well as Twitter notifications.
Wish list (or how this program can be even better)
- Support for images: strangely, Feed Notifier does not display any images that are included in the feed. It would be nice if there was an option to switch image support off and on.
- Viewing lists instead of individual posts: I found myself wishing I could press a button and view the list of cached posts from a particular feed, right in the popup notification dialog, instead of having to scroll through news items one by one.
- Feed-specific preferences for caching: that could override the global preferences. For example I might want to cache RSS updates for 1 day or 500 items per feed generally, but for a particular feed I might want to override this, say keeping only 50 items.
- The ability to import/export OPML files: in order to add a whole bunch of feeds at once instead of having to add them manually one by one. Perhaps not a big deal, as this sort of notifier ought to be used with a handful of high-interest feeds rather than as your main RSS feed browser.
The verdict: a terrific, well made program that looks good and provides a wealth of options. I particularly like the advanced keyword filtering functionality, which can provide a remedy for informational overload and protect against being flooded with notifications. I also like the fact that you can change the placement of the popup (say, move it to the upper right) and that popups do not steal keyboard or mouse focus from other applications when they appear.
As a system-tray based desktop RSS notifier this would probably be my app of choice. For more options for reading RSS feeds check out my previous post entitled Nine ways to check RSS feeds (including some unusual ones).
Version Tested: 2.2
Compatibility: WinAll. Mac and Linux support is on the way, it seems.
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 7 megs).