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Custom feed refreshing in NetNewsWire

NetNewsWire is one my favorite Mac applications. It's a beautiful RSS/Atom reader with so many wonderful features that it's easy to lose one of it's smartest ones in the lights.

I've talked recently about the value of setting your email program's "autocheck" frequency to something more realistic than "every minute," as so many folks currently do. It's an easy way to minimize distraction, plus it encourages the smart habit of "ganging" email work into focused sprints of activity—rather than dashing away from whatever you're doing every minute or two like Pavlov's drooly puppy.

NetNewsWire has a setting that supports this same good habit in your site surfing habits. Under "Preferences > Downloading > Feeds", you can set "Refresh all subscriptions" to any of [Manual only | Every 30 Minutes | Every Hour | Every 4 Hours]. While the last one is optimal for server load etiquette and reduced distraction fu, I think you could be forgiven for wanting updates every hour. But what if you want even more granularity—to further minimize distractions from time sink "fun" sites? Easy.

My MeFi prefs in NNW

  1. In NetNewsWire, select the feed whose checking frequency you want to edit, and go to "Window > Get Info" (or key CMD-i).
  2. Flip the little reveal triangle for "Refreshing"
  3. Click "Use custom refresh schedule"
  4. For "Refresh every X hours" choose something that works for you.
    • I'd suggest somewhere between 2 and 24 hours, depending on the site
  5. Click "Skip during manual refresh"

You can repeat this for any feed whose siren's call is taking you away from the work at hand. Alternatively, I suppose you could use this trick in reverse; set the "Refresh all subscriptions" to "Every 4 Hours" and then tell a given individual feed to refresh every hour or 1/2-hour.

Also, if it's not clear already, I do really recommend Mac users consider having a look at NetNewsWire or it's freeware little brother, NetNewsWire Lite. Atom and RSS always seemed like a good idea, but it took Brent's amazing work on NNW to make them as integrated into my working day as email and the web.

Kevin Ballard's picture

I'd like to point out...

I'd like to point out that anybody using NetNewsWire 1.x should really upgrade to the public beta of NetNewsWire 2. It's fantastic.

Oh, and here's another tip. You can set the custom refresh for folders, and any children of the folders inherit that custom refresh as their default refresh (you can obviously set a custom refresh for them that's different). That's quite useful. For instance, when I was testing out podcasting (I eventually stopped, since I rarely ever listened to them, since I don't have a commute), I set the Podcasts folder to refresh every 24 hours, since no podcasts (that I know of) come out with more than one a day (and most are less often). This way whenever I added a new podcast, it would default to refreshing once a day rather than once every hour.

I'd also like to mention tuning refreshes with the bandwidth stats window. A while ago I set my default refresh to every hour, then waited a day, then opened up my bandwidth stats window and found all the feeds that either didn't use gzip or didn't use 304 responses and made them refresh less often. Then I found the ones that did do that and, depending on the feed, made them refresh more often. Of course, I took update schedule as a factor in this. MacUpdate gets refreshed every half hour, because it's always adding new stuff. Same for Fark and BoingBoing. But, for example, ChiperBlog (the blog of one of my friends) gets updated every 6 hours, because he often goes for days or weeks between posts (and 6 hours is a reasonable compromise between once a day, which is more economical, and every hour, which lets me see the post sooner after it goes up).




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