43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

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.

Greg Borenstein's picture

In both NNW 2b and...

In both NNW 2b and NNW Lite, you can change the font size from the preferences (in Lite it is under "HTML" and in 2b "appearance"). It would be nice, though, if the News Items display font would respond to cmd+ and cmd- the way web pages do.

One of the coolest things about NNW 2b is that if you quit when you've got a zillion tabs open (which is an easy thing to do accidentally when cmd+w is right next to cmd+q), they'll all reappear and reload when you next launch. Wish Safari did that. Also, have you seen the del.icio.us script? It lets you post the current News Item from the Apple Script menu.

I've been using NNW 2b a ton and I really like it (I even paid for it), but my question is: Do you think you'll still be using it after Safari RSS is on the scene? (If you think talking about this here would be hijacking the original topic too badly, we can move over to my place I recently posted on NNW 2b, too.)




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »