Thunderbird Explained: A Tutorial
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Introduction

Download and Install

Navigating Thunderbird

Adding Email Accounts

RSS Reader

Using Filters

Spam and Junk Mail

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Adding an RSS feed for News or Blogs

RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a way to subscribe to websites such as news or blogs. This portion of the tutorial will teach you how to use Thunderbird to subscribe to CNN Headlines, as well as the RSS feed from www.brazos.indylibrarian.net/blog, my personal blog.


Thunderbird uses RSS to download information (in this case websites) directly to your email client. It periodically checks for new information from the RSS feed so whenever you go online, you do not need to visit the website in question in order to receive breaking news. The RSS reader also periodically checks for new information while you are online.


In order to add an RSS feed, go to File then New then Account and select RSS News and Blogs. Follow the prompts to name your new RSS account. Once the account has been created, select it on the Thunderbird Sidebar and right click (control + click for Macs). Then select the option to Manage subscriptions and the manage subscriptions frame is opened. Use this interface to add a new news/blog subscription.


In this first example, we will be subscribing to the CNN news website. Open up a web browser. Type in the CNN address, www.cnn.com. Most websites have their RSS feed somewhere on the main page. Look for the CNN RSS feed. It is located at the bottom of the main page next to an orange XML box and says, "Add RSS headlines". Follow this link.

This page gives you some information about RSS feeds and RSS. Now select the Top Stories link (http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_topstories.rss). If you click on this link, it will take you to a page with XML information. The first line says "-<rss version="2.0">". This means that we are in the right place for an RSS feed.

Return to the Thunderbird program where you left it, managing subscriptions to RSS feeds. Now select the Add button. It will prompt you to enter a feed URL. This is the aforementioned url (http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_topstories.rss). Enter this into the feed URL field and select the OK button. Thunderbird will now populate your News and Blog account with a CNN icon. This CNN icon represents your RSS feed. Notice that unread news stories are darkened, while read ones are lightened. Select a news story like you would an email. The CNN News feed downloads the actual webpage content.

If you are on a slower connection, or would like to be more discriminating, change the options of the feed (click on News and Blogs on the side, then manage subscriptions now select CNN.com then Edit feed check the “Show the article summary instead of loading the Web Page”).  From here, you can edit your feed or even erase it.  Notice that when selecting an article, it acts like a webpage; clicking on links in the article will in fact open up a new web browser and take you to the linked content.

Now try adding an RSS feed for a blog, in this case http://brazos.indylibrarian.net/blog/.  Go to the website and look for the RSS feed.  For this example, the RSS feed for the entries is located at the bottom of the website, where it says, “Syndicate entries using RSS.”  Click on this link and it will bring you to a webpage that looks similar to the one at CNN - a valid RSS feed.  Copy the link (http://www.brazos.indylibrarian.net/blog/wp-rss2.php) and go back to Thunderbird and follow the same procedure that you did with the CNN feed in order to add it to your inbox.  Once added, return to the main Thunderbird interface. Notice how under the new blog “response”, only the text, and not the entire webpage content is visible; depending on the feed, this may occur.  Also notice that a time stamp is used when downloading the messages, and much like those of an email, it indicates when a blog or article was posted.

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