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How to filter, combine, and customize RSS feeds

By Bryan Helmig · May 11, 2021
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Want to keep up with your favorite sites without getting overwhelmed? There are too many things published each day to possibly read them all—but you also don't want to miss things. Skimming through headlines in your news reader app can help, but we've got a better trick: An RSS Superfeed—one you can customize and roll your own.

RSS—or really simple syndication—feeds are one of the best ways to keep up with your favorite sites. Almost every blog and news site includes an RSS feed, often at site.com/feed or site.com/rss. Subscribe to them with an RSS feed reader app like Feedly or Newsblur, and you can read all of the top headlines together.

However, this can still be overwhelming if you follow more than a handful of sites. Instead, customize and filter your own RSS feeds using app automation tool Zapier and you can create one RSS feed that includes just the posts you're most interested in. You can even combine several RSS feeds to get all of your favorite articles into one easily digestible RSS feed.

Here's how.

1. Find the RSS feeds you want to follow

First, copy the RSS feed link for each site you want to follow. Just open your favorite websites and look for the RSS logo as you see below—or for the word feed in the site footer.

An orange arrow points to the RSS logo in the footer of a web page. The RSS logo looks like a dot with two concentric quarter-circles above it and to the right.

If you don't see that, there are a few ways to find the RSS feed on any site. If you have a bookmarklet or browser extension installed for a feed reader app like Feedly, press it while visiting a site to find its RSS feed. Or, drag the RSS autodiscovery bookmarklet from Laughing Meme to your browser's bookmark bar, and click it to see the RSS feed as in the screenshot above. Another way is to open the webpage's source from your browser's Inspect Element menu option, and search for type="application/rss+xml" or feed, and you'll likely find the link.

Or, you could start out with the RSS feed for the Zapier blog, if you'd like:

  • The Zapier Blog: https://zapier.com/blog/feeds/latest/

2. Make an RSS Zap

The trigger step of an RSS Zap in Zapier showing fieds for the feed URL, a username and password, if applicable, and the trigger information.

Now, we'll add the RSS feeds to a Zapier workflow. Open Zapier, create a free account if you don't have one yet, then click the Make a Zap button in the top left corner.

Select the RSS app, then you'll need to choose the correct trigger for your needs. If you want to follow multiple RSS feeds, select the New Items in Multiple Feeds option. Or, to follow only one RSS feed, choose the New Item in Feed trigger, and click Continue.

Setting up a trigger for new items in multiple feeds. There are spaces to add several feeds to the Zap.

You'll now paste your RSS feed into the Feed URL box. If you're using the New Items in Multiple Feeds trigger, a new line will appear each time you add a URL, letting you add multiple feeds. Tap the X button if you need to remove one.

Click Continue again, then test the RSS connection to make sure Zapier can copy new posts from your RSS feeds.

Tip: If you have a private RSS feed, perhaps for an internal company site or a subscription-based blog, you may need to enter the username and password for the feed as well—and for that, you'll need to use the single feed New Item in Feed trigger.

3. Filter your RSS feed posts (optional)

A Filter step in Zapier showing fields for setup and testing, including the condition to filter by "Title," the restriction "(Text) Contains", and the specific text to look for "Trello."

Want to only get certain posts in your combined RSS feed? The next step is to filter your RSS feed, so you'll only get new posts that interest you. This is an advanced Zapier step—one that requires a paid Zapier account, so if you are using Zapier's free plan you can contact our support team and mention this article to activate a new 14-day trial to try this out.

In the Choose App part of your Zap, select the Filter app. There, we'll have Zapier watch your post titles for the keywords you want to follow.

Say you only want to read posts about Trello from the Zapier blog. You'd select Title in the filter's first menu, then select (Text) Contains, and finally type Trello in the last field.

Want to watch for multiple things, perhaps either articles about Trello or Salesforce? Click Or, and add a new filter to also watch for Salesforce articles. You could click And instead to watch only for articles about both Trello and Salesforce.

Want to only read articles from specific authors? Select Raw Author in the filter's first menu, and then add your favorite author's name.

Learn more about filtering data with Zapier.

4. Add your filtered posts to a new RSS feed

Setting up an RSS action step. In an action step, you will see fields for the feed URL, the feed title, the maximum number of records to be returned, and the title of the item in the feed.

Now you need a way to read these filtered posts. Add one more step to your Zap, this time selecting Zapier's RSS app once more. Choose Create Item in Feed to build your RSS Superfeed.

First add a Feed URL—this is the new RSS feed you'll follow to see your filtered posts. You'll get a default Zapier URL like https://zapier.com/engine/rss/111222/, and then you'll add your own suffix to it, perhaps "superfeed".

Tip: Copy this link and save it in your favorite note-taking app or a new document so you'll have it whenever you want to share or subscribe it.

Mapping fields in the Zapier editor, bringing in items from a prior step, like the item title, source URL, and content description.

Give your RSS feed a name in the Feed Title field. Then click the Item Title field, and select the post title from your RSS feed. Repeat that for the Source URL and Content fields, selecting the Link and Description fields from your RSS feed, respectively.

If the sites you follow often publish long posts, you might want to select Yes in the Automatically Truncate Messages over 10KB option as well. You can also fill in any other fields for your RSS feed—but that's enough to get your feed working.

5. Begin using your Zap

With that, your filtered RSS feed is ready to use! Once it's live, open your RSS feed reader, and subscribe to the RSS Superfeed link that you copied previously.

Don't stop there!

Now that you've got a Zapier-powered RSS Superfeed, it's time to put it to work. Zapier has hundreds of triggers and actions for over 750 apps, so you can build the wildest RSS app ever imagined.

You can add alerts to your RSS feed to get notified via email, SMS, or push notification whenever a new post comes in.

Send new RSS feed entries via email

Send new RSS feed entries via email
  • RSS by Zapier logo
  • Email by Zapier logo
RSS by Zapier + Email by Zapier

Or you could add other apps to your RSS feed such as Pocket and Evernote or posts from social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Then check out Zapier's RSS integrations for other great ways to use your new RSS Superfeed.

Continue reading

Post originally published March 20, 2013; updated in March 2017 by Matthew Guay, and on May 11, 2021, by Tyler Robertson to include Zapier's latest interface and features.

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