Focus with NetNewsWire smart lists


Focus with NetNewsWire smart lists
Mac Tip #322, 23 January 2008

Would you like to easily follow any mentions of the iPod touch, or perhaps Lhasa Apso dogs, in the RSS feeds you’ve subscribed to? Or how about mentions of your favourite sports team, or a certain politician?

NetNewsWire has a very useful feature called Smart List that helps you do this.

I follow more than 200 RSS feeds on about a dozen topics, but I’m particularly interested in any mentions of iPod, Apple computers, and my name. I use Smart Lists to identify, gather and highlight posts on those topics.

When I come to read RSS feeds I call up those focused lists on the topics that specially interest me, then read other posts later, if I have time.

Set up a Smart List

To set up a Smart List go to the File menu and choose New Smart List….

The Smart Lists appear at the top of my list of feeds in Screenshot 1 (enlarged in screenshot). In the centre column you can see a list of 53 unread posts on many different topics.

Screenshot 2 shows my ‘Apple’ Smart List. I’ve set it to pull out any posts whose Title, Description or Summary contains ‘Apple’. It has found 4 out of my 53 unread posts.

Give your list a name and then choose the criteria you want to use. You can use information from the Title, Summary, Description, Link, Subject, Name and many other elements of a post.

Use the second pop-up to choose how to match: contains, does not contain, starts with, and so on.

In the empty text field enter the text you want to match.

Click OK to save your choices and dismiss the dialog box.

Simple or complex matches

I find these simple choices work well for me. Occasionally a post about exports of apples (the fruit) to Australia get mixed in with stories about Apple Computers, but that happens so seldom it’s not worth my time to set up a more complex match.

To set up something more complex, click the + sign at the right-hand end of the match row. This adds another row. Fill in the details as required and be sure to choose from ‘All’ or ‘Any’ from the pop-up that appears above the detail lines.

‘Any’ creates a widely-matching, loose OR type of match: this thing OR that thing.

‘All’ creates a closely focused AND type of match: this thing AND that thing.

In my third screenshot the post must contain both ‘Apple’ in the Title, Description or Summary and Macintosh in the Description.

Refresh the feeds

Connect to the Internet, then go to the News menu and choose Refresh All Subscriptions. Posts that match your conditions will appear in the Smart Lists.

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