How to edit or retrieve URL of RSS feeds in Apple Mail

For a company that prides itself on developing a the worlds most user friendly operating system and software, sometimes Apple gets it horribly wrong. Editing or retrieving the URL of an existing RSS feed in Apple Mail is, as far as I can tell, impossible from within the user interface of Apple Mail or anywhere else in OSX. How extraordinarily strange.

Today I wanted to do something I thought would be very simply. I want to more the RSS feeds I have in Apple Mail (about 12 of them) and put them into DevonThink. As mentioned above, I could find no way to gain access to the URL of each RSS feed. A search on the internet turned up a very useful solution to this odd design feature from Apple. I have provided instructions first for OS X 10.6.x (and earlier), and for 10.7.x (Lion).

In the title of this post I mentioned editing the URL. Actually, I’ve not yet found a way. At this stage it seems to require creating a new feed. But if you simply want to modify an existing feed you will, as far as I can tell, end up with the old feed items split apart from the new feed items. I’ll update this page if I find a way to edit a feed address.

Here’s how to do the undoable:

If you are using OS X 10.6.x
(Snow Leopard, and perhaps earlier versions too)

1) Open the Terminal application.
Simply type “Terminal” into Spotlight quick search (Command-SPACE usually pulls up spotlight quick search). Not familiar with Terminal? Well, to be blunt, Terminal is one part of OSX the average user should never have to deal with at any time. Sadly, Apple doens’t always get its concepts straight, and we have to venture into things like Terminal. It’s basically a doorway into the underlaying UNIX framework of OSX. It’s like lifting the hood on your car to tinker with the motor.

Terminal looks like this:

terminal example

2) In terminal type or copy/paste this command, and hit Return key:

for i in ~/Library/Mail/RSS/*/Info.plist; do defaults read "${i%.plist}" RSSFeedURLString; done

It will produce a nice list of the RSS feed URLs.

You can then copy and paste each of these into an application of your choice.

ALTERNATIVELY:

You can also paste this into terminal

pubsub --client com.apple.mail list

This will produce a list with RSS feed name and its URL. You will probably need to expand the Terminal window across the screen to prevent Terminal from line-wrapping the long feed details onto the next line (which makes them harder to read).

You can also use this in Terminal:

pubsub --client com.apple.mail list | cut -f3 | sed -ne '3,$p'

This will generate a list of the URLs like the first command I shared above.

If you are using OSX 10.7.x (Lion)

Follow the above instructions regarding Terminal, but paste in this command:

IFS=$'\n';for i in $(find ~/Library/Mail/V2/RSS/ -name "Info.plist");do grep "http://" $i | sed "s/.*\(http[^<]*\).*/\1/" >> ~/Desktop/Mail\ Feeds.txt;done

That should do the trick.

Comments

  1. Adrian says

    Brilliant, thanks. Finally feeling forced into upgrading beyond Lion and needed to get my feed links before they were lost forever now that Apple has decided to remove RSS from Mail.

    • Jonathan says

      Yes, well, Apple has a bad habit of removing useful features… without pre-warning their customers. Removal of offline iTunes to iOS syncing being the latest BIG feature drop.

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