How to add an authenticated RSS feed in Mail for OS X 10.5

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We're a little Basecamp-crazy over here at Social Signal, and a lot RSS-crazy. So the fact that Basecamp spits out a handy RSS feed that updates you when your projects to much as twitch is, to us, a Good Thing.

But I've never been able to make reading the Basecamp feed a frictionless part of my daily workflow. That's why I was intrigued by one of the new features in the latest version of the Macintosh operation system, OS X 10.5 (known to its friends and marketers as Leopard).

The new version of Mail included with Leopard allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed right alongside your email messages. Which looks like a perfect solution...

...until you try adding the Basecamp feed.

Basecamp, being a secure site where you can plan projects without worrying that the world is peering over your shoulder, very sensibly password-protects its RSS feeds. Mail, unfortunately, is baffled by feeds that require authentication. (And what's worse, it doesn't tell you that's what's the matter.)

So what's the solution? Thanks to the fertile mind of one Kanuck54, a user on Apple's support forums, there's an easy way to get around Mail's minor failing:

The trick I found is getting the authentication information into your keychain.

You can open Keychain Access and add it yourself, but the easiest way is to set Safari as your default RSS reader, open the RSS feed with Safari, and when you enter the username and password tell it to add it to your keychain.

Then go ahead and add the feed to Mail (note the link in Safari to do this doesn't work), and give it permanent access to the keychain entry. Everything should now be good to go.

I tried this without setting Safari as my default RSS reader; the tip worked fine.

And by the way, Safari turns out to be a bit of a Rosetta Stone (that's this kind of Rosetta, not that kind of Rosetta) when it comes to figuring out how to make Mail jump through fiery hoops while juggling kittens and singing The Girl from Ipanema. Check out this tip on including HTML and CSS – including handy things like links to external images – in an email signature.


Monsieurgerard says

January 27, 2008 - 11:54pm
I'm using 3.1 on Leopard. Subscribing to password-protected feeds works pretty good. All you need to do is adding your login credentials to the URL string, e.g.: Cheers Bastian

Darren Marshall says

March 13, 2008 - 12:01pm
Unforunately, it doesn't look like this works if you are logging in using OpenID. I have multiple accounts (Basecamp, Highrise, and Backpack) therefore am a proponent of OpenBar. Any work around for this?

Rob Cottingham says

March 13, 2008 - 8:51pm

There, I'm afraid, I'm stumped. (I have a nagging suspicion that, unless OS X starts supporting OpenID authentication, you're hooped for the time being - short of changing your account to a username/password setup.) Readers, any ideas? 

Talkrhubarb says

May 9, 2008 - 4:22am
And have my username and password clearly visible in the url ? Yikes! Have I missed something or doesn't that defeat the main purpose of an authenticated feed, i.e. security?

Josh says

November 9, 2008 - 4:06pm
Worked like a charm, thanks for the post! Same with my Freshbooks RSS feed.

Rob Cottingham says

November 11, 2008 - 10:22am
Terrific, Josh!

FatherShawn says

January 29, 2010 - 5:03am

This post solved a major irritant/road block trying to use BaseCamp's RSS feed for me. Thank you!

Craig Hoffman says

February 4, 2010 - 11:16am

Many thanks. Your authenticated RSS hack for Mail worked wonderfully.

Rob Cottingham says

February 4, 2010 - 10:02pm

Great to hear, Craig!

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