Do you use the News app on the Windows 8 Start screen? If you haven’t yet explored its capabilities, you might be surprised by what it can do. For example, it can be configured to fetch only the news you are interested in and it can filters out the stories you don’t want. Here is a guide to adding topics and sources to the News app and configuring it to work the way you want it to.
There is more to the Windows 8 News app than meets the eye and it has hidden features you may not have discovered. It has topics and sources and if you aren’t sure what these are or how to configure them, let's take a tour around the app.
The News app has topics, sources, categories and sections. To be honest, it is hard to make sense of them all and they can be confusing to deal with. Add that to a sideways scrolling screen, which seems strange when everything else (web pages, documents and so on) scrolls vertically, and a confusing menu system that has you going around in circles, and it’s not hard to see why some people avoid it. Fortunately, you can make it work the way you want it to.
Open the News app on the Windows 8 Start screen and it shows a main news story followed by groups or sections of news stories on a particular subject. There are top stories, entertainment, sport, technology and so on.
Right click an empty space on the screen and click Topics – the tile, not the arrow next to it. We'll look at the arrow later.
This may show a Microsoft news topic, ignore that if it is there and click the ADD A TOPIC tile.
You can then type in any word or short phrase you would like to see news stories about. Scroll all the way to the right and add another topic in the same way. You can add several topics. You can think of a topic as a keyword search. The News app will search for the word or phrase in news stories and it will only display those that contain it.
After adding your favourite news topics, you will have a screen containing news stories about them organised into sections with one for each topic. Remember, to get to this Topics screen right click the News app's home screen and click the Topics tile.
Topics are useful, but they are separate from the main news and they require extra clicks to show them. Why would you want to hide them out of sight where they are hard to get to? This is an odd feature of the News app.
Click the back button in the top left corner or start the News app and you’ll see the regular news stories, seemingly organised into topics. This is a bit confusing, but if you wanted to keep two different sets of news feeds you could create the second one as a series of topics.
Right click an empty space on the News app home screen and click the Topics button and click the little arrow to the right of the Topics tile. This lists the individual topics and you can then then click one of the topics to see news stories on that subject without the distraction of all the others.
Return to the main news screen, right click an empty space and this time click Customise in the bottom left corner.
This displays a screen that shows tiles representing the different parts or sections of the home screen. If you don't like a section you can click the cross icon to delete it. If you don't like the order in which they appear you can click and drag a section left or right to rearrange them.
If you click Topics, you can add a topic in the same way that we added one before and it could be a keyword or phrase such as Gardening, Astronomy, Football or whatever subject you are interested in. Click Topics and add as many topics as you want. They are added as sections to the end of the list as extra tiles, so scroll all the way to the right, then click and drag the topics you added to the start like this:
Here NASA and Astronomy topics have been added and dragged up to the front. Adding topics this way, adds them to the News apps home screen news feed and so they are easier to access. These home screen topics can be the same or different to the other topics we saw earlier, which is a bit confusing.
There is an option to add sources. Click it and there is a list of categories, such as sport, technology, science and so on. Select a category and a list of sources is displayed. Choose Science for example, and there is the Discovery Channel, Nature and New Scientist (sources may vary according to where in the world you live).
Click a source and it is added as a section in the home news page. There are lots of categories and sources, but the home news page can become too wide if you add too many and it is tedious scrolling sideways too much.
In addition to topics and sources, you can also add RSS feeds. Many websites have RSS feeds and it is a special file format that contains summaries of news stories. You’ll have to track them down on the websites you are interested in, then right click them and copy the link address.
After copying the link address, add a new section in the News app as before, but this time click in the box where it says ‘Type a topic, source or RSS URL’ and press Ctrl+V to paste in the URL:
After adding an RSS feed address you'll see a tile to the right of Sources. Click the tile's plus button to add it as a section to the News apps home screen news feed. Drag the section to the the position you want it to appear. You can add as many RSS feeds as you want.