Reading protected LiveJournal entries via RSS

This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on July 8, 2004). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

Being able to subscribe to an RSS feed for any LiveJournal weblog by adding /rss to the end of the URL is all well and good, but I’ve been grumbling for a while that the downside to that is that it won’t let you read protected “friends only” entries, as by pulling the RSS feed you’re not actually logged into the LiveJournal system.

Well, many thanks to Phil for pointing out a trick he picked up from Brent Simmons — if you add /rss?auth=digest to the end of the URL, and include the standard HTTP authentication at the beginning of the URL (username:password@ between the protocol and the server address), then the RSS feed will include the protected entries.

In other words, using my LiveJournal as an example (even though it doesn’t have any protected entries, it’ll work for demonstrating the URL changes)…

  1. LiveJournal URL:
  2. LiveJournal RSS feed: (which actually maps to
  3. LiveJournal RSS feed with protected entries:

Update: It appears that at some point over the past few months, ending the URL with ?auth=digest is no longer necessary. Simply using the string (where the first ‘username’ and ‘password’ set are yours, and the second ‘username’ is that of the journal you’re reading) seems to work fine.

NOTE: This is not a technique for “hacking” LiveJournal to allow you to read protected entries that you would not otherwise have access to! All this does is allow you to ‘log in’ to LiveJournal via your RSS reader so that you can read your friends protected entries just as if you were logged in to the LiveJournal web interface. I do not know of a way to read protected entries that you have not been granted access to, and I’m not interested in trying to find one.

iTunes: “Getting Snippy With It” by Rollins, Henry from the album Talk is Cheap, Vol. 1 (2003, 6:48).