no doubt that
Twitter has become a major player in the world of social media.
In fact, it's pretty much at the top of the heap of the various
microblogging services available on the Web.
And with good reason: Twitter is easy to use and the breadth
and depth of posts is something to see.
power user (or a power user wannabe), the Twitter Web interface
leaves a bit to be desired. It's fine for reading and posting
messages (called tweets in Twitter-speak).
But the interface is lacking in a lot of ways. If you
to, for example, send a message to another Twitter user or
retweet (repost an interesting message), then you
have to remember a keyboard command and/or do some copying and
pasting. Why do that, when you can use graphical tool that gives
you point-and-click access to all the Twitter functions you need?
And a few more to boot. There a number of desktop clients for
Twitter, and a few Web-based ones too.
This TechTip looks at four of the more interesting Twitter
clients out there. All of them are free, and they work on
computers that run Linux, Mac OS, and Windows.
Going minimal with Qwit
While somewhat barebones,
Qwit (an Open Source Twitter client) fills in a lot of the gaps
of Twitter's Web interface. And it's easy to use. Qwit has a
interface that seems to be popular with desktop Twitter clients, and
other kinds of desktop apps too. There are seven, to be exact – for
updates that you and the people you follow have posted, for messages
that you've sent and have been sent to you, to do a search, and one
tab each for all new posts to the service and for specific Twitter
feeds that you want to pay particular attention to.
While I'd like to get rid of a couple of the tabs, there isn't a way
to do that. A minor annoyance.
But the real flexibility is on Qwit's Home tab.
That's where you view your posts and the posts of those you're
following. You can type an update at the top of the Qwit window, and
you can even attach a photo to a tweet. The photo doesn't go to
Twitter; it's uploaded to a site called
TwitPic and linked to your tweet. On top of that, long URLs are
Every update on the Home tab has three additional
buttons which allow you to reply to a tweet, repost it, and to send
the poster a private message. It's a lot easier than remembering
Giving twhirl a whirl
might remember a
TechTip that looked at a technology called Adobe AIR. One of the
great things about AIR is that it make it easy for developers to
create software that interacts with Web applications. Twitter is no
twhirl is one of the first truly cross-platform AIR apps that
I've used. Other applications, either Twitter clients or apps in
various other categories, either didn't work under Linux or were
With twhirl, you can post, reply, retweet, and send direct messages
all by clicking on an icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the
twhirl window. You can view the people you follow and who follow
you, and search for specific Twitter users. You'll need to know
their Twitter user name, though.
As well, twhirl shortens URLs with a click – that's great for
posting a long link that cuts into Twitter's 140 character limit. As
with Qwit, you can share photos in a tweet by uploading them to
TwitPic from within the app.
My only gripe with twhirl is that its interface takes some getting
used to. It's obvious what some of the icons in the twhirl window
do. Others you're not so sure about until you click them. I'd also
like URL shortening to be automatic, but clicking a button to do the
deed isn't all that onerous a task.
Don't tweet, twait instead
Twaitter is one of the growing number of Web-based Twitter
clients. But Twaitter goes further than other desktop and online
Twitter clients with a few features that power user and businesses
will find useful.
Like any other Twitter client, Twaitter enables you to read and view
tweets, send replies, retweet messages, and view and send private
messages to other Twitter users. You simply go
www.twaitter.com and log in using your Twitter user name and
But Twaitter has one feature that's sets it apart from all
other clients. That feature is the ability to schedule
tweets. Using Twaitter, you can write tweets ahead of time
and let them appear on Twitter at specific times and dates. This is
useful if, for example, you're doing a marketing promotion and
to leak details on to Twitter without it seeming like you're
To use Twaitter, all you need to do is type your tweet. Then, click
the twait button. Choose the time and date one
which you want the tweet to appear and then click the
Schedule button. You can also tell Twaitter whether you
want the tweet to only appear once, or if it’s going to recurring at
One useful feature of Twaitter is that ability to edit a
tweet. Even the best of us succumb to the typo bug. If
you've entered a tweet in Twaitter, you quickly fix a typo or an
error. To do that in Twitter's Web interface, you need to delete the
tweet and then resend it.
If you don't want to worry about fiddling with a browser to get to
Twaitter, you can always bring Twaitter to your desktop using
Prism (software that creates desktop shortcuts for opening Web
applications in their own windows).
Add TwitterFox to your browser
As long as that browser's Firefox. Why install yet another piece of
software on your computer when you can make Twitter a part of your
browsing experience? That's what
It's an add-on for Firefox, the popular Open Source browser.
While Qwit is fairly bare bones, TwitterFox is downright minimalist.
After installing and configuring TwitterFox, an icon (the stylized
Twitter t) appears in the lower-right corner of the
Firefox interface. When updates from the people you follow are
available, the icon displays how many updates there are. Click the
icon to open the TwitterFox window.
TwitterFox window contains three tabs. The main one lists all
updates that you and the people you follow have posted recently. The
other tabs list any messages in which you're mentioned (what Twitter
@mentions) and private messages that you've sent or received.
There's also a small area at the bottom of the window for entering a
TwitterFox is easy to use, but not always intuitive. A part of that
comes from its minimalism. If you want to reply to a tweet, you must
hold your mouse over the tweet. A curved arrow appears. Click the
arrow, and go from there. On top of that, there's no button for
retweeting a post. Instead, you right click a tweet and choose
Retweet from the menu that appears. That right-click menu, by the
way, also enables you to copy tweets and to delete any of your own
The integration with Firefox goes a little further than TwitterFox
simply being spawned from the browser. In the bottom left of the
TwitterFox window is an icon that looks like a bit of chain. Click
that to include the URL of current tab in a tweet. If, with the URL,
the tweet is over the 140 charactewitterr limit, TFox will shorten
the URL using the popular
Good desktop (or even Web-based) Twitter clients give you a lot of
flexibility and a number of features that are just not found at the
Twitter site. They make tweeting faster and easier.