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ambient twitterYou’ve probably heard of the new Twitter for Mac Twitter for Mac and the New Apple App Store [Mac] Twitter for Mac and the New Apple App Store [Mac] Read More , which is super shiny and has amazing bells and whistles. Well, one of the great things about Twitter for Mac is the integration with Growl which integrates Twitter’s stream of information into ambient updates for you while you get on with other things. Personally, I think Twitter and Growl were meant to be together.

Sadly, if you’re not using Snow Leopard there’s no way you can use the new Apple store to get your copy of Twitter for Mac. It’s only a small upgrade from Leopard, but when you’re using Tiger it’s a bit much for just a Twitter client. So, what can you do instead? Well, you can use a mix of Twitter clients to get the best results.

You probably already have a favourite Twitter client for viewing your lists and latest updates. Stick with that for your everyday usage. We’re going to add a little trick to your set-up so that you’ll have Growl updates (or similar) as well.

Firefox & Growl

If you’re a Firefox user, you’ll be able to use Growl with Twitter by adding the FireStatus extension. Ostensibly, the FireStatus add-on is for being able to update your social networks from the status bar. But you can also use it as a handy way to get Growl updates for Twitter (and FriendFeed).

ambient twitter

Once the add-on is installed, setup of accounts in FireStatus is straightforward. You’ll see the FireStatus icon in the status tray (bottom-right of Firefox) and can right click it to access preferences.


get twitter updates

Ensure “Receive Updates” is checked for Twitter in your FireStatus preferences.

get twitter updates

If you haven’t installed Growl yet, you can find it here for free. Then just ensure Growl is turned on by going to “System Preferences > Growl > Start Growl”. It should look like this when it’s running.

get twitter updates

Growl can also be adjusted using different styles of pop-up bubble and different positioning on the screen.

twitter updates

This is all you need to get Growl showing you all the Tweets from your timeline, which will cover all the people you follow on Twitter.


FireStatus isn’t available for Chrome, but there are a few similar Twitter extensions you can use. The simplest one to try is Chromed Bird.

ambient twitter

When you set up Chromed Bird, you’ll be able to follow a given Twitter list and it will notify you using Growl-like pop-ups of any new Tweets in that list. Being able to limit the notifications to just one list is extremely useful if you follow a lot of people.

Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the pop-up positions or style for Chromed Bird as you can for Growl.


Another similar way to achieve ambient updates with a browser extension is to try Echofon, which is covered in detail here.

Thoughts on Ambient Twitter Updates

Obviously, these Growl and Growl-like notifications are not an ideal way to ensure you’ve caught all the tweets, which is why you’d use your normal Twitter application as well, but they are a useful way to keep your ambient awareness of Twitter news up-to-date as you work on other things.

What other Twitter applications do you use? Do you prefer Growl updates or do you prefer to use Chromed Bird’s list-limiting feature? Let us know in the comments!

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