Even in 2016, ten years after Twitter’s debut, the service is as popular as ever. If you aren’t an avid Twitter user by now, you’re truly missing out.
But the age old question remains: what’s the best way to use Twitter? A lot of people stick to using the Twitter web app, which is fine if you aren’t following many people and only check in once every few days. But once you start getting more involved, it’ll just hold you back.
Here’s how to stay on top of Twitter on your Mac.
Use the Notification Center
If you use Twitter daily, you should consider dropping the web app and using a desktop solution instead. But before you look at the third-party apps listed below, use OS X’s built-in integration with Twitter for a week or so. It may be more than enough.
Starting with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, you can tie your Twitter accounts into the operating system itself and read incoming tweets or post new tweets right from the Notification Center. (Facebook and LinkedIn are supported as well.)
To set up your Twitter account, open System Preferences > Internet Accounts. In the window that pops up, click on + at the bottom of the left sidebar, then click on Twitter in the right area. Enter your username and password, then click Next, then click Sign In.
After the account is set up, open the Notification Center (Command+F8) and click on Edit at the very bottom. Add the Social widget to your Notification Center, then click Done at the bottom.
Now you should be able to open up the Notification Center, click the Twitter button, and effortlessly send out tweets. If you add multiple Twitter accounts to OS X, you’ll be able to pick which account you want to tweet from using the dropdown menu in the widget.
New tweets will also show in the Notifications section, allowing you to keep up with your Twitter feed without having to keep an app or browser open all the time.
Standalone Desktop Apps
If you’re a Twitter power user, then the OS X integration option is probably too primitive for your needs. It lacks a lot of the useful features that you could get out of a third-party app, in which case you’ll just have to bite the bullet and switch to one of these options instead.
1. TweetDeck (Free)
TweetDeck was bought by Twitter back in 2011, so you can think of it as the official app to use. Yes, there’s a separate app called Twitter which is actually official, but it’s so bad that you may as well consider it non-existent. Tweetdeck isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad either.
What’s nice about TweetDeck is its power-user-friendly interface. It may not be the cleanest or easiest interface to navigate, but you can tweak it to your satisfaction and shove a lot of information into multiple columns, making it easy to read whatever you need at a glance.
Compatible with OS X 10.6 or later. Check out these helpful TweetDeck tips to get you started on the right foot.
2. Echofon (Free, $10)
Echofon is a fantastic choice when you need a powerful client but want it to be as minimal as possible. No bloat, no excessive interface options, no clutter to distract you or overwhelm you. It’s a distillation of your Twitter feed that doesn’t sacrifice anything.
It’s really simple to use. The app is a single column with five tabs at the top: Home, Mentions, Direct Messages, Lists, and Search. Just switch between them to see the ones you need. If you need more info (like profile details on a certain user), a sub-panel appears with everything you need.
Echofon Lite is feature complete but has a single banner ad at the top. Purchase the app for $10 to get rid of it. Otherwise, feel free to use it forever without paying a cent.
3. Night Owl (Free)
Night Owl is similar to the aforementioned Echofon in that it’s a simplistic app with a minimal and easy-to-navigate design. In fact, the two are so remarkably similar that it’s hard to recommend one over the other. Between the two, just go with the one you like better.
Night Owl is a little more modern in appearance but also a little more cluttered. And like Echofon, a drawer pops out to the side when you request more information about a tweet or a user. Very nifty and packed full of useful features.
It’s completely free — no ads at all — but suffers from slow development, so some Twitter features may be broken or unsupported (such as quoted tweets). But for the most part, it isn’t bad at all.
4. Janetter (Free)
For a native client, Janetter is a bit rough around the edges. There are some interface quirks that make it obvious that this app needs polish, at least as far as its appearance is concerned. Feature-wise, it’s good enough that you’ll get by without missing out on too much.
But the interface issue is what keeps me from recommending it too highly. It’s fast, performant, and customizable to a degree — it just doesn’t feel good to use. Despite the dozens of themes available, none of them feel remotely professional.
At least it’s free! No ads and no premium version.
5. Tweetbot ($10)
Tweetbot is what the official Twitter client tried to be. Not only is it packed full of nifty features that you’ll love using, not only is it updated regularly to keep up with Twitter’s changing API, but it has the cleanest and most modern interface of any Twitter client on OS X.
The downside is that Tweetbot costs a flat $10 and doesn’t come with a free trial so you can’t really test it out beforehand. But you know what? If you’re serious about Twitter and you’re commited for the long term, then $10 is cheap. Tweetbot is absolutely worth that price tag.
How Do You Use Twitter?
Regardless of how you use Twitter, or which apps you use to keep up with your feeds, remember these tips for drawing new followers and always avoid these mistakes that could get you in trouble. In fact, you should also keep on top of these amazing tips that even the pros don’t know.
Don’t forget about privacy and security either. You don’t want to make any mistakes that will endanger you or your family, which could truly ruin your life with stalkers and doxxers. Have fun but be careful out there!
How do you stay on top of Twitter while using your Mac? Share with us down in the comments below!