Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
There are a lot of us who still use desktop email clients. If it’s Windows, there’s a high chance that it’s Outlook. Now, Outlook users have a peculiarity. They hate to leave Outlook and go elsewhere for their other communication needs. And sometimes, Twitter begs you to tweet. The damn thing is so addictive.
I may be atypical, but sometimes I hate to leave Outlook and switch on something like the excellent TweetDeck or any other dedicated Twitter clients. I have nothing against these excellent Twitter clients but maybe it’s just my laziness rearing its ugly head. For me, the idea is to keep every communication in a central place as far as possible.
A Twitter add-in that allows us to tweet from within Outlook is the need of the day. OutTwit answered that need and then it changed its name to TwInbox. The free TwInbox comes with better features and usability. From the looks of it, TwInbox is a perfect marriage of Twitter and Outlook. But is it harmonious enough? That’s what we aim to find out with a few test tweets.
TwInbox (ver. 22.214.171.124) at just under 1MB is a small enough install for Outlook 2003 and 2007. It takes its place on the Outlook toolbar. Now, you can update your Twitter status directly from Outlook.
Getting to Know TwInbox
TwInbox has a configuration wizard that helps you take the first steps with this Twitter client for Outlook. You have to give it your Twitter account information of course. Select a folder where your tweets will be kept.
After you have given TwInbox the basic info (TwInbox supports multiple accounts), here’s how the Options box looks:
You might want to personalize the tweet update frequency (Automatic Updates) and a setting like – Preview Shortened URL. The other setting which really helps me is assigning a shortcut key via the UI tab. That allows me to speedily bring up a new tweet window and retweets too.
TwiInbox Calls On the Power of Outlook
TwInbox creates folders to store the tweets. You can specify how the folders are to be created. For example, you can create separate folders for different types of tweets (direct messages, mentions, etc) or you can put it all in one folder. With TwInbox you can also create individual folders for each sender.
Just like Outlook, you can create Search Folders to filter and display tweets from specific senders, or only tweets that contain a particular word, or match any other criteria using Outlook filters.
The Search/Track/Group feature of TwInbox is a tool to get familiar with if you want to organize all your tweets. The powerful feature can be used to direct incoming tweets to specific folders. Also, if you want to keep a record of your sent or received tweet then the feature can be used thanks to the search operators that are used by Twitter. See the Twitter list of.
Work Your Tweets Just Like Outlook Messages
Just like Outlook messages, you can click on the column header and rearrange your tweets alphabetically. Just like email messages, you can sort tweets according to various criteria.
You can search through your entire sea of tweets with the same Outlook search or any other Inbox search you use.
You can go in for Outlook’s Mailbox Cleanup and Auto-archive items which are older than a set number of days. (Right click on the TwInbox folder ““ Properties – Auto Archive).
TwInbox supports all the usual Twitter commands like d username, @username, follow username, and leave username. You can also use Outlook’s Reply or Reply All buttons to send forth your tweets. It’s much faster if you use the shortcut keys.
When it comes to picture attachments, you need to just highlight any email in Outlook and upload the picture that’s attached to the highlighted email. You can also browse your computer and pick up a picture from there. The attached picture is tweeted via TwitPic, Posterous, or Twitgoo.
TinyURL support comes with Twinbox. Paste any URL into a Tweet, click a button, and it’s shortened. You can use your own Bit.ly account by giving the log-in details in the Preferences dialog.
If you are the statistician, or just want to see who the top Tweeter in your inbox is, use the Stats button to display the column graph. You get it for the day and the month.
For me, TwInbox is a productivity tool more than a simple Twitter app. It nearly makes Outlook a single window console for all net chatter. What’s great is that TwInbox design is in sync with the way we use Outlook, so old habits don’t have to die hard. It might lack some advanced features like scheduling for future tweets or manage Twitter lists, but for day to day uses it just suffices.
What’s your impression? Comment or tweet to let us know.