Tweetbot has long been our favorite Twitter Client. And with Tweetbot 2, it continues to be the best way to use Twitter on a Mac. The latest version of Tweetbot brings an updated design to match OS X’s new aesthetic, while retaining the powerful options many Twitter users crave.
Twitter has become an indispensable tool for millions of people each day. It’s part news outlet, part water cooler, and part gossip column. It’s the social network many of us check countless times a day on our phones and computers.
Twitter the network and Twitter the company are two different things, and the latter has made some decisions with its first-party apps that many users don’t like. Tweetbot for iOS is the best way to tweet and interact with other users on the go, but there’s a lot of competition in the space.
Tweetbot is the best Twitter client for the Mac
On the Mac, it’s a little bit of a different story. In our estimation, Tweetbot is really the only good choice for the discerning users.
It comes at a cost, however. Tweetbot for Mac is over twice the cost as the next-best app, Twitterific, and they both compete with free applications, and of course, the web. If you’re the type of user who wants the best client, regardless of cost, Tweetbot 2 for Mac is for you.
Setup & Third-Party Services
While OS X can store and use Twitter credentials for things like Share Sheets, Tweetbot can’t tap into them; instead, the app sends users out to the web to authenticate when adding accounts:
Once an account is set up, there are numerous ways in which the settings for that account can be tweaked:
The application can use many third-party services for various types of tasks:
- Custom (in which you provide the app with an API endpoint)
- Safari Reading List
With Tweetbot available on both OS X and iOS, the app can sync things like read status and timeline position via iCloud or Tweet Marker.
Notifications & Settings
If you’re like me and manage multiple heavily-trafficked accounts, having fine-grain control over notifications is key to a usable Twitter client. Thankfully, Tweetbot has just what the doctor ordered.
That screen may be a tad confusing, but in short, on a per account basis, you can select what type of notifications you’d like to receive on your Mac:
- Mentions from people you follow or all mentions
- Direct Messages
Selecting the last checkbox, All Tweets will result in a push notification for every tweet from accounts you are following.
Use it with caution, or your Mac may just explode into a cloud of notification dust.
You can also select which accounts can turn the menu bar icon blue (if you have the Show Menu Bar Icon option selected in General settings) or put a badge on the application’s Dock icon.
Speaking of Tweetbot’s General settings, everything from font and thumbnail size to quote format and avatar style can be edited easily to tailer the UI and experience to your taste.
Timelines & Columns
The timeline, of course, is the heart and soul of the Twitter experience. It’s where you read, reply, RT, and fave things as they stream by.
Down the left side are controls to navigate from the main timeline to Mentions, DMs, Favorites, and more. (Pro tip: visit the Window menu for keyboard shortcuts to jump into these different timelines.) The main section of the window is composed of tweets, with new ones loading in at the top.
Tweebot can stream new tweets as they come in, automatically scrolling your timeline as new content is published by those you follow. This feature is nice, but it can be distracting, as you’ll see the timeline move out of the corner of your eye if you’re working in another open window.
Hovering over a tweet exposes ways to interact with it, including Reply, Retweet (or Quote), Favorite, and Share (think: Read it Later services). Lesser-used tools are hidden behind the gear icon.
If you want to see more than a single timeline at once, click the small button at the bottom of the dark part of the main Tweetbot window to open additional columns.
The controls for this are a little confusing at times. If you’re viewing your Replies, for example, and choose to “Open in a New Column,” the view will change, adding a new column to the right with your Replies in view, but the main column won’t go back to the main timeline. It can be used for the main timeline, however, as the view used for the first column can be changed.
Once it’s setup, this mode can be useful. For example, I can have the main timeline, Mentions, and a saved search for “RelayFM” open all at once:
Conversations & Profiles
Following a conversation in Tweetbot is easy. Simply click on a tweet and the app will pull in any tweets in the thread in chronological order.
Likewise, clicking on an avatar will load a user’s profile, nicely formatted with their information and a gird of recently-shared media at the bottom:
Editing your own profile is easy in Tweetbot 2. Simply navigate to it, and click the Edit button in the upper-right corner of the UI:
Note you will have to visit the Twitter website to edit your banner image, as this isn’t supported in the 3rd-party API at this time.
As important as reading tweets and conversations is, actually tweeting is a huge part of any app experience. Tweetbot has a lot of nice tricks rolled up its sleeves when it comes to communicating in 140 characters.
If you begin to type a username, Tweetbot will attempt to auto-complete the name from a list of users. You can use the arrow keys to drop down and select the user you intend to mention:
If you reply to a tweet, Tweetbot will include the users mentioned, with secondary users’ names highlighted. While at first this seems like a weird trick, it’s actually quite clever.
If I start typing in the window pictured above, the TSS account will just mention @ismh in the reply, and drop @shawnblanc from the thread. This would give me more characters to reply with, and keep the chatter down from the point of view of someone who may get swept up in a conversation they aren’t really a part of. However, if the TSS account wants to mention @ismh and @shawnblanc, it’s as easy as clicking off the highlighted word or using the right arrow key to move the cursor.
Adding media to a tweet is simple. Clicking the gear icon in the bottom-right of the New Tweet window reveals a menu to add images or videos using whichever upload services have been configured in settings. Additionally, media can be dragged into this window from Finder, and Tweetbot will upload it and insert a link without using the gear icon and subsequent menu.
Likewise, attaching a location to a tweet is simple. If Tweetbot has been granted permission to use OS X’s Location Services, clicking the map pin graphic will allow Tweetbot to ping your location and attach that data to your tweet as well.
Muting & Lists
From time to time, a user, hashtag, or phrase may temporarily take over your timeline. Tweetbot includes a feature named Muting, which removes tweets completely from your timeline based on person, keyword, hashtag, or even Twitter client, for durations of a day, a week, a month, or forever.
The last item in the timeline controller is a speech bubble with an X drawn in the center. Clicking on it brings up the Mute Filters view. There, you can add keywords, etc., you’d like to mute, as well as edit existing mute filters.
If you’re in any of the timeline or other views, you can mute a user by right-clicking on their profile image. If there’s an automated tweet you’re just tired of seeing, you can mute that client from the conversation view by right-clicking the via (client name) detail.
If you are a Twitter lists user, Tweetbot has a couple of nice features for you. You can create and follow lists easily, as well as edit members of any particular list. However, you cannot fully replace the main timeline with any list.
Tweetbot ships with more features than any other Mac Twitter client, but the $9.99 price point may turn some users off. In that case, there are two alternatives worth looking at.
At $4.99, the venerable Twitterrific is cheaper than Tweetbot, but the Mac app has grown a little long in the tooth. Many of the great features of the iOS version like a customizable UI, muting and streaming aren’t present on the desktop version.
If Tweetbot’s price or complexity are too much — or you really like a unified timeline with all of your mentions mixed in — Twitterrific is still worth looking at, but we’d love to see it caught up with its mobile sibling.
Twitter for Mac
The app formerly known as Tweetie has languished after becoming the official, first-party Twitter client for the Mac. Even in 2010, the lack of updates was a concern, but in the time since, the app seems to have continued to lag behind third-party clients.
The big upside here is that the app gets the job done for free. While simple, it’s completely functional, and if you don’t care about bells and whistles, you could do worse.
Most Mac owners are discerning users of consumer technology. We care about the fit and finish of things. We understand what Steve Jobs meant when he said “Design is how it works.” Through that lens, using Tweetbot 2 for Mac is a no-brainer. It offers lots of power and options in a customizable, handsome interface. If you use Twitter on your Mac, this application deserves a spot in your Dock.