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Tweetie for Mac OS X: TUAW Hands-on


When Tweetie for the iPhone was released late last year, many users begged for requested a desktop version for OS X. Today, Atebits complied and publicly launched Tweetie for Mac OS X.

When it comes to desktop Twitter clients, Mac OS X has a pretty great selection (especially when compared to our Windows and Linux friends). Just off the top of my head, I can list: Nambu (which Mat reviewed last week), EventBox, TweetDeck, DestroyTwitter, Twhirl, Lounge, and of course, the original, Twitterrific. While all of these apps vary in features and interface, the trend seems to be that the more advanced apps all use Adobe AIR, rather than Cocoa. That's not necessarily a good thing.

Adobe AIR has great potential, but when it comes to something like a Twitter client, I prefer native apps that don't hog my memory (and I have 4 GB of RAM, but TweetDeck and others have total Firefox complexes). Fortunately, Tweetie for Mac is both native and feature-rich.

Check out the gallery and read on for more details.

The Look:

Tweetie for Mac is a really, really pretty app. The elegance of the iPhone app was refined and extended to the desktop. The dock icon and menu bar status icon aren't Iconfactory-worthy (but then, very little is), but the app itself is beautiful and sleek.

You can adjust the size of the text in tweets from 10pt to 14pt and adjust the height and width of the app with a certain amount of fluidity. Rather than having buttons on the bottom of the app, which is how many other Twitter clients work (and how Tweetie for the iPhone works), panels on the left-hand side dictate what you see.

You can access your timeline, any @messages, direct messages and search. Additionally, there is support for multiple accounts (yay!), and clicking on an account's avatar switches to that account.

Double-clicking on a tweet displays a full conversation (if one exists) and right-clicking a tweet lets you repost (re-tweet), reply, copy the link to tweet, add as a favorite, direct message or open in a browser. Switching back to the timeline after playing around in another area takes you to where you last stopped, with any new content auto-refreshed (on a 5-minute, as far as I can tell) auto-loaded and accessible by scrolling above.

Double clicking on a user's avatar takes you to their timeline and their mentions (or @replies), and also gives you the option to follow or unfollow.

The whole interface is pretty slick. To create a new tweet, either click on the tweet button at the bottom of the app, or enter ⌘N (CMD-N). You can choose what account to send a tweet from using a dropdown menu at the bottom of the tweet.



Direct messages are displayed in bubbles like in iChat, which is neat.

The menu bar icon turns blue when you you have new information in your timeline, replies tab or direct messages. Already, plenty of users are asking for Growl support. I turn Growl support off in Twitterrific, so it is really going to be depend on your individual workflow.

Advanced Features

Multiple accounts is one of the marquee features of Tweetie for the iPhone, and it is just as nice for Tweetie for the Mac. Handling multiple accounts on the desktop is generally a cumbersome process (there are exceptions) that I usually avoid -- using my iPod touch to access secondary accounts instead. Tweetie for Mac makes handling multiple accounts easy, and tweeting from various accounts easy as well. If I want to retweet something from my @film_girl stream to @theflickcast, I can do that.

In addition to multiple accounts, having the ability to search Twitter from within the app or go directly to a certain user will make TweetDeck fans happy. The ability to save searches isn't available right now (though I wouldn't be surprised to see it added in the future), so heavy TweetDeck users won't be completely appeased.

One of my favorite features of Tweetie for Mac is the universal Tweet shortcut. I've mapped mine to ⌘T (CMD-T) so that I can quickly tweet no matter what app is currently in focus. I've also mapped hiding Tweetie to Shift-Command-T, so that I can hide the app when it isn't in use. This helps me be more productive. TweetDeck is nice, but I always get the feeling that I'm spending all my time staring at Twitter, instead of you know, working.

For fans of user groups, Tweetie doesn't have any implementation the way Nambu and TweetDeck do. I've been clamoring for user groups in Twitter for over a year, and while it would be nice to see an implementation in Tweetie, I'd actually rather see the implementation in Twitter itself first.

You can choose what URL shortening and what photo-appending service you want to use with Tweetie. There's also a nice Tweetie-bookmarklet available here.

Final Thoughts:

The separate window approach for tweet creation isn't going to appeal to all users. It doesn't bother me, but I can see plenty of people preferring the attached-window approach of Twitterrific. Likewise, although there are keyboard shortcuts to reply and re-post tweets, access other areas of the interface and whatnot, I hadn't found an easy way to hit the "send" button on a tweet without using the mouse until other people began mentioning the CMD-Return shortcut today.

Overall, I'm really pleased with Tweetie for the Mac. After using it for the better part of the weekend and playing with version 1.0 this morning, this is really shaping up to be a great app.

Tweetie for Mac is $14.95 US (introductory price through May 2, 2009) for an ad-free version; an ad-supported version is free (similar to Twitterrific's pricing option). Tweetie requires Mac OS X 10.5 (Intel or PPC) and is available now.

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