It seems as though everyone today spends a lot of time looking for the best Twitter client for Mac OS X. There’s tons out there, each with their own unique feature set. Off the top of my head, I can think of Tweetie, Twitterrific, TweetDeck, Bluebird, twhirl, and Beak. So you’ve got all these choices, but which should you use?

Now before you go questioning why you should be taking my word for it, you should know that I have tried and tested each app referenced above (I have no life, I know) and have been able to identify the best and worst. For this article we’re going to put focus on the first two, which I believe to be the best – Tweetie and Twitterrific. So without further ado, let’s get right into this.

First up, Tweetie

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If you’ve ever heard the saying “Lead with your best foot forward!” then you’ll understand why we’re starting off with Tweetie. It’s fast, it’s beautiful, and above all it has the most complete feature set that I’ve come across.


A quick glance of the features:

  • Unified timeline that includes tweets from those you follow, and @replies sent to you
  • Separate tabs for @replies, direct messages, and search
  • Multi-account support
  • Threaded conversations and direct messages
  • View user profiles
  • URL shortening with bit.ly, TinyURL, is.gd, and tr.im
  • Direct image uploading to TwitPic, yFrog, img.ly, and Posterous
  • Built-in Retweet and Reply support
  • Mark tweets as favourites

Tweetie is one of those apps that you can lose yourself in for hours. It’s native OS X interface makes it feel right at home on your desktop, and it is incredibly easy to use. It’s very rare that you need to leave the comfort of your keyboard to access the commands and features.

There are a few things that make Tweetie stand out in my eyes. The first being built-in ability to retweet with the click of a button or a simple keyboard shortcut (Command + Option + R). It makes it extremely easy to share stuff with your followers that they usually wouldn’t see, which is one of the best things about Twitter itself. The second would be the separate tabs for replies, and direct messages. Having a unified timeline is nice and all (Which Tweetie does have), but that makes it extremely hard to find your older @replies. Having a tab is a great way to go back and re-read for whichever reason you’d want to. Another one of the biggest features for me is the ability to view threaded conversations (Like Twitter’s ‘in reply to’ links in the Web interface, only it shows all the messages at once).

The dark side *Insert epic Star Wars music*
With pros come the inevitability of cons. After all, nothing in this life is perfect right?

As a web designer and Apple junkie, I love minimalism, and it irks me that Tweetie isn’t very minimal. In fact, it takes up quite a bit of desktop real estate. You can only make the window so small, and even then it still takes up too much space. The inability to hide the dock icon adds to it’s large desktop footprint.

Twitter, Terrific, Twitterrific!

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Tweetie is the Twitter app that makes it’s presence known in your desktop environment. Twitterrific is its polar opposite. Twitterrific maintains a minimal interface and performance. It’s a powerful app that takes a backseat until you need to bring it forward to notify your followers of your daily musings.

The feature rundown:

  • Simple and minimal user interface
  • Multi-account support (I have yet to see this in Twitterrific)
  • Unified timeline that includes tweets, @replies, and direct messages
  • Unread tweets are shown in dock icon (If set to appear)
  • Automatically show the window when new tweets arrive
  • Single click access to user profile pages (Launches web interface)
  • Collapse tweets in timeline

Twitterrific is perfect if you’re like me and want a minimal desktop footprint. It’s extremely fast and features a clean OS X tooltip / HUD like interface. The ability to hide the dock icon and run Twitterrific from the menu bar is something that I find very valuable. Twitterrific also gives you the ability to auto-collapse all tweets, save for the one selected, in the timeline. I like this feature because it allows you to easily see who has tweeted, and when they did so.

Twitterrific’s product page over at The Iconfactory highlights the keyboard shortcuts as the biggest strength.

The unified timeline helps Twitterrific’s minimal appearance, but makes it very difficult to track your @replies and direct messages. Instead of switching tabs, a la Tweetie, you’re required to scroll your way through the list of tweets all the way to the end, where Twitterrific blindly sticks your older @replies and direct messages. The lack of built-in retweet support is another glaring weakness in Twitterrific’s UI. Mac OS X is all about ease of use, but you wouldn’t guess that while you’re copying and pasting your favourite tweets to retweet them to your followers.

Quick rundown of the rest

TweetDeck (view)
TweetDeck is an app that runs on Adobe AIR, and is perfect for those who want more organization that the average Twitter app offers. TweetDeck is built around the idea of a multi-column filing system, where you can group certain friends together (Twitter lists anyone?) and shun out the rest. The default layout shows a column for the main timeline, your @replies, and direct messages.

The user has the ability to add, remove, and rearrange columns as they see fit. I myself used TweetDeck to seperate those I follow into categories based on their niche (Designer, Coder, Apple, News, etc..). At one point I even removed the main column and replaced it with a group just of Twits that I wanted to keep up with on a daily basis.

Bluebird (view)
Bluebird is a standalone Twitter app that has a beautiful OS X interface. What sets this app apart from others is the theming capabilities. Bluebird supports XHTML and CSS theming to truly make your Twitter desktop experience unique.

twhirl (view)
Twhirl is another application that runs off the Adobe AIR framework. It has a UI very similar to that of Twitterrific, but sets itself apart with the ability to use built in themes. You can choose from a variety of different styles, my favourite being the Crimson style.

Beak (view)
Beak is a standalone Twitter desktop that sports a beautiful native OS X look and feel. It offers many of the features of Tweetie but adds a degree of minimalism. The tabbed interfaces helps you navigate between the timeline, @replies, direct messages, favourites, search, and stats. The tabs however are at the top, as to not make the window wide and clunky.

My favourite feature of Beak is the inline reply capabilities, which allow you to directly reply any tweet you see in your timeline.

So, captain, which will it be?

It’s always hard to pick a definitive answer when deciding between two great things, for example – Safari vs. Firefox, Coke vs. Pepsi, MacBook vs. PC iMac. At this point I’m using Twitterrific, but my indecisive self will likely switch back to Tweetie in a few days, and so on and so forth until Atebits and The Iconfactory join forces to create the perfect Twitter client. We can all dream, can’t we? Who knows, maybe I’ll even bust out Bluebird for a bit.

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