03:49 PM

Review: Tweetie, A Sweet Twitter Client For Mac

An alternative to the clutter of desktop Twitter apps such as TweetDeck, Tweetie packs a lot of power beneath its sublimely simple, cheerful interface.

You can also configure a universal keyboard shortcut to start a tweet from any application, even when Tweetie is running in the background. I'm using Cmd-Shift-T for that. Another universal keyboard shortcut will show and hide Tweetie -- handy if you're using a laptop with a small display.

And you get your choice of link-shortening and image posting services. Dragging an image to Tweetie automatically posts it to your image-posting service of choice, and adds a tweet with a link.

It does have some shortcomings, however, in addition to the multiple-account problem I noted earlier.

No Groups; No Tag Clouds

While you can search Twitter from Tweetie, you can't save searches between sessions.

I don't like the way it handles retweets -- it automatically appends "(Via @sender)" to the message, rather than the more Twitter-standard way of starting a re-tweet with "RT @Sender."

Tweetie doesn't support groups. TweetDeck and other Twitter clients let you create separate groups for real-life friends, co-workers, people who live local to you, or any other way you care to organize the people you follow. I don't use groups all that much, but I know other people find them important, and those people will find TweetDeck disappointing.

The thing I miss the most from TweetDeck: Its tag-cloud, showing the most popular topics on Twitter at the moment. It's an at-a-glance way to see what the top breaking news stories are around the world and in the tech industry. With Tweetie, you can see trending topics by clicking the search tab, then clicking on a drop-down menu of searches; that's nowhere near as convenient as the TweetDeck tag cloud.

Also, while Tweetie's notifications are good enough, I'd really like to see Growl integration, so I get a little bubble pop up on my desktop whenever I get an @mention or a DM. (Does any Twitter client do that?)

Overall, A Tweet Deal
Despite its drawbacks, Tweetie is a terrific way of accessing Twitter; it's simple and powerful, and available in two flavors. There is the free, ad-supported version. And the ad-free version comes with an introductory price of $14.95 through May 4, $19.95 afterwards.

UPDATE:In an e-mail, Tweetie's developer responds: Difficulty registering multiple accounts is a known bug to be fixed soon. Until then, he suggests hitting the "return" key after entering the password, rather than clicking the button to add the account. I tried it out and it worked great. He says Growl notifications are coming soon, with even greater granularity than what I asked for in this review. Likewise, he says, using "RT" for retweets will be an option.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the business uses of social networks. Download the report here (registration required).

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