Four Desktop Twitter Clients

Now that you’ve signed up for Twitter, you are probably looking for some enhancements to the user experience. Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is a fantastic tool, but once you have more than a few followers, its nice to have some extra features. Twitter desktop clients are built with this purpose in mind and help you get the most from twitter, especially if you have multiple accounts (for example one social, one busines, one for just family etc). Choosing a desktop client for microblogging and twittering can be tricky because there seem to be so many out there. Here are 4 of the best free clients that I’ve used.

Twhirl – Marketed as “a social software desktop client”, twhirl promises to help you keep track of your social media accounts on Twitter, Friendfeed and Seesmic, though it was originally developed for twitter and in my opinion this is where it really excels. It has some handy features such as automatic shortening of URLs and the ability to connect to multiple accounts (for example if you have a personal and business twitter account, there is now no need to log out and log in multiple times in the day.). There is also a neat search facility to find tweets that mention your twitter username.

Snitter, another application that was developed using Adobe Air so it runs on both Mac and Windows machines. Again it is a free application. Snitter touts itself as being able to do things like highlight messages sent to you with the @ syntax, clear your list of tweeets. Snitter doesn’t have multiple user support anymore which makes it slightly less usable than Twhirl in my book, but probably its best feature is the view and filter friends feature which becomes very handy if you have lots and lots of friends on Twitter.

Spaz – probably the coolest named, Spaz is aimed more at the techie crowd, being open source and actively encouraging development. It uses Javascript, XHTML and CSS. Again it has a URL shortening service and a good directory listing of users you are following. The biggest problem I have with Spaz is that they say it was built simply to build it, with no specific purpose in mind.

Tweetdeck though still in beta is a promising product – works on Mac, Linux and Windows and has a host of features. It is slick and allows easy management of your twitter conversations (those with @replies in them). It also has the ability to create groups to allow you to easily follow your friends. TweetDeck allows you to view trending topics nicely as well which is a pretty cool feature and also gives you the option of previewing short urls – nice! Again you can manage multiple twitter accounts.

So, which should you try? Well I would say if you are new to twitter then look at Twhirl or TweetDeck – these two are the most functionally complete in my opinion. TweetDeck is technically still in beta so you might prefer the slightly more mature Twhirl. If you are a developer, however and you are likely to want extra specialised features then look into Spaz for its open source approach. Snitter has a nice front end, but ultimately the lack of multiple account support lets it down – it is fine though if you only have one twitter account.