What Twitter Application is Right For You?

Nisha Chittal is a student who blogs about politics, social issues, twenty-something life, and technology at Politicoholic. Follow her @nishachittal

(Editor’s Note: This post was submitted prior to the changes at Twitter.com in regards to @replies versus @yourusername and how it handles that. Please take that into consideration when reading!)

When I was new to twitter, I had no idea what I was doing — as is the case for most people when they first sign up. After I started following a few people I noticed all the different applications their Tweets were coming from: Twhirl, TweetDeck, Twittelator, Twitterific, PowerTwitter, TwitterFon, the list goes on. How do you sort through all of them and find the right application to use? Is any one of them better than the others? After trying nearly everything, I have a few ideas as to how to find the right Twitter app to suit your needs.

What’s the difference?

Web: probably the most widely used application Twitter is through the simple web interface at Twitter.com. Upsides: simple, clean, and easy to use. Downsides: crappy link shortening, so you have to go shorten links somewhere else; can’t see @ mentions of you; can’t easily retweet; and if you follow lots of people it’s easy for tweets to get missed.

PowerTwitter: PowerTwitter is a Firefox add-on that allows you to still use the web interface, but had additional features such as including Facebook status updates, allows you to see all @mentions, allows easy searches, photos, easy link shortening. Upsides: includes a lot of the features that the web interface misses. Downside: still have to go to twitter.com in your browser to use it.

Twhirl: Twhirl is one of the most popular desktop clients for Twitter, and has a running stream of Tweets that updates every few minutes so you never miss a thing. Upsides: constantly updating stream, catches all @replies. Downsides: no groups or other advanced features; pretty functional.

TweetDeck: TweetDeck is another one of the most popular desktop clients for Twitter. The main function that distinguishes TweetDeck is its ability to let you create groups and add your favorite Tweeters to these groups. Downside: clunky, large, takes up whole screen; often takes a while to update DMs. Upside: easy organization of groups, can incorporate facebook statuses, catches all @mentions

iPhone Apps

If you’re an IPhone user, there’s tons of different apps out there; I can’t possibly cover them all in this post, but I’ll cover some of the most popular:

: By far one of the most popular. Heavy on the features; allows you to tweet from multiple accounts, easy organization of tweets, replies, and DMs. Upsides: has almost every feature you could want. Downsides: costs $3; doesn’t cache Tweets.

Twittelator Pro: Referred to by Gizmodo as the “Big daddy” of Twitter iPhone apps. Has almost every feature you could want: search, custom groups, multiple accounts, check nearby tweets, etc. Upside: every imaginable feature. Downside: cost, and also freezes up often Cost: $5. There is also a free version of Twittelator available with less features.

Twitterific: Presents all incoming Tweets in a single stream, including @replies and DMs. Upside: extremely easy-to-read stream of Tweets. Downside: Since its focus is more on reading than doing, it lacks other major features. Cost: there’s a free version and a $10 version — but both are similar

TwitterFon: one of the most full-featured free apps. Upsides: allows TwitPic, search, easy-to-read layout, fast load time. Downsides: no multiple accounts or themes.

BlackBerry Apps

TwitterBerry: Is the most widely used Blackberry app. It’s free, but has limited features. Upsides: allows Twitpic, organizes DMs and @ replies and timeline. Downsides: doesn’t show @mentions, no groups, no multiple accounts

Other mobile phone apps

TinyTwitter: will work on any Windows mobile phone, smartphone, BlackBerry, or other Java-enabled phone.Has most basic features, although you cannot follow new users.

PockeTwit: also works on any Windows Mobile phone or Smartphone; popular with Windows Mobile users. Upsides: search, link shortening, multiple accounts, free.

Some questions to ask yourself

1. Are you using Twitter a lot at work, and/or working from home? Then you might want to check out the desktop applications like Twhirl and TweetDeck.

2. Do you want to see particular people’s Tweets without having to swim through the rest? Then TweetDeck might be your best bet so you can create groups.

3. Are you only interested in checking Twitter a limited number of times per day? Then the web interface or PowerTwitter might be for you. If you like constant updates throughout the day, go for Twhirl or TweetDeck.

4. Are you constantly on the go? Then a mobile phone app is for you. Consider your budget and how often you like to Tweet per day when choosing a mobile phone app.

No matter what your working style and Twitter style — there is definitely a Twitter application out there that fits your needs and style. Try a few out and see what works for you!


  • April 7, 2009

    A good article but some information is a little out of date or inaccurate.

    Mentions are now available on Twitter.com, through the previous @replies link (now @username), but it’s really buggy and often hours behind.

    TweetDeck allows you to tweak Twitter’s API usage so if your direct messages are taking a long time to arrive you need to adjust that in the settings. If you close TweetDeck’s default Reply pane and instead set up a search for your username (i.e., @sheamus) you can reduce TweetDeck’s Reply API to zero, which saves masses of API for everything else and means you’ll never run out of API again.

    The best Twitter app for Blackberry is not an app at all – it’s http://dabr.co.uk. Just point your BB web browser there and you have a full-featured Twitter portal that tracks @replies properly (RTs, mentions etc). If you must have a downloaded app, I personally think TinyTwitter is miles better than the very overrated TwitterBerry. But nothing is as reliable, fast and well-specced as Dabr. Even Twitter.com is unbelievably sparse and limiting in comparison.

  • April 7, 2009

    I am new to Twitter and really looking for something similar to this. Thanks Nisha. Great collection of Twitter Tools!

  • April 7, 2009

    I use tweetdeck. It suits me perfectly. I have also downloaded twhirl and destoytwitter by I still prefer tweetdeck. I also use sideline from yahoo. Its easier to search topics with it. It allows be to keep up with trends

  • April 7, 2009

    hootsuite.com is a great utility for managing multiple Twitter accounts. It also offers a way to track which links you suggest are clicked.

    twitscoop.com has cloud results and charts trends. Keep refreshing it and the terms grow and shrink.

  • April 7, 2009

    @Sheamus, and for anyone else since I’m sure it’ll come up — you’re right about the Mentions thing. This post was written and submitted several weeks ago, before we knew Twitter was going to update their system to catch all mentions. Sorry for the oversight, but I didn’t know in time :)

  • April 7, 2009

    I second that! My apologies for not making any mention of it in the post – but yes, this post was submitted to us on March 24th, which was prior to the changes at Twitter. Please do not let this poorly affect your opinion of Nisha’s writing! :)

  • April 7, 2009

    Tweetdeck works best for me! I became a Twitter addict out of using it, so guys please stay away!

    And personally I dont recommend Firefox Twitter Add-ons, They make FF a lot bulky, its ok if you have good System resources though.


  • April 7, 2009

    Tweetdeck all the way! Its so great and makes tracking all the info on twitter much easier. Once you get your columns setup well it has almost to much info to handle!

  • April 7, 2009

    Anybody with a symbian phone such as the E series or N series check out http://mobileways.de/gravity. The best twitter application for s60 hands down!

  • April 7, 2009

    I greatly appreciate not only this write-up, but the entire blog. Your information is invaluable during this time of incredible social media growth.

    My recommendation for the best Mac OS X desktop client software is Nambu. I feel it is superior to any other desktop software out there including TweetDeck.

    For the iPhone, I’ve tried them all and emphatically recommend Tweetie.

    Keep up the GREAT work!

  • April 7, 2009

    @Nisha No offense meant. And hardly your fault if it was submitted two weeks ago.

    @Lara Tsk! ;)

    Moving on I think TweetDeck is far and away the best app. It makes Twitter much, much better. Twitter.com, even with the recent changes (most of which are quite buggy, as above), is a very limiting experience. TweetDeck needs 1GB of memory to run properly (mostly due to Adobe AIR’s limitations). I have a Samsung NC10 netbook and it runs like a dream on that.

    It would be mad advice for 99% of other web services, but I urge anybody who only uses Twitter.com to look elsewhere, specifically at TweetDeck. You won’t regret it. :)

  • April 7, 2009

    I am looking for a nanoblogging app suitable for mice, that will automate my coffee status updates and let me know what Michelle Obama is wearing today!

  • April 7, 2009

    I agree, my personal favorite is TweetDeck all the way. Takes up a lot of memory, but it’s dead useful.

  • April 7, 2009

    I like the organization of this post. I have a post at: http://www.rachel-levy.com/confused-by-all-the-twitter-application/ that lists other Twitter apps. I update it weekly, as the list seems to be never-ending!

  • April 7, 2009

    Have been using Twhirl since started. Was quite impressed with this user-friendly gadget. Best for those who’s longing for a simple control & interface. However, as the followers increased, it may be a little hard to trace back the conversations; Tweetdeck, in another hand provides grouping option & split screens, along with proper search tool to trace tweets. It’ll be my next pick when the following/followers exceed my control limit.

  • April 7, 2009

    TweetDeck is the right application for me. I hear from people that it takes a lot of memory. I have a good performing system. So it is not an issue for me. Maybe there is some less resource intense application like utorrent for torrents. Here uTwit for twitter (I dont think such an application exists. just my wild wish!!!)

    On the whole twitter apps and twitter itself is a great way. I was amazed when darren followed me. never expected him to do that. Well, I take it as a positive side to my online blogging career. The first celebrity who followed me was carl ocab who is a kid blogger who started his online riches when he was14 years old.

    Coming back to twitter apps. i have used Twhirl once or twice. Didn’t like it. Hope someone releases a twitter app for my n73 so that I can access twitter from my mobile. Anyone has any idea about the applications available for n73 based on twitter? just now noticed twe4ked’s comment. Thanks twe4ked. i will look into the applications.

    I am a part time blogger concentrating on business tips. You can follow me at twitter

    regards Adarsh

  • April 7, 2009

    Everybody forgets / overlooks Android? Best twitter app for Android is Twidroid – http://twidroid.com

    As for mac or just desktops in general, I use Tweetdeck as it helps handle the madness and the built in searching is awesome.

    There’s also a great up and comer that’s showing a lot of promise for a desktop app – Called Kerplunk! – http://getkerplunk.com
    I’ve played with the alpha and it’s more of a framework with modules, twitter being the first one but it’s looking to be much more powerful than tweetdeck and the others. Just showing some great promise. Thx

  • April 7, 2009

    This multiplatform client really suits me:
    Although still in beta and with lots of additional settings in progress, with only 16 mb of your precious RAM

  • April 7, 2009

    @Rachel — I will have to check that out. I agree, the list is never ending… there’s always new apps coming out!

  • April 7, 2009

    oh wow Nisha, congrats on getting such an awesome site. I knew from the first moment I met you that you were going to be doing big things.

    Here is the video interview I did with Nisha Chittal. I hope everyone likes it and I would love to hear any suggestions that you may have for our show.

    - Jun

  • April 7, 2009

    Twitterberry also now picks up mentions rather than just replies. I use it and like it, but one big downside is that it seems very slow to load messages at times.

  • April 7, 2009

    Hi in my case i use twiterific and twhirl they are great for me, but the best of doz two are twhirl let me do a lot of this different that twiterific.

    Than you for the pots.

  • April 7, 2009

    One thing that put me off getting Teetdeck for a while was the huge black window – then I got it and discovered the colours are full customizable. Great!

  • April 7, 2009

    I usually use the regular old @ twitter.com but I’m thinking twittelator pro would be good for what I’m trying to accomplish might give it a run and $5 isn’t much..even though it is a recession..:)

  • April 7, 2009

    You left out the best of ‘em all: iTweet.net. It’s web-based, it auto-refreshes, it has a button you can click to see what tweet a reply is in response to, it has easy retweeting, on and on.

  • April 7, 2009
    Bill Taroli

    I might point out another solution that isn’t a web page or a client in the usual sense. I have been trying and really enjoy the XMPP gateway being offered by http://www.tweet.im/. I can tweet and follow in an IM chat window alongside all my other IM activity. Sure, it doesn’t thread and whatnot. But if you just want a simple stream and you have at least two twitter users, it’s quite nifty. :) Combine it with an always-on mobile IM client and it’s pretty darn sweet, IMO.

  • April 7, 2009

    Uhm you forgot Twidroid for the G1. And we have a widget called aHome QuickTweet.

  • April 7, 2009

    I think Twitter users need to use both a desktop app and a mobile app to be effective on Twitter. I use a combination of Tweetdeck (Desktop) and Twitterfon (mobile) for my tweets.

  • April 7, 2009

    Twhirl is my weapon of choice. Just sayin’…

    It’s because it only takes up a small portion of my desktop and I can work on other projects whilst keeping an eye out for business opportunities on the stream.

  • April 7, 2009

    I do not use TweetDeck anymore because of the amount of memory it consumed on both my mac and windows machines.

    Been using DestroyTwitter and am very happy with it.
    Am also trying Nambu.


  • April 7, 2009

    I have been using TweetDeck for processing all my overnight tweets first thing in the morning, then TwitterFox (Firefox plugin) for getting updates and posting tweets throughout the day.
    TweetDeck is great for organising your users into groups, while TwitterFox is a handy unobtrusive plugin (stays out of the way until you need it) that notifies you of tweets instantly, and allows you to quickly and simply post tweets – who it’s really bare bones in features. Great for beginners in my opinion.

  • April 8, 2009

    Don’t forget about TwiDroid of android phones such as HTC G1. I have tried all the twitter apps for android and twidroid is the best – Get your copy at the market or twidroid.com

  • April 8, 2009

    I enjoy using Twhirl myself, seems to be fairly efficient for resources (currently using 83.5 MB RAM on my laptop) and is easy to learn to use, like the Twitter website itself. I think it only works on Windows though because of Adobe AIR.

  • April 8, 2009

    For Android G1 phone, Twidroid is the best full featured Twitter mobile client as of now. For a complete review on Twidroid, see “Top Android Social Networking Applications” under http://mymobilecorner.blogspot.com.

  • April 8, 2009

    Don’t forget about Accessible Twitter for those with disabilities, or for anyone who wants a clean, easy-to-use web client.

  • April 10, 2009

    As an update to some of the comments in this article. Tweetdeck got a major update the other day.. One of the things that has been resolved was the amount of memory that it needed to run.. this has been fixed, and it makes using Tweetdeck far easier.

    In response to @sheamus regarding tweaking the Tweetdeck API for replies. that is a good idea, however, if you then find tweets with your @name in, that is fine, but if they are replying to tweets that you have sent, you cannot follow the thread of the conversation, as it will not show you what they have replied to…



  • April 18, 2009
    Mike B

    It’s not very full featured, but it is still very new. There’s a plugin for the Pidgin IM client, microblog purple that lets you connect to Twitter and it does have links to set favorites and re-tweet. So, if you like to put all your conversational type of traffic in one spot, it’s good.

  • April 20, 2009
    Eko Prabowo

    great collection as i use twittelator pro in my Iphone..i suggest twitterfox to use in firefox, its very simple and easy to use.

  • April 26, 2009

    I’m new to twitter can any one tell me is there any app for a Samsung Tacco so i can tweet on the move and were I can get it?


  • March 14, 2010

    I am new to twitter and i’m trying to figure things out also. But so far the best cell phone twitter account i’ve found is called Snaptu. It has Face book, twitter and more.

  • March 30, 2010

    Ubertwitter is the best + its free! :)

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