In recent years, countless Mac Twitter applications have sprung up seemingly in an instant and died just as quickly. One app that has stayed strong ever since the beginning of the Twitter application revolution is TweetDeck. Its powerful feature set and intense multi-column format, though hated by some, is still a favorite among many power users.
Today we’ll go over ten simple tips that will help new and advanced users alike get the most out of using TweetDeck as the ultimate social media application.
In case you’ve never heard of TweetDeck, it’s a Twitter-centric social media hub that utilizes a series of user-defined columns to separate content.
Though it’s certainly not for everyone, TweetDeck is one of the most advanced and fully-featured Twitter applications of its kind, especially in the free category. Be warned, if you’re a recovering Twitter addict, seeing all those columns for the first time might send you back into a downward spiral from which you will not easily recover.
More Than Twitter
Despite it’s Twitter-centric name, TweetDeck is a whole lot more than a simple Twitter client. In fact, you can add up to six different types of accounts to your TweetDeck columns.
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Buzz and MySpace are all supported in TweetDeck. Under Preferences, go to the Accounts tab and you should see a range of buttons for adding your various accounts.
Simply click a button to add the corresponding account. Then from the main interface, hit the little plus button at the top left to add a new column. You should be given various options for adding a column for any one of your connected networks.
For instance, let’s say I wanted to create a column that shows all the pictures my friends are uploading to Facebook. I simply click the “Add Column” button, navigate to the Facebook tab, then select “Photos” and hit the “Everyone” button.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to see everyone’s photos, you can create a select group of friends from which TweetDeck will pull for updates.
Have you ever had one of those tweets that you just can’t seem to squish down to 140 characters? With TweetDeck you can relax about that character limit and let it help you trim that pesky text until it fits.
Sometimes this service is helpful and sometimes it turns your tweet into a mess of jargon that only a text-messaging-addicted teenager could decipher. Either way, it’s fun to play with and can be useful at times.
Notable changes include changing words like “to” and for to their number equivalents (2,4), inserting ampersands, and ditching vowels when possible.
One of the first things I check on any Twitter app is whether or not I can view user profiles and timelines within the app (as opposed to simply linking to the browser). Many apps support only profiles or only timelines, others support neither. Since user profiles and timelines play a huge role in who I decide to follow and are therefore a key part of my Twitter experience, I simply refuse to use the otherwise solid Twitter apps that don’t support this functionality.
TweetDeck has impressively full support for profiles. You can view the user’s profile pic, real name, screen name, bio, location, website, number of followers, number of people they’re following, the number of lists the user is in and his/her timeline.
There are two primary ways to bring up a user profile in TweetDeck. The first is to hover over the user’s avatar in your timeline and click the “Other Actions button.” Then follow the “User” submenu to the “View Profile” option.
The second way to view a user profile is to hit the little compass button at the top of the interface. This seems like it would have something to do with location services but it is in fact a quick way to search for a list or user. Simply type the username you’re looking for into the box that pops up and you’ll be taken to the appropriate profile.
If you don’t like eating up your API calls with user profiles, there is an option in TweetDeck Preferences to force user profiles to open in your browser.
Translate That Tweet
It seems that several of the people I follow are intent on making me feel dumb due to the fact I can only tweet in one language (unless Ubbi Dubbi counts). Admit it, when you see a tweet go by in a language that you’re not fluent in, you can’t help but be curious about what it says.
Fortunately, with TweetDeck you can skip the language classes. Instead hover over the user’s avatar in your timeline and click the “Other Actions button.” Then follow the “Tweet” submenu to the “Translate” option.
Voila! Clicking that magical button will automatically turn you into a multi-lingual professional tweeter. Well, not really, but it will at least attempt to translate the tweet for you. I really like that I don’t even have to input a “to” and “from” language here. TweetDeck is smart enough to figure the details out on its own.
Track Your New Followers
When you’re creating a new Twitter column, TweetDeck gives you all kinds of great options. This includes the standard features such as mentions and DMs, as well as some third party services like StockTwits and TwitScoop.
One of my favorite options here is the “New Followers” column. As you’ve no doubt guessed, selecting this option will create a column that features users who have recently started following you.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the New Followers column shows each user’s profile pic along with their bio. Notice in the bottom right you have a couple of handy options for quickly following or blocking a user. This is a super quick way to add interesting followers to your list while ignoring obvious spam and other uninteresting accounts.
Sync Your Columns! Sometimes…
Once you’ve finally reached the ideal column setup in TweetDeck, wouldn’t it be great to have them automatically carried over to your iPhone and other TweetDeck locations?
It turns out all you need to do to accomplish this is set up a TweetDeck account. Then when you log in on any device you should see an option to bring over your columns.
To get your account setup, go to the sync tab in Preferences. Now do the same thing on the iPhone application and you should be ready to go!
Unfortunately, how syncing works in theory and how it works in practice are two very different things. Though many users experience zero issues with syncing, the rest of us see the screen below (no columns found) far too often despite the fact that we have in fact created new columns that we want to carry over.
Some days syncing works for me; today is not one of those days. If you figure out a way to bypass this issue, be sure to leave a comment below!
Sometimes seeing all those columns at once can be a bit overwhelming. When you’re experience TweetDeck overload, try switching to the single column view via the first button on the strip at the top right.
This view is a lot less busy and is much more like you find in other apps. To switch between columns you can still use the little icons at the very bottom. Hover over a column icon to see what it is and click on it to bring it up.
Note that the single column view works best if you don’t have the “narrow columns” option activated.
If you’re a fan of keyboard shortcuts you’ll be happier to know that you can perform quite a few TweetDeck actions without touching the mouse.
To get started, used the arrows keys to move around and select a message. Strangely enough, the H, J, K and L keys can also be used to navigate messages. Also, hitting the “C” key will bring up the compose window if it isn’t already activated.
To bring up the menu below, select a message and hit the space bar.
From here you can hit “A” to reply, “S” to ReTweet, “D” to DM, and “F” to favorite the message. Further, if you select a message and hit the period key, you can access the “Tweet” and “User” submenus.
Finally, hitting the “\” key will bring up the New Column window with a Twitter Search.
TweetDeck provides a quick and easy way to see what your friends are talking about via the little cloud button on the bottom of each column.
Pressing this will pop up a list of frequently appearing hashtags and links from all the users in that column. Clicking on any one of these items will quickly add a filter to the column so you can see who is tweeting that content.
Block Annoying Content
Don’t you just hate it when something “big” happens in the world like Justin Bieber getting a haircut or Lady Gaga accidentally going out in public dressed like a normal human being? Or even worse, when those crazy people that watch normal television start tweeting about the finale of your favorite show while you wait for it to hit Hulu?
Suddenly, your entire Twitter stream is filled with stuff that you simply don’t want to see. To stop the madness, check out TweetDeck’s global filter.
From here you can choose specific people, trends, words and sources to temporarily filter out of your columns. So the next time a famous diva shaves her head, you can tweet in peace!
Leave a comment below and let us if you found these tips to be helpful. Also let us know about your favorite commands or features that we might have left out.
If you’re a TweetDeck fan, be sure to take a look at the recently launched Seesmic Desktop 2, a very similar app with a shinier interface and a few tricks of its own.