Kiwi: The Cute & Versatile Mac Twitter Client

When I first started using Twitter, I relied on the browser interface, and that seemed good enough. And then I discovered Twitterrific, which provided a better-designed and more enjoyable experience. And then I got an iPhone, and – as they say – that changed everything. After a few hours using the original version of Tweetie, I found it very difficult to use any other client, either on the desktop or my iPhone. Thankfully, not too long afterwards, Atebits released the desktop version of Tweetie, and all was well in Twitterland.

This status quo remained for a long time: Tweetie on iPhone, Tweetie on desktop. But then things changed. Specifically, Twitter bought Tweetie. A few months passed, and then a new version of the iPhone app was released. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t like it – but I know I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. The King had been deposed. A recent update to the desktop version changed little, and I found myself wanting a change – I decided to leave behind the world of Tweetie-now-become-Twitter…

And so began a quest for a new Twitter client – really for a clutch of Twitter clients: for iPhone, Macbook, and iPad. This market is pretty full now, and I’ve tried most of them. Here I’m going to give a tour of Kiwi, which is a fairly recent addition to the list of desktop apps available.

Looking Good!

Kiwi’s biggest selling point is its good looks, and the fact that you can easily change its appearance by choosing from a growing pool of themes, hosted on a dedicated website. A number of very talented people have contributed some great designs. This is the Milky theme, my current favourite:

Kiwi

Kiwi

Nice and clean, legible and stylish. What’s harder to demonstrate in a screenshot is that this theme – and many others – include some subtle animations; so when I mouseover a tweet, the message above and below it shift slightly, to show that it currently has focus:

Interface Close-up

Interface Close-up

Clicking on that small ‘reply’ tab on the right pops up a text entry box so that you can type your reply directly:

Replying to a Tweet

Replying to a Tweet

Otherwise, you could either click on the button at bottom-left or hit [cmd]+[n] to compose a new tweet.

Now, the problem with writing about an app that is so theme-based is that different themes can make it operate in quite different ways. Take, for instance, marking a tweet as a favourite: the Milky theme doesn’t display a star icon to make this easier, while many other themes do, among them Pushpin:

Alternative Themes

Alternative Themes

You can, of course, simply right-click on any tweet and you’ll receive a menu that includes an option for favouriting, or you could use a keyboard shortcut:

Right-Click Menu

Right-Click Menu

You can search directly from the main window, using the small search area at bottom-right.

Unread Tweets!

Unread Tweets!

Finally, you may have noticed that little fella in my menubar – he’s green to let me know that I have unread tweets:

Working With Kiwi

In use, Kiwi is very similar to Tweetie – I’m not suggesting that this new app copied the appearance or functionality of the older, but the truth is that Tweetie simply got most things right. Here you have buttons in the toolbar to switch between your Home, Retweets, Mentions, Direct Messages, and Favourites Timelines.

There are also keyboard shortcuts for each of these, as there are for most other functions (retweeting, marking as a favourite, refreshing, etc.), making Kiwi a great choice for keyboard addicts. And, of course, you can edit your toolbar to remove any of the Timelines that you don’t use (as I’ve done with retweets).

You can easily add a number of Twitter accounts to Kiwi, as well as setting up saved searches, and adding a Tumblr account in case you want to quickly repost anything you come across. If you have multiple accounts setup, you can use an Accounts window to switch between these, or just click on the avatar image in the toolbar to cycle through them:

Cross-Posting & Multiple Accounts

Cross-Posting & Multiple Accounts

I would love if Kiwi added support for a few of the other services that many iPhone clients now work with, especially Instapaper and Pinboard. I find it interesting that iOS Twitter clients are usually much more full-featured than Mac desktop clients. I assume developers decide that all these features are more easily accessible from your desktop browser, and so leave them out.

The one feature that I really miss – especially when I’m doing research on a particular topic – is the ability to quickly translate from within Kiwi (and this is true for every other desktop Twitter client I’ve tried, whereas it’s possible in many iOS apps).

Inline Images

Kiwi supports inline display of images – this is a great feature that allows you to see in a moment whether or not you want to click through to see a full-size version of a picture:

Inline Images

Inline Images

Growl Integration

Kiwi works with Growl to keep you up to date on any new activity. This works well, but it took me quite a while to work out how I could get more control over when I receive notifications: I don’t want to be disturbed every time somebody tells the world about a cute cat video.

But I do like to know when a friend sends me a direct message or a public reply. To fine-tune your preferences here, you need to go into the settings for each account, and then click on ‘Notifications’, and then you can get things set up exactly as you like them:

Notification Options

Notification Options

Once you’ve tracked down where to set things up to your liking, Kiwi actually gives you more control than most other Twitter apps.

Rules

Kiwi also includes Rules, which allow you to set up persistent responses to particular triggers – so you can have every Tweet that mentions a subject you’re interested in highlighted in red, for example. Or you could have Tweets that raise a particular issue hidden from view.

I’ve not delved into this feature at much depth, but I think it could be very useful if you’re a Power User in search of information on issues that interest you, or if you’re keen to thin out your Timelines.

A Few Issues

Other than the matter of a few tools I would like to have onboard (translations, in particular), I have a few other issues with Kiwi.

I can’t figure out how to view a user’s Profile. In Tweetie, that’s as easy as clicking on their avatar, and once there, you can click to zoom in on their avatar, view their recent Timelines, Favourites, and their Profile information. In Kiwi, clicking on a username or avatar takes you to that user’s Timeline, but you don’t seem to be able to get any further information, or take a closer look at how they’re representing themselves online.

Double-clicking on a tweet shows you a thread view, which works well, but then getting back to your Timeline doesn’t work so smoothly – neither the keyboard shortcut nor the toolbar button helps: you need to click onto one of your other Timelines and then click back to your Home Timeline.

And while Kiwi in many ways outshines another of its rivals, Echofon, what that app has that Kiwi doesn’t is its tight integration between its various versions. Okay, I know that Kiwi doesn’t have an iOS version (yet?), but Echofon’s synchronisation between Firefox, iPhone and desktop versions is a killer feature (sadly, the iPad version doesn’t currently sync with the others…). And this feature alone might lead some people to choose Echofon over Kiwi.

In Closing

Kiwi is a polished Twitter client with some really great features. It’s proved to be stable in use (it wasn’t a few months back), is great to look at, and will probably meet most users needs very well.

Do you have a favourite Twitter client? Let us know in the comments – we’re always pleased to learn about new apps, or to have holes in our knowledge of the app landscape pointed out.

With your help, we can give our readers the most comprehensive overview possible. And if you’ve some good advice to offer in my search for the perfect Twitter client, I’ll be very happy to hear it!


Summary

Kiwi can manage your tweets with rules and regular expressions, plus he can combine Twitter accounts to create personalized timelines.

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  • http://vitamincm.com Christopher Masiello

    Ian,
    This looks great. I can’t stand any of the desktop tools that I have tried so far. I use Twitteriffic on my phone and love the way it works. I actually find myself pulling my phone out while I’m at my desk, because it works so much better than TweetDeck and the rest.
    This is exactly what I’m looking for; a desktop Twitter client that works as well as the few good ones for phones.
    1 column
    Read from oldest to newest (easier to follow conversations)
    Simple and uncluttered
    Thanks a lot!

    Chris

  • Jim Brown

    Just started using Echofon and couldn’t be happier. Supports lists, has growl integrations and real-time streaming.

  • Matthew Lowery

    Just not powerful enough for me. Can’t even view peoples profiles, or even trending topics. UI is alright.

    • Will

      Besides, it’s incredibly ugly, and seriously, a separate window for tweeting? Somebody needs to learn unified interfaces.

  • http://twitter.com/Jacubot Jacu

    Bought this when it first came out and have been using it on and off since. I don’t really know why I can’t stick to it, but perhaps all the different themes available makes it too hard to figure out which one to like and use regularly…

  • http://www.practicallyefficient.com Eddie

    Thanks for this review.

    After Tweetie for iPhone and now Osfoora HD for iPad, all desktop Twitter apps seem really lacking. I tried Kiwi when it first came out, but there was no support for Twitter lists, so I never bought it.

    Most of the time, if I want to access Twitter from my Macbook Pro, I want to look at lists for reference purposes. So I usually just end up in the browser. Would love to find a light weight desktop app that supported lists.

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  • Wickedsp1d3r

    Echofon is my favourite Twitter client. Beautiful, simple interface, lightweight & nice search features. I think this app is unbeatable at the moment. Waiting for Tweetie 2.

  • http://nataliaventre.com Natalia Ventre

    The kiwi is very cute, but right now I’m using Echofon because it support retweets, lists and the writing panel is always present, with other Twitter clients, I had trouble finding how to post a tweet. I also like the integration with bit.ly and the buttons (favorite and reply) only appearing on hover.

    The Twitter website is getting better and they keep adding new features, I’m afraid to be losing something using a client…

  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au John Faulds

    I use Echofon too. I like that it integrates with the iPhone app and can remember where you’d got up to in your timeline on the desktop app.

  • Trendy Alien

    +1 Echofon for Mac/iPhone

  • yugushen

    I tried Kiwi before, but I use Echofon now. I think Echofon is better than Kiwi. It support retweet, list, user profile, thread reading, etc. Almost all the features I need for twitter. I also like the elegant interface of Echofon. Simple but efficient.

  • Wickedsp1d3r

    Just found this app, looks quite promising: http://hibariapp.com/

  • http://www.carterphotodesign.com bcarter

    I switched to Solcialite a while back and love it—just wish they had an iPhone app. I had been using Tweet Deck: http://www.realmacsoftware.com/socialite/

  • http://www.vivalamedia.nl Stefan Smit

    I’m a big fan of Hootsuite. Just because it’s not only working with Twitter, it’s suitable for Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.. also.

  • John Ahrens

    Kiwi looks nice I have been having some issues on iPad and wonder what have people been using on the pad. With the extra visual space there should be something that takes advantage of it.

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  • Donald Perreault

    I love Kiwi and am a registered user. Unfortunately I finally gave up on it because Kiwi has a problem retrieving tweets that are over 12 hours old. Therefore if you don’t launch Kiwi for a day or so you could miss 100′s of tweets. I have emailed and tweeted the developer but he fails to respond. He also very rarely updates Kiwi. I really liked the Rules and themes feature of Kiwi. Would move back to Kiwi in a heartbeat if the developer fixed the problem with the missing tweets.

  • roberto

    A bit OFF but maybe someone else is also interested. Where did you get your wood wallpaper? Looks really great.

  • PNikoBon

    I’m sorry maybe I’m missing something…why would we be upset??
    You have applied for a website…are you saying you have no special as is dictated by this website? If the position wants someone with the experience of working abroad and you fit that then whats the problem??

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  • EKianYou

    I’m a complete forum monk so tolerate me if it takes me a while to cast my way around this.

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  • SBunkNuz

    Hello. I’ve finally decided to enlist after being a long time lurker. Searching forward to some good chats!

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  • PElmoTii

    sees like an interesting page. Have come across the technical pages after while googling but never realised the place had other things.

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  • OHerbUod

    It substantiality to the creator because I actually change gear depending on criticism and I generally want to know who likes it.

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  • PHillXos

    The forum looks great, however I have just created a topic however then accidently eliminated it. How to I get it back? I deleted the actual thread box on the web page and I can’t where you can introduce it again. I am still able to topics new topic article furthermore they are not appearing on the site anywhere do to the fact I deleted the thread box?

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  • GAdanGip

    I have found this in other places but not found it here at all. Certainly not on the pages i tend to use. I think the blogs are mostly too big and too diverse in the sort of folks that everyone just enlists in if and when they feel the like the thread.

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  • QCoryYoz

    This page shocks me, I have lurked without articleing, or enlisting for a good long while.
    A teammate of mine said if you say something a bit wrong against a big team player, they will all get you killed.
    That actually worries me.
    How do I perceive who is in the as my brother says “the team from the other website?”

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  • OWongGer

    Is it probable to give some person else permission to create threads without them having access to the editor,exist a login or similar feature ? I have three webpages and don’t really wan to have to manage the themes but also don’t want several ‘faults ‘ happening too !

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  • XJoeyYof

    excuseme maybe I’m missing something…why would we be upset??
    You have applied for a page…are you saying you have no special as is dictated by this site? If the position wants someone with the experience of working abroad and you fit that then whats the problem??

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  • ZPurlRua

    I disagree completely. Try check outing the commentarys on a news site (CNN) that isn’t moderated as carefully as the news blogs are and see what happens when “grow ups” are allowed to speak freely.

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  • PDickKis

    I’ve been on here since March so I’m still a little bit new however not exactly shiny! And by the number of newss I’ve made since then you can see I really enjoy letting off steam on the forums

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