Twitter: What started as an obscure and seemingly doomed social network has grown into a huge force on the web. Twitter is home to thriving communities of individuals forming lasting connections forged by 140 characters or less.
An important fuel to this fire is the remarkably open Twitter API which has allowed developers to create a plethora of beautiful and incredibly convenient desktop applications that connect with every facet of the service. This article is dedicated to all you readers who, like me, are completely addicted to two things: Mac applications and Twitter.
Note: All apps are free unless otherwise indicated.
Looking for a free Twitter app for your iPhone? Check out our roundup of 100 free iPhone apps over at iPhone.AppStorm for some really gorgeous budget-friendly iPhone Twitter clients.
To begin our list, here are some popular apps that run natively within the OS X environment (Non-AIR). Apps built in Cocoa tend to carry over the expected OS X look and functionality and therefore feel right at home running on your Mac.
“Tweetie is free to download and try for as long as you want. It’s full-featured and has some of the most beautiful ads around (courtesy of Fusion Ads). You can register to keep your timeline ad-free for only $19.95.”
“Nambu is good stuff. If you like Twitter but value a real OS X look and feel then give us a try.”
“An innovative new Mac Twitter client”
“The customizable Twitter client. Kiwi likes to spend a lot of time on your desktop, so we made sure he would fit in. Choose a theme or build your own — it’s easy.”
“Socialite is a beautiful Mac OS X application, designed to make it easy to stay in touch with the social networks and services that matter to you. From news on Digg, photos on Flickr, statuses and photos on Facebook and Twitter updates, to full Google Reader RSS syncing, Socialite keeps all your social networks in one convenient place.”
“Bluebird 1.0 Beta 3 is a beta release. It is for use by people not afraid of software that may have a few bugs in it.”
“Stay on top of your Twitter timeline with Echofon for Mac. The beautiful, subtle interface will be a welcome addition to your Mac’s desktop.”
“Twitterrific is a fun application that lets you both read and publish posts or “tweets” to the Twitter community website. The application’s user interface is clean, concise and designed to take up a minimum of real estate on your Mac’s desktop.”
“Syrinx is a fully customizable twitter client designed for Leopard (OS X 10.5+). Syrinx is built from two ideals: efficient workflow and customization.”
“Canary is a Twitter client that is beautifully designed, fun to use and has everything you’ll ever need.”
“Tastes are always changing, and there’s no reason why you should be locked into one specific look by your Twitter client. Twitt allows you to easily customize the way content is displayed, using easy to make (and modify) HTML+CSS themes.”
“Itsy is a small, simple Twitter app for your Mac. Itsy won’t hog up your screen or do other crazy things.”
“NatsuLion is a simple Twitter client for Mac OS X. The goals for NatsuLion are: Be simple, Feature icons, Easy to use for light Twitter users”
“YoruFukurou (NightOwl) is a native Twitter client for Mac OS X. You can filter tweets by defining rules with user IDs, keywords, and regular expression. The tabs are highly configurable, so you can tailor the application to your own needs. It is also possible to remove the filtered tweets from your timeline.”
“Buzzbird is totally free (as in beer and freedom). There are no advertisements, and it is completely open-source.”
“Pocket* is a Twitter client for the rest of us. Has Twittering turned into a chore? Get back to the simple ways. Pocket*; a Pleasantly Simplified Twitter Client”
“Pwitter is a simple and elegant Twitter client for Mac, that is written in Cocoa. The application runs on only Leopard at the moment. It seems to run fine on Snow Leopard too.”
“TwitterPod is a Twitter client with message store capability. The messages by your friends and by yourself will all be stored and displayed on an easy-to-navigate window.”
“A lightweight Twitter thingymbob.”
“Yoono is an easy to use application that allows you to connect to all your social networks and instant messaging services – in one place. Get all your friend updates, update your own status, and easily share stuff with your friends.”
“Twucket is a new Twitter client for Mac OS X Leopard. It’s designed to use a minimal amount of screen real estate, so you can keep an eye on your Twitter feed in a window small enough to leave open all the time.”
“Do you like Twitter? Do you like Growl? Try Trowel! It puts the two together! Trowel is a minimal twitter client that sends your Tweets to Growl. It’s designed to take up as little space on your desktop as possible. You can also post tweets from the status menu, with URL completion.”
Adobe AIR apps run just fine in both OS X and windows. Some of the best known Twitter apps are built in AIR, including TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop.
By far one of the most popular Twitter clients around. TweetDeck has tons of features, a multi-column layout, and both an accompanying iPhone and iPad app.
“Build your community in one central place with Seesmic Desktop, which integrates both Twitter and Facebook. This all-in-one tool makes it easy to reply to your friends and share text, links, photos and videos all in one screen.”
“DestroyTwitter is a compact though robust Twitter application built to run on Mac, Windows, and Linux using Adobe AIR. It consists of a series of canvases that constantly update to keep tweets up-to-date using notifications that appear when a new tweet arrives. DestroyTwitter uses a minimal amount of memory compared to its AIR-based alternatives without sacrificing functionality and performance. As a result, it can easily run in the background as an automated process.”
“Skimmer℠ is an Adobe® AIR™ desktop application designed to streamline, beautify, and enhance the experience of participating in your most frequently used social networking activities. It improves upon your day-to-day interaction with multiple social networks, removing distractions and providing a rich experience that is particularly suited to multimedia content.”
“Easy to use twitter client powered by Adobe Air that runs on your Mac or Windows desktop. Easy, uncomplicated with multiple-installation synchronisation”
“AlertThingy brings the very latest updates from your favourite social networks direct to your desktop. Send Tweets, update your Facebook status, upload photos to Flickr, post to Tumblr and more. For business users we have Yammer, Basecamp and Huddle integrations. So you can mix work and play.”
“Twittm is a desktop client for twitter. Follow friends and trends, topics of your interest, and tweet like a maniac. Twittm is fast, clean and unobtrusive. It runs on Mac and PC, maybe Linux. It’s still in active development. This is a really fresh and early beta, so please send your feedback.”
“Ada is the perfect little Twitter app with a clean, compact design. Ada might be the greatest Twitter app OF ALL TIME. Maybe.”
“Too busy to keep up with Twitter? Birdshot is a Twitter client stripped down to the basics: send tweets and tell me when I have new responses.”
“1. Signal to noise ratio management using unique features like ActiveList, Context and Filters. 2. Powerful groups/lists management. 3. Support for several Twitter accounts and Facebook account simultaneously. 4. Optimal, adjustable screen real estate consumption.”
“Share: Twitter, images on twitpic, upload photos to Flickr, links and videos to friendfeed. Interact: update your facebook status, reply to friendfeed messages, comment, watch videos and ‘like’ posts. Read: Keep up to date with you and your friends social media activities on your desktop”
“There are many microblogging services out there. Sometimes you feel you have a “message” to send or a question to ask. If you subscribed many services, one of the first questions arising is: where do I post this? Twitter? Jaiku? Tumblr? Friendfeed? all of them? For each service usually you have to: open the browser, login, write message, click post. Although some cut and paste can save you some time, the task can get boring soon. Posty simplifies your microblogging. All you have to do is writing the message and clicking a button. Posty, an award winning application, will automatically deliver your message to the services you selected.”
“Snitter is “Snook’s Twitter”: an Adobe AIR-powered application for twittering. Twitter let’s you post small 140 character messages letting people know what you’re up to. Snitter is made on the Adobe AIR platform which is both Mac OSX and Microsoft Windows compatible. There is currently a Linux version of Adobe AIR in alpha testing but some functionality is likely missing.”
An award winning, opensource multi-platform Twitter client with user defined CSS overrides.
“Tweetr is a twitter client that allows you to send and receive twitter messages but has cool features. Support for taking photos with your webcam, Sending files, just drag them onto the Tweetr window and it will instantly upload them so you can easily share these files with your friends.”
“Twhirl is a desktop client for the Twitter microblogging service. Most of the features available on the Twitter website are accessible through twhirl, too. Plus, a lot of usability enhancements have been added.”
“Twibble desktop is a multi account twitter client for Mac, Linux, and Windows built on top of the Adobe AIR platform.”
“Twitter Thingy is a very simple yet powerful Adobe air based Twitter client for windows, OS X and Linux. It has all the essential functions that get you using the best parts of Twitter as quickly as possible, without having to learn a colossal new bit of software. It’s also got some cleaver features like groups that make life that little bit easier.”
“Twitulater is an Adobe AIR microblogging client that currently supports Twitter and Koornk. Its aim is to make life easier for power users who are constantly bombarded by messages from the many people they follow, through automatically splitting the tweet stream into different categories based on content rather than whom the messages are from.
There are eleven basic categories: Direct Messages, Replies, Link sharing, Questions, Happy, Sad, Chatter, ReTweets, My Tweets, All Tweets, Spam and another category is automagically created for every hashtag found. This enables users to only read what interests them at the moment without having to deal with all the noise on microblogging services.”
“A simple Twitter client.”
Here are a few apps that hide neatly away in your menu bar until you call on them.
“QFeeder is an OSX 10.6 optimized Twitter client. It has a novel design based on prioritization of messages within your streams based on what you do and who you interact with. QFeeder adds a strip of icons to the left side of your desktop that will update through the day showing your most important messages. QFeeder also watches what you do and with your input will change the order of messages so you don’t miss the most important ones.”
“Twenu is a very simple Twitter client that hangs out in your top menu bar. You simply click on the Twenu icon to reveal a menu containing a text field. Type in your message to tweet in the field and press return. It’s that easy!”
“Twit Menulet is the only Twitter client that fits in your menu bar—allowing you to monitor the tweet stream throughout the day, without opening your browser or another stand-alone application. Tweets are displayed as a scrolling “ticker” in your menu bar. Click the menu to see the whole tweet stream, to visit links, or to post your own tweets.” (Obviously, the developer’s initial claim isn’t true).
“Scalare is a Twitter client built as minimal and unintrusive as possible. It shows your friend’s tweets as Growl notifications. It runs on Mac OS X 10.5 and above. Scalare is built with simplicity in mind. It is meant for the casual twitter user that doesn’t want to be distracted too much. I chose a windowless UI because that’s how I think Twitter should work; minimal messages you read and keep going. Feel like sending a tweet? Just press the easy key-combo, type what’s in your mind, and you are back to work. ”
There are a few apps out there that decided to differentiate themselves based on primary function. The apps below are more targeted towards search than full-fledged Twitter functionality. The last app implements Twitter search with a twist: an attractive tweet visualizer.
“Sideline is an Adobe® AIR™ desktop application built with the Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI). It allows users to create and group custom queries by topics of interest.”
“Incoming! is a Twitter search client designed for power users and social media experts. It lets you cut through the noise and find the tweets that matter to you most — so you can follow your favorite topics or keep track of what users are saying about your company’s products.”
“Unlike other apps, Incoming! is dedicated to searching Twitter. Follow the latest trending topics, create advanced searches, or stalk your favorite users. Incoming! does it all with a clean, powerful interface built exclusively for Mac OS X.”
“Twistori Desktop is the most beautiful way to explore Twitter. Ever since we launched our popular Twitter visualizer, Twistori.com, people have been asking us for a way to have their own Twistori with their own keywords. You asked, we answered. Twistori Desktop is your own personal Twistori, for any and all keywords and keyword clusters you might want to search for.”
Remember when Dashboard was cool? I feel like the Mac world has moved on from its love of widgets but just in case you haven’t, here are a few Twitter apps that hang out in your Dashboard.
“A full-featured Twitter client for the Mac OS X dashboard. Update your status, send @replies and view DMs as well as view your timelines. Perform full Twitter searches and view user profiles.”
“Twidget is a free Dashboard Widget for OS X that allows you to update your Twitter status.”
A Dashboard widget for tracking various Twitter follower related stats.
“Check up on what your Twitter friends are doing right now, and while you’re at it, make sure they know too.”
That wraps up our huge list of Mac Twitter clients. For my own use, I’m partial to the first few on the list. Tweetie, Nambu, Beak and Kiwi have an amazingly robust feature list and look beautiful. Use the comments below to let us know your favorites and which app above looks the most promising.