six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Review: Twitterrific returns to the Mac, via iOS

I started using Twitter because of Twitterrific for Mac. When the Iconfactory first released the app, I signed up for a Twitter account and started chatting with my friends. That was ten years ago. Twitter has changed, mobile devices reign supreme, and Twitterrific for Mac stopped being updated many years ago. But as of Tuesday, it’s back, with a new version 5.0 funded by a successful Kickstarter.

This new Twitterrific for Mac is basically a 1.0 product, based on the code base of Twitterrific for iOS, an app that’s been continually updated during the span when the old Mac version had fallen entirely by the wayside. Using the iOS code base is what allows the new Mac version to exist at all, but it does lead to the occasional interface oddity.

On iOS, I use Twitterrific exclusively—don’t email me, Tweetbotists—but on the Mac I switched to the official Twitter app a few years ago. It’s not a great app, but it’s better since it stopped being abandonware. For the past few weeks, I’ve been using Twitterrific for Mac extensively, and I’ve found that it can mostly replace Twitter for Mac for me—but there are a few places where it definitely falls short. (Most of this can be placed at the feet of Twitter, which limits the access third-party apps have to Twitter’s rich data soup, while giving its own app full access.)

As an iOS user, there are features of Twitterrific for Mac that I take for granted, because they exist on iOS: The interface is colorful, with different colors for different sorts of Tweets. It’s customizable, with several different fonts and font sizes available. And there are some nice Mac-only developments, like the ability to open multiple windows with different accounts or aspects of your timeline. (It sort of makes me want the ability to view a couple of timelines when using Twitterrific on my iPad Pro in landscape view, I have to admit…)

This is essentially a 1.0 product, and there are several features of the iOS version of Twitterrific that are just absent here: You can’t manage lists, or set up muffles or mutes on people or keywords or hashtags. (The good news is, Twitterrific for Mac will sync muffles and mutes from iOS and honor them… you just can’t edit them on the Mac side.) The Today view, Twitterrific’s attempt to emulate the secret weapon of Twitter’s native app (the Notifications tab, which shows you who is retweeting and favoriting your posts) is also absent.

There are also several places where the app just doesn’t seem quite properly adapted to the Mac. Text sizes seem a little too large, even when I scale them down, especially when it comes to window headers. I frequently get frustrated that I can’t bring up a reply list by double clicking anywhere in a tweet—if you get too close to the text of the tweet, it thinks I’m selecting a single word of that tweet. (I’m never doing that.)

Because iOS relies on touch interaction, it has no real concept of hovering over something with your cursor—something that happens on the Mac all the time. Since Twitterrific hides the interaction icons on each tweet until you select a tweet, I have to click to select the Tweet, then click to reply. I’m okay with Twitterrific hiding the icons, but maybe when I move my cursor over the tweet, they should appear? It would save me a click every single time.

Back in the old days, I used to customize the color scheme of Twitterrific for Mac, which was a huge pain—you had to open the application bundle and edit a text file. Fortunately, Iconfactory has built theme editing right into the Twitterrific for Mac app, including support for importing and exporting settings. The Theme tab is a hidden feature you can activate by holding down the Option key while opening the app’s Preferences window. It’s not a friendly interface by any means, but that’s just fine—it let me tweak my settings and create a set of colors that was much more pleasing to me.

Overall, I’m happy with how Twitterrific for Mac is progressing. Right now I suspect its target audience is people who use Twitterrific on iOS and want their familiarity to cross over to their Macs. (I’m in that group!) I’m not sure it is quite ready to appeal to users of the official Twitter app or most other Mac Twitter apps, but with continued polish and addition of a few missing features, it could be in short order. But even today, it’s a more complete app than I expected when I backed the Kickstarter, and I’m happy to have it back on my Mac.

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