We've seen a lot of changes to Twitter in recent months, including the introduction of a subscription plan with perks, tweaks to the way that replies work, and a new font that hasn't been universally welcomed. Then there are Fleets, which ended up being very fleeting indeed.
But Twitter is also busy updating and evolving its other Twitter client: TweetDeck. Launched in 2008 and acquired by Twitter in 2011, you can think of TweetDeck as a window to the social network for power users—you get real time updates, advanced search tools, and more.
If you've never tried TweetDeck, or if you've previously used it and since forgotten about it, here are some of its key features—and it might suit you better than the default Twitter web client. As we've said Twitter is testing updates to TweetDeck too, so it looks like even more functionality is on the way (and we're fingers crossed hoping they don't hobble any already there.)
Right now, TweetDeck is only available in a web browser, but it's possible that mobile apps are planned somewhere down the line as Twitter continues to develop the product.
Watch Everything in Real Time
Key to TweetDeck is its expansive layout, split up into customizable columns that you have full control over. Whereas Twitter is typically just a single column—showing the tweets of the people you're following—TweetDeck lets you have this column and plenty more alongside it as well. If you have a widescreen monitor, you can keep an eye on an awful lot of tweets at once.
You can add new columns by clicking the big blue + icon on the left-hand side of the TweetDeck interface. As well as your main Twitter timeline (tweets from people you follow), you can set up columns showing your notifications, your mentions, your direct messages, your liked tweets, tweets from a particular user, tweets matching a particular search term, one of your Twitter lists, a trending topic of your choice, and more.
So, for example, you might want to set up a search term for a particular hashtag on a breaking news story, and monitor tweets as they come in. Alternatively, you can create a list with a subset of the most interesting people you follow on Twitter, and use it in place of your own timeline (especially when you're only looking for a quick update on what's happening on the social network).
You could even set up multiple lists for multiple times of day and switch between these columns based on whether you're working or not. It's up to you which order the columns go in, and how many appear on screen at any one time, and TweetDeck is also capable enough to manage multiple accounts through the same interface—giving you even more control over what you see on Twitter and when.
Get Live Search Results
By default, the columns that you've configured update themselves in real time, which is another difference to the standard Twitter experience. Columns scroll almost instantly as new tweets come in, which means you sometimes have to be quick to see what's being said (just scroll down slightly on any column to pause it).
This is particularly useful for searches and hashtags, though a column can quickly become overwhelming if your search terms are too broad or too popular. Click the + button on the menu bar on the left, choose Search, and tell TweetDeck what you want to look for. The new column gets appended to the right-hand side by default.
By clicking on the sliders icon at the top of any search column, you can unlock even more functionality: You can limit the results to certain kinds of tweets (such as tweets with images), enter keywords to exclude, specify particular dates that the tweets must match, and choose whether or not to show retweets. Further down you can limit your searches by location, tweet author, and even engagement—so you can only show tweets with a certain number of retweets.
All of this gives you a great deal of flexibility when it comes to digging through the firehose of updates that millions of Twitter users post every day. You can use it for everything from keeping an eye on a particular news story or hashtag, to checking how many times a particular user is being mentioned on the social network, in real time.
Customize the Interface to Suit You
Every column can be customized using the sliders icon at the top, though the available options vary depending on what type of column you're dealing with. When you're showing one of your lists, for example, you can choose to only show tweets that match or exclude certain keywords, and you can decide whether or not retweets are included. You can also limit a list column to certain tweet authors or mentions of certain tweet authors.
Every column has a Preferences option that lets you set whether or not embedded media is shown, and how big that embedded media should be on screen. You can also enable or disable desktop notifications and sounds for particular columns—though we'd advise you to be careful on using this with feeds that are frequently being updated, otherwise you might find yourself overwhelmed with alerts.
Click the cog icon down in the lower left-hand corner of the TweetDeck interface, then Settings, and you're able to set some other interface options: You can switch between dark and light modes, change the width of the columns and the size of the fonts used, and turn off the real time streaming of tweets if you want to take a slower and more deliberate approach to the tweets that are coming into your columns.
TweetDeck lets you compose and schedule tweets too of course: Click the compose button in the very top left of the TweetDeck interface, and you can tell everyone what's happening, share links and images, and more. The option to schedule your tweet for a future time is available right in the same interface, while you're also able to send direct messages from the same panel, if you need to.