This is bizarre because NetNewsWire is a RSS reader. Its purpose is to aggregate news feeds from websites and blogs. (Ironically, my company, Alltop, is in the business of making RSS readers unnecessary, but that’s another story.) Using NetNewsWire for Twitter is like using a Toyota Prius as a taxi cab: it makes sense because of the Prius’s great mileage, but I doubt that Toyota planned it this way or optimized Prius for this purpose.
Reasons to Use NetNewsWire
Here are the reasons that I use NetNewsWire as a Twitter client:
- Thirty-six tweets are visible on a 13-inch MacBook. NetNewsWire does not waste vertical space. In Twitter clients like Twhirl and TweetDeck, I can see nine. When you have more than 100,000 followers, tweet more than fifty times a day, and use Twitter as a twool, compactness is everything.
- It treats tweets like emails—and this is a good thing. NetNewsWire displays unread tweets as boldfaced, and it shows a count of unread ones for each search’s folder. In other words, it looks like an email client for Twitter.
- Updates are recurring or manually triggered but do not constantly, inexplicably occur. Have you ever been reading a tweet when an update occurs which causes you to lose your place? This happens to me all the time. NetNewsWire reduces the frequency of this happening because the most frequent recurring updates happens every thirty minutes. This is a good thing for people like me with limited attention spans.
- You can search through hundreds of tweets. Sometimes I know I read a tweet and want to find it again. Most Twitter clients only keep a dozen or so tweets around. NetNewsWire keeps hundreds around for searching.
- You can edit existing custom searches. Most Twitter clients permit you to create a custom search. However, it’s difficult to edit it once you have. NetNewsWire makes it much easier to do this though you actually create a new search by doubleclicking on an old one, but this process is much better than how Twitter clients do it.
- You can create additional custom searches. Most Twitter clients run out of display space for additional custom searches. NetNewsWire sticks the results of each one into a folder much like a folder in an email client.
- NetNewsWire flags tweets and then you can display only the flagged ones. This ability beats the hell out of favorites because you can view many more favorites at once than Twitter’s online method.
Convinced? If you are, here’s what you need to do:
- Buy a Macintosh. With some pleasure, I have to tell you that NetNewsWire only runs on Macintosh. The company that created NetNewsWire has two Windows products that might do the same thing: NewsGator Online and NewsGator Inbox. I don’t know a thing about them, and I’m not about to learn.
- Download NetNewsWire here and install it.
- Go to Search.twitter.com and create a search for your Twitter screen name. For example: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=guykawasaki. This search grabs your Replies and tweets that mention you. If you have more than one account, you can either combine searches (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=guykawasaki+OR+alltop).
- Grab the RSS feed for the search. Click on the text “Feed for this query” next to the orange icon on the right side of the page.
- Add a new subscription in NetNewsWire. Go to the File menu and launch New Subscription or do a Command-N. Paste the RSS feed address in the box and click on Subscribe.
- Create additional searches, grab their feeds, and add subscriptions. Don’t forget that you can do dedicated hashtag searches such as “#gtd.”
- Rename your searches. Select the name of the feed and go to the File menu, select Rename, and enter a descriptive name for your searches.
- Display many tweets. By default, NetNewsWire only shows twenty tweets. Go to the NetNewsWire menu and select Preferences. Click on the General button. Change Show to 100.
- Customize the look and feel of NetNewsWire. Go to the View menu and select Layout. I use the Traditional View. Go to the View menu and select Columns. I use only Date and Creator. Reorder the Searches by dragging and dropping. Reorder the columns by dragging and dropping. Change the widths of the columns by grabbing the handles when you mouseover the heading of the columns.
- Control the operation of NetNewsWire. Here’s how to control how NetNewsWire works for you:
- Schedule refreshes. Go to the NetNewsWire menu, select Preferences, then select the Download button. I set mine to the shortest interval, thirty minutes.
- Refresh individual searches. Click on a search and do a Command R. All searches are not created equal.
- Mark all tweets in a search as read. Click on a search and do a Command K. This will salve your guilty conscience.
- Search tweets. Enter the text you want to search for in the Toolbar. This is very useful to find that tweet you know you read.
- Synchronize and backup multiple copies of NetNewsWire. Go to the NetNewsWire menu, select Preferences, then select the Synchronizing button. This enables you to synch copies of NetNewsWire on different Macintoshes using MobileMe as well as store a backup of your setup and tweets.
The Bad News
What you read so far is the good news; there’s also bad news, so the following is a list of the shortcomings of using a RSS-feed reader as your Twitter client:
- No Directs. You can get a RSS feed of Directs, but for the life of me I can’t get it to work. If you get it work, let me know. Here is the feed location: http://twitter.com/direct messages.rss.
- Single account. This is a bummer, but since I can’t get Directs to work anyway, it bothers me less than you’d think.
- Two clicks to reply. It takes two clicks to start writing a reply: one to get to the actual tweet either using NetNewsWire’s internal web browser or your default browser and one to click on the Reply arrow in the tweet.
- No avatars. This a feature. It forces you to answer people by the content of their tweets instead of being influenced by whether they are male or female amd hot or not.
- No posting pictures. This is a bummer, but you can use Posterous instead which enables you to tweet multiple pictures, audio, and video. (Disclosure: I am an investor in Posterous.)
- Challenging retweeting. There is an awkward way to retweet messages: go to the News menu and select Send to Twitterrific. This requires that you have Twitterrific, and you have to edit the outgoing tweet by replacing “Reading Twitter” with “RT.” Copying and pasting the tweet and adding “RT” in another Twitter client that you have open is probably easier when all is said and done. Perhaps the creators of NetNewsWire will also integrate other Twitter clients and start the tweet with “RT” in the future.
- No emailing tweets. Twitter desktop clients can’t do this any, so only Tweetie for iPhone users will miss it.
For some people, these shortcomings are deal killers but for the volume and way that I use Twitter, however, I’m happy to forgo some functionality for what NetNewsWire can do. To compensate for NetNewsWire’s inability to do these functions, I simultaneously run another Twitter client like TweetDeck or Twhirl.
I hope this find this useful. If you’re a power user of Twitter and own a Macintosh, give NetNewsWire a shot. There’s something to be said for a product that gets the job done even if it was intended for that job.