In a world so dominated by Twitter, finding a good Twitter desktop client is surprisingly hard. Sure, there are options such as TweetDeck, Seesmic and HootSuite, but none of these are really good. TweetDeck is inflexible and is sorely lacking some features such as conversation view, Seesmic’s desktop client runs on Adobe Air which tends to be.. less than optimal, and HootSuite, well, they don’t even have a desktop client, and who needs yet another constantly open tab in their browser?
I was living in this desperation for quite some time – is it really not possible to find one single desktop Twitter client that actually does the job? Then, one bright day, I was told about MetroTwit. MetroTwit is a Windows-native Twitter client, which aims to succeed where all others have failed. Or as they put it, be “the Twitter client you’ll love to use”. So is it really that good?
Getting StartedInstalling MetroTwit is a breeze, provided you already have .NET Framework 4.0 installed on your machine. If you don’t, it might be a bit less of a breeze, but it’s going to be worth it.
MetroTwit’s free version allows only one Twitter user, which should be enough for most individual users, and is also ad supported. Don’t worry about the ads, though, even those are configurable. Once you download and install MetroTwit, it will instantly launch and ask for access to your Twitter account. Log in using your Twitter credentials, and you’re all set.
Customizing MetroTwitAs you can see, MetroTwit is inspired by Microsoft’s Metro design, which is especially apparent with the default theme and colors. As for me, the first thing I sought was to change MetroTwit’s appearance. Click on the cogwheel icon on the top left to access the settings.
The settings include 7 different tabs, from which you can customize every imaginable thing about MetroTwit. In the general tab, aside from upgrade activation, you’ll find two important features you can control: advertisement placement, and minimized MetroTwit placement.
Here you can decide which column the ads will appear in. The chosen column must be active, but you can choose one in which ads will distract you the least. Now we can continue right on to display and play with appearance a bit.
Ah, that’s better. From here you can switch to a dark theme if you wish, and also control the theme accent, which can match your AeroGlass color or be one of 8 custom colors. Dark and silver work great for me. Another very useful feature you can see here is having the scroll bar stay put even when new tweets come in. This is great if you want to keep your last read position and continue from there every time you look at MetroTwit.
There are loads of other things you can configure, such as notifications for every column, update rates, a taskbar unread counter and services such as URL shorteners, but I will leave you to discover those on your own. Don’t miss the highly configurable notification toasts, though, which even support two monitors.
Twitter on MetroTwitIt’s now time to really get down to business. After all, we’re here to use Twitter, not mess around with settings. So how does MetroTwit fare with actual use? When you first install it, MetroTwit will launch with two default columns: friends and mentions. These, of course, are highly configurable. Click the x icon above each column to remove it, and the plus icon at the bottom to add columns. You can even change the column name if you wish.
There are less column options here than in the new TweetDeck – I especially missed the new “Interactions” column I got used to in TweetDeck – but MetroTwit compensates for this with other features which we will look at shortly. After you’ve added all your columns, you can arrange them as you wish simply by dragging them around. You can also control their width, and have a custom width for each column.
MetroTwit looks great whether you decide to have its window full screen or custom size, mainly because you can decide yourself how big or small everything is.
And here is the interaction column replacement: On the left, you will find MetroTwit’s alert system. Here you can see in one glance how many unread mentions, direct messages, tweets from friends and activities & requests you have.
Clicking on one of these will open a floating column, where you can read your stuff. If you suddenly decide this is something you need to see all the time, click the pin icon to pin the floating column as a regular column.
MetroTwit also includes Twitter trends from all over the world. Click the trends icon on the bottom right, and choose a location to view its current, weekly or daily trends. You can set your location as default, but keep browsing the dozens of other available locations.
MetroTwit also includes other features such as conversation view within the client, an undo option for that typo-filled tweet, and the ability to see how many times a certain tweet of yours was retweeted.
Last but not least, is the tweeting experience itself. Here we come to the one feature that’s sorely lacking in MetroTwit: scheduled tweets. You can only send out tweets here and now. But when you do, it’s a very nice experience. You get an elegant character count in the background, and you can preview shortened URLs before you actually send them out.
Bottom LineMetroTwit manages to be everything TweetDeck isn’t. It’s flexible, customizable, very responsive and full of useful features. If you want to ditch the ads and/or use more than one Twitter account, MetroTwit Plus will cost you AUD $14.95, which is currently $15.90 USD.
Aside from the lack of scheduled tweets, I can’t think of one thing that’s missing from MetroTwit. It did crash on me once, but I’m eagerly anticipating future iterations which will no doubt make it even better.
What is your Twitter client of choice? Do you have a good desktop client to recommend? Share in the comments!