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Review: 8 free Twitter clients for better tweeting

By Barbara Krasnoff
September 23, 2009 06:00 AM ET

TweetDeck v.0.30.0

Judging from the number of times I see TweetDeck mentioned as the source of various tweets, it must be a popular application. And I can understand why; this nicely organized desktop app allows you to simultaneously and easily follow different groups (including your Facebook friends), searches and trends.

What does it do? TweetDeck, which was still in beta when this was written, organizes your Twitter, Facebook and/or MySpace feeds into columns. Icons on top of the interface let you compose an update; create new columns for Twitter, Facebook and MySpace feeds; create a new column out of a search; and launch a Web site called the TweetDeck Directory, which describes itself as "a TV Guide for Twitter channels."

Besides Macs and Windows PCs, TweetDeck works with Linux-based computers, and an iPhone version is available.

What's cool about it? TweetDeck makes it extremely simple to choose a topic or keyword to follow -- just click on the Search icon and type in a word or phrase, and a new column appears showing all the public tweets that use that word or phrase. That column will stay as part of your TweetDeck interface until you decide to delete it.

There are a number of other ways you can individualize your TweetDeck experience -- and it's very easy to figure out how to do it. You can create groups of specific accounts that you are following by choosing from a checklist of all your followed accounts. You can follow all mentions of your own tweets. A single click lets you jump in and out of "single column view," so that you can follow just one column for a while without having to eliminate the others.

Want more? You can simultaneously send a message to your Twitter, Facebook and MySpace accounts, shorten URLs (by, among other ways, linking to your Bit.ly account -- if you have one -- so you can track your clicks), send Twitpics (a service that lets you share images on Twitter) and even translate your tweet into a number of languages, including Arabic, Latvian, Filipino and Hebrew.

TweetDeck v.0.30.0
TweetDeck v.0.30.0
Click to view larger image.

TweetDeck recently added the ability to read Facebook Wall posts and, like Seesmic, to comment on and "like" Facebook status messages directly from the app. And while TweetDeck is a desktop application, if you register, you can sync and back up your columns across different machines.

But the best thing about TweetDeck is its ease of use. It has, up till now, managed to incorporate all these features into an interface that is not overwhelming or too busy.

What needs to be fixed? Very little, actually. There are a few glitches in the latest upgrade -- for example, I have to rebuild all my feeds each time I start it (a bug I hope is fixed soon). And it will be interesting to see if TweetDeck can keep its ease of use as it continues to add more features to keep up with the competition.

Final verdict: This is still one of the best Twitter clients out there, offering a nice balance of features and simplicity.



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