Over the past 2 years or so, I think I’ve tested and used just about every possible desktop application you can get your hands on for free for Macs. From the aesthetically pleasing Tweetie, to the power user’s best friends in Seesmic Desktop and Tweetdeck, I’ve given them all a decent run and none have really provided me with ALL the specs and features I desire:
- Multiple accounts
- Multiple social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc)
- Scheduled Tweets
- Built in link shortening
- Customisable interface (easily change column orders)
- Tabbed layout to maximise usable columns
- Analytics & link stats tracking
- Ability to view user info in a neat way
- Message Drafts
- Visual and audible update notifications
It’s a fairly large shopping list, but one that is easily covered by what I now believe to be the “best app on the block” – Hootsuite.
Why Hootsuite as opposed to the various alternatives?
I’ll give you a couple of examples of why I’m sold on using Hootsuite as my primary Twitter application, but first make sure you check out a great blog post titled, “10 Reasons I’m Switching from Tweetdeck to Hootsuite” from the guys over at “Web App Storm”.
For me, two of the best features of the Hootsuite service are the ability to track statistical information regarding your Tweets and the specific links that you post within (using Hootsuite’s default URL shortening service options), and also the user profile information panels that appear (shown below) each time you click on a user name.
Setting up Hootsuite as a Mac Twitter desktop application
You’re probably wondering how you can make a web-based service into a desktop application without some kind of installer or application environment like Adobe AIR (used by applications like Tweetdeck)? Well it’s actually quite simple using a neat, free program for the Mac called “Fluid”. The following is a quick step-by-step look at how you can be up and running with Hootsuite as your primary Mac desktop accessed by a neat customised dock icon, in no time.
Step 1 – Find a suitable dock icon for your application
It’s hard to go past a more suitable icon than that adorable little Hootsuite Owl we see all around the place these days.
Finding suitable dock icons for all the applications I have set up in the past using Fluid has been a cinch when using “Deviantart” as my search engine. Simply navigate to the “Dock Icons” category section of the site and search for the web application in question – in this case “Hootsuite”. The icon I found for this project you can download from here.
Unzip the icon resource file and place it somewhere where Fluid will be able to find it every time you open your new “Hootsuite” application.
Step 2 – Download and install Fluid for Mac
As long as you are running OSX 10.5 or greater, jump over to http://fluidapp.com/ and download the free Fluid installer.
Note: A similar program called Mozilla Prism is available for those of you on a Windows PC or Linux that will help you achieve a similar result.
Install the application on your Mac and crank it up.
Step 3 – Create your application
Once Fluid starts up, you’ll be presented with a window prompting you to “Create a Site Specific Browser”. Simply fill out the requested details as shown below. When it comes to the “Icon” field, select “Other…” (as shown) and navigate to wherever you ended up placing your Hootsuite Owl icon.
Once you have your icon selected, hit the create button to create your new Hootsuite desktop application.
Step 4 – Add the new Hootsuite application to the dock
You will now be presented with a success message and a few options for progressing. We want to add the new application to the dock, so select the “Reveal in Finder” option.
Find the Hootsuite application you just created by looking for the distinctive Owl icon, and drag the icon to your dock. Drop it in the appropriate spot on your dock and click the icon to open Hootsuite!
If you are asked to log in to your Hootsuite account the first time you start up the application, and when you do you get kicked out to your default browser (Firefox etc):
- Close the Hootsuite application
- Open Safari
- Log into Hootsuite selecting the “Remember Me” option
- Close Safari
- Open your Hootsuite application from your dock once again.
This time you should be taken directly into your Hootsuite account screen.
From there it’s just a matter of setting up your accounts and columns the way you want them and exploring the Hootsuite service to find all the amazing features and options that you have for managing your Twitter account(s).