Storyful Blog

How I learned to stop worrying and love new Tweetdeck

When Twitter rolled out new Tweetdeck in 2011, it was met with gasps of horror from several directions. The update seemed like a dumbed-down version of Iain Dodsworth’s 2008 classic and came with significant teething problems including the huge swath of dead space on the right, the missing edit and ReTweet option, clunky column controls and next-to-impossible list management. For a historical list of the pros and cons, this detailed blog post is one of the best we’ve seen.

Journalists and other power users largely ignored the new arrival (and several updates), preferring to stick to the older and more feature-rich original. This included many of the team at Storyful.

Two things happened this autumn that made us take a fresh look at new Tweetdeck. The first and most important factor was the announcement of API changes that could affect users of ‘old’ Tweetdeck (0.38.1) from March 2013. As Tweetdeck is one of our core tools, we needed to re-examine the updated product with these changes in mind.

Happily, news of the API changes coincided with significant improvements to new Tweetdeck. Many outstanding issues have been addressed in two major updates, making it a product we want to use.

Among journalists, a hint of skepticism remains. This tweet from Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa spoke to the lingering frustration of many power users.


Other journalists were impressed. This tweet is from USA Today’s social media editor:

This article examines some reasons why those who are not using Tweetdeck should use it — including a tour using quick-fire diagrams. I’ll also look at some reasons why people who have avoided the new Tweetdeck might want to make peace with it, and some workarounds for its remaining shortcomings. (Aficionados handling a large number of lists may like to skip to the end of the piece for some handy tips.)

Why use Tweetdeck?

The best and perhaps singular reason to use Tweetdeck is to monitor and manage a large number of Twitter streams at once. Many of the streams you’ll want to keep an eye on are related to your own account  — including your Timeline, Interactions and the Activity column.

You might also like to have a list of your own tweets open too, or one displaying your favourites. The screenshot below shows @Storyful at work, with a selection of columns open that allow whoever is manning the account to monitor the effectiveness of our tweets; keep tabs on the activity of accounts we follow; watch our 24/7 @StoryfulPro newswire and discover newsworthy video. (Click any image to open it full-size in a new tab.)

If you want to know more about columns, this no-nonsense support article from Twitter comes highly recommended (for more on their hidden power, scroll down to the end of this piece). Some of the main features to note are:

1. The Interactions column is the place to be. It tells you when someone follows you, favourites one of your tweets or ReTweets you. More importantly, you can carry on conversations here. Hit the ‘View’ button underneath any message and the full thread opens up, allowing you to view and continue the conversation. If you want a less cluttered column of your conversations, add the ‘Mentions’ column, which excludes ReTweets, favourites and follows. Direct messages work in the same way, via the ‘Messages’ column. A blue dot indicates that someone may be waiting for a response from you!

2. The Activity column is a great way to keep tabs on your network, delivering real-time information on the latest favourites and follows on all the accounts you follow. It can help you discover interesting people, tweets and links you might otherwise miss.

It can also help with serendipitous discovery:

When you hit the ‘Add Column’ button, you’ll be presented with a full list of options. We’ve mentioned many of these already, so most of the options should look familiar:


There are a few points to note:

1. The Facebook column is limited to one account only. This will be the first account you added to Tweetdeck. Don’t worry if you added the wrong account. You can simply delete it and start again.

2. Trends is less powerful than you think: Delivering only a smattering of global trends, and no options for configuration, the Trends column looks like a placeholder for better things to come. Watch this space for now, and use Trendsmap.

3. The Search column is more powerful than you think: Advanced search operators transform this stream from a simple keyword search into a powerful tool for discovery. In our example above, we use a simple combination to scour for tweeted videos across multiple platforms using the Arabic word for the city of Aleppo, in northern Syria, as part of a long string that looks like this: “حلب‎” youtube OR twitvid OR yfrog OR qik OR vimeo OR video OR vid. Other advanced operators allow you to scour by location, date and even sentiment. A major limitation in the search functionality has been removed in a November 7 update, with Tweetdeck users now able to edit their searches as they go. Huzzah!

4. Combined or ‘aggregated’ columns help you cut down on clutter: The bottom line in the image above contains three aggregated columns. The ‘Home’ column displays your primary account’s Twitter Timeline and updates from your Facebook Newsfeed. The ‘Me’ column displays mentions on all your added Twitter accounts, and lets you converse while the ‘Inbox’ does the same for your private messages.

Tweetdeck also offers a powerful suite of tools for processing individual accounts, allowing you to easily interact with them or explore their Activity, Mentions, Lists, Timeline and Favorites. Some of the more in-depth exploration options bring you to the Twitter website where, for instance, you can see what lists someone has been added to, who they are following and who is following them. Following somebody from your primary account is as easy as hitting the big ‘Follow’ button:

Clicking the head-and-shoulders icon with the drop-down arrow (which also appears beside new followers in your Interactions column) brings up even more options, allowing  you to interact, follow, list or delist someone from all your accounts:


Storyful – an edge case:

Our tech team, when they are not busy building the tools we’ll need tomorrow, are fond of telling us that the Storyful newsroom is an edge case. Twitter lists are a great example of how we max out the capacity of our favourite tools.

A vital component of the discovery system at Storyful, our array of hundreds of Twitter lists covers every country in the world and every topic imaginable. The lists are constantly evolving, with new members being added by the team 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At any one time, a Storyful journalist’s Tweetdeck will be charged with 20-30 lists, with the new product allowing us to run many more columns than before. Due to a 20-list limit, these are spread across scores of Twitter accounts. One of the main gripes we have about new Tweetdeck concerns its still-clunky handling of lists.

Although there have been huge improvements with regard to curating lists in the last two updates, actually finding the list you want can still be tricky. This isn’t a problem if you’re running a small number of lists in a static pattern, and new Tweetdeck’s synchronizing columns are a joy if you’re on the move. If you curate hundreds of lists across scores of Twitter accounts in real-time, however, finding and adding them can be a time-consuming (and frustrating) experience.

Tips for handling a large number of lists:

1. Give your lists ‘real’ names: If you don’t fancy scrolling down though a long list of lists every time you want to add a column, this workaround may help. By default, Tweetdeck orders its lists alphabetically by their owner’s so-called ‘real’ or display name, which can be changed via Twitter’s Profile settings. You can give two different Twitter accounts the same display name, which is handy if you want to group more than 20 lists (spread across multiple Twitter accounts). In the image below, you can see how our Middle East lists, which are spread across a number of Twitter accounts, are all grouped by their shared display name ‘Mideast’:

In this image, you can see how renaming our accounts helped us get our lists in order.

To change the display name of the accounts holding your lists, use the profile settings on

Changing you display or ‘real’ name in Twitter’s profile settings.

2. Use Find on the web app: One of the distinct advantages of the Chrome App is that you can use Ctrl-F to find what you’re looking for in that long list of lists:

Update: Tweetdeck gave us several new reasons to stop worrying and love it with the November 7 update that has made searching for your (or any other) lists as easy as typing the name into the search bar in the format @username/listname. To say we’re happy about this would be an understatement. We are actually dizzy with joy.

The hidden power of the Columns bar

Without much fanfare, a huge improvement to how Tweetdeck handles columns was rolled out in last summer’s update. Hitting the Columns button brings up a list of open columns, which can be moved by dragging and dropping items on the list. Additionally, navigating to a column is as simple as clicking on it.

The untrumpeted-but-powerful ‘Columns’ tool in Tweedeck makes finding and moving your columns a breeze.

Tweetdeck still lacks some features we would like to see onboard — for instance the ability to filter columns by keyword or favourite tweets from any account — but it has come along far enough for us to use it in our daily work. We hope that those of you who have yet to use it find this helpful, and that it helps others making the transition from ‘old’ to ‘new’ Tweetdeck.



17 comments on “How I learned to stop worrying and love new Tweetdeck

  1. Gerry Mulvenna
    November 14, 2012

    Having written the “detailed blog post” referenced in the first paragraph, I too have made my peace with the blue tweetdeck. I prefer to use the browser-based incarnation via as it has a quicker development cycle.

    The tipping point for me was when the bug, which prevented viewing of conversions with protected users I follow, was resolved (first in the web-based version).

    I agree that the lack of a column filter is frustrating although in a browser at least Ctrl-F offers a workaround.  I would like to see the return of the QuickProfile and Translate features.

  2. Eric Muhanji
    November 14, 2012

    Thanks for highlighting the great features of the new Tweetdeck. It is a blessing for managing twits.

  3. Smady
    November 14, 2012

    The new interface Tweetdeck for windows looks awful. I don’t use ClearType, and font icons will become a problem for my eyes.
    Also favorite program lost the contrast in colors. Now the text is read very badly. Shouldn’t pretend that the update was good for. Icon “New post” in the light-version — only because of it, I want to turn off the program and use the site Twitter.

    Believe me.
    With best. 

  4. UCC Men's Hockey
    November 14, 2012

    Quite liking Tweetdeck 2.1 after a long time not using it, so thanks for this post guys!

    One issue which you might be able to help with; I can’t for the life of me figure out how to allow it to post to Facebook pages. I’ve disabled https on my FB account and have allowed Tweetdeck to post to my pages. But when you go to compose, the option isn’t there to do so. Any ideas?

  5. cmumathwhiz
    November 14, 2012

    Two major features from the old TweetDeck (Which I’m still using) that I want in the new version – 4square feed and the ability to mark tweets read and clear the read tweets from the column.  Those are what keep me with the old.

  6. Adam Mitchell
    November 14, 2012

    I’m assuming there is still no way to resize down to 2 columns, or facebook comment/like support?

  7. Meme
    November 15, 2012

    can’t block retweets.  Searching online shows this has been an issue since Twiitter took over.  Still no fix.
    Never an issue with  0.38

  8. fcblogin
    November 15, 2012

    Yes, it has improved a lot, but I still dislike there’s no shortener URL preview, very much dislike forced minimum width of 3 columns.

  9. pogue972
    November 16, 2012

    I was talking about the issues with using the old Tweetdeck and its compatibility with Twitter’s new API with friends recently.  A writer at the Daily Dot, Kris Holt, said he contacted Twitter about this and that they won’t revoke the API keys for any old versions of Tweetdeck.  Now, this is second hand information, but I feel its reliable.

    There are lots of reasons I stick to the old 0.38 version of TD, but its slowly starting to breakdown and eventually its going to stop working altogether.  I’m disappointed with the new TD versions and plan to hold out as long as I can, but I wish Twitter would listen to their users and have at least some kind of support contact for Tweetdeck (try to get ahold of them, its not possible).  If they don’t, I hope someone will come along and build some kind of open source Tweetdeck clone that has the same functionality as the 0.38 builds did.

  10. Jotasaenz
    November 16, 2012

    What about Tweetdeck for iphone?

  11. Pingback: #Tip of the day for journalists: Give the new Tweetdeck a second chance | Editors' Blog |

  12. Miriam Cotton
    November 28, 2012

    Never been able to paste links into new tweetdeck. No idea why not. And if I could, where’s is the url shortener, anyone know – does it happen automatically like it used to? Bitterly regretted switching over ever since, though somethings are better than they used to be. Agree that tweetdeck urgently needs customer support.  Or some enterprising person could set up a biz to provide it. 

  13. Restaurant Guide KC
    December 19, 2012

    I am still using tweetdeck .38 because I can update facebook, foursquare and linkedin in the same time. recently the schedule updates is not working with facebook. Can we update all accounts with the new tweetdeck?

  14. TC
    December 21, 2012

    I will continue to use the “old” version. Disliked the new version completely 

  15. Karin4000
    December 21, 2012

    The biggest problem I have with versions newer than 0.38 is the loss of column specific tools.  I need to mark tweets as read and be able to scroll through a column using a keyboard as well as filter a column by name or key word.  If any of this still exists, can someone point me to it?

  16. Grimalkinrn
    January 25, 2013

    I don’t like that link shortening doesn’t work, and I don’t like that the bar to type tweets into at the top of the screen is gone. I downloaded the new Tweetdeck, but didn’t delete the old one, and I’ll use the old Tweetdeck until it stops working unless changes are made to make the new one more user friendly. You shouldn’t need to use your mouse or keyboard to start a new tweet.

  17. James
    January 31, 2013

    Anyone have a problem with Timelime stopping to update. I have two Timelines currently running (for two different accounts) – one is streaming and updating. The other is stuck on a tweet 3 hours ago. Is this a bug, or am I doing something wrong?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on November 14, 2012 by in Storyful tips and tools, Uncategorized.
%d bloggers like this: