New Twitter for Mac: A Step Back to Move Forward (Review)

Twitter for Mac got an update Thursday morning that brings some significant changes to the official client. Many of the changes actually represent changes back to an earlier time early in the life of the official Twitter app, when it was known as Tweetie.

Most obviously, the 2.1 update for Twitter (available through the Mac App Store(s aapl)) brings back the toolbar, which had previously been removed altogether in version 1.0 and following of Twitter for Mac. It may not be as pretty, but it does allow for breadcrumb navigation, which allows you to quickly and easily click back to various stages along your navigation history, and makes following conversations much easier.

Gone also is the semi-translucent sidebar, and while I generally think the new Twitter is much less pretty than its predecessor, the new functionality makes it quite a bit more powerful than its predecessor. A new feature that lets you pop-out any content into a new, separate window is especially welcome, and makes Twitter resemble more flexible clients like Tweetdeck.

For instance, you could have a separate, actively updating column for a favorite follow or list, or for a search term you’re particularly interested in. You can also pop out feeds from separate accounts for continuous, side-by-side viewing. It may be too much information for some, but for people who spend a lot of their day using Twitter, either for work or for play, it’s a killer feature.

Other improvements include username and hashtag autocompletion, which makes it much easier to correctly use @ mentions and participate in topical conversations. URLs that use shortening now also display the top-level domain.

Even if you find yourself missing Twitter’s unique user interface in spite of all these improvements, you can get it back by activating Twitter’s secret preference pane using Terminal by following these steps.

In case you missed it, Twitter started rolling out a new version of its mobile site to select Android and iOS devices Wednesday, and it’s a considerable improvement over the old version, too. Looks like the company’s on a roll when it comes to delivering solid product updates.