5 apps that enhance Twitter for work

Explore third-party Twitter apps that help you track profile updates, search likes, filter and sort tweets, get more context about accounts, and emphasize accessibility.

Illustration: Twitter bird logo in center, with logos and company names from the 5 companies covered in the article (Flocknet, favourites.io, Visual ALT, Tweet Shelf, Twemex)

Illustration: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic 

Twitter has grown far beyond its initial roots as a no-more-than-140-characters-per-tweet microblogging service. These days, a tweet may consist of as many as 280 characters, or it could contain a GIF, a video (up to 140 seconds long) or up to four images. You may share a live video stream on Twitter or host a live audio-only conversation with Twitter Spaces. And Twitter continues to test new functionality, such as Twitter Communities and tweaks to TweetDeck.

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But even with all of Twitter's changes, I continue to rely on third-party tools for a few features. I use each of the five apps highlighted below. A couple of them, including Flocknet and Favourites.io, I've used for several years as a paying customer. If you're an avid user of Twitter, each of these apps is worth exploring. (All of the apps work with Chrome and on a Chromebook.)

Emphasize image accessibility on Twitter

When you share an image with Twitter, make sure to add a description—also known as alt (short for alternative) text—so that people who may not be able to view the image may still understand what the image contains. The alt text for images may be accessed by screen readers, but there's no Twitter setting to display alt text as of September 2021.

The free Social visual alt text Chrome extension by Nick DeNardis displays the alt text for images as you browser Twitter.com. The alt text displays in white text at the bottom of images (Figure A, left). Images that lack alt text show with a red bar at the bottom (Figure A, right).

Figure A

Two screenshots: (left) @TwitterA11y tweet with and image with ALT text displayed in white text on a blue background at the bottom of the image, (right) @TechRepublic tweet with an image without ALT text, with a red rectangular bar at the bottom of the image.

Once installed in Chrome, the Social visual alt text extension displays the alt text for images on Twitter (as shown on the left, in the block at the bottom of the image). Images without alt text display with a red bar (right) at the bottom of each image.

Search and surface contact information on Twitter

Flocknet gathers Twitter profile information, such as bio, location and links, for both your followers and the people you are following. You may then search your Twitter network: Do I know anyone in Portland? (Figure B) Who of my followers has Microsoft in their bio?

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Flocknet highlights recent Twitter profile edits (Figure B), which lets you easily identify when someone changed roles, moved or edited their bio to emphasize different interests. Flocknet similarly surfaces location changes. You can set alerts to be notified when a term is added to a profile name, bio or location. And Flocknet Flows give you a way to group contacts in various ways, such that Flocknet can serve as a streamlined contact management system built on Twitter.

Flocknet charges based on the total number of contacts (accounts followed plus following) in the system. For a total of up to 5,000 contacts, the price is $5 per month. A limited free offering provides limited search features along with daily following and weekly follower syncs.

Figure B

Screenshot of Flocknet search for the word "Portland" in the author's account, with three results, two displayed (@NTEN and @marshallk), along with recent edits marked in the profiles, to highlight changes (e.g., much as tracked changes in a document).

Flock.net helps you search your Twitter contacts and monitor profile changes, among other features.

Filter and sort tweets

TweetShelf lets you filter and sort your Twitter timeline and lists, which makes it a useful tool to discover content of interest to your contacts. Select a stream (e.g., Home for accounts you are following or any of the Twitter Lists you follow) to display "Stories" shared to that list (Figure C). Adjust the display to narrow the stories shown by content type mentioned (e.g., article, websites, books, podcasts, videos), by time (e.g., today, last two hours, last four hours), or by number of friends (e.g., 1, 2, 3) sharing a story. Additionally, you can sort by most shared first, latest shared first or latest published first.

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TweetShelf offers iOS and Android apps, as well as a web version. The free version lets you sort and filter your timeline and curated lists, receive a daily email digest and store 25 recent items. The premium version, priced at just under $6 per month or $54 per year, adds access to lists you follow, support for multiple accounts, additional date filters, access to an RSS feed and more.

Figure C

Screenshot of Tweet Shelf, showing @awolber Weather Twitter list, with top items from yesterday (e.g., three tweets, each shared by three people; along with two tweets, each shared by two people).

TweetShelf lets you sort your timeline and lists to identify frequently shared content.

Save, search and group likes on Twitter

Favourites.io is a web app that makes it simple to search tweets you've liked—or, as the action used to be called, favorited. (And, yes, the app is from an Irish developer, so make sure to add the "u" if you default to American English.) For example, I often Like tweets that mention studies, reports and new articles. I use Favourites.io to search for keywords (e.g., "Google" as shown in Figure D) and find these liked tweets quickly, sometimes years later. Favourites.io costs €29 per year (a little less than $34 per year).

Figure D

Screenshot of @awolber My Favourites account, with a search for the keyword "Google" indicating 258 favourites founds, with the liked Tweets containing the term displayed below in three columns.

Favourites.io lets you search tweets you've liked.

Get context, history and streamlined search on Twitter

Twemex (@TwemexApp) replaces the Twitter sidebar on the web (where What's Happening, Who to Follow and a search bar otherwise display) with access to enhanced search as well as additional context and history for accounts. For example, when you're on a Twitter profile page, Twemex displays that account's most liked Tweets (Figure E). Or, when browsing a timeline, you might choose from Random Highlights, On This Day, Recent Highlights or Intentionally Blank. At the top of the sidebar, there's a search box that displays several search tip commands when selected: /me, /follows, /user, /list, /from:<user> among others. The app website indicates that the ability to search likes and bookmarks is "coming soon." As of September 2021, Twemex is free and will remain so while it is in beta.

Figure E

Screenshot of Twitter.com at the @preakeltorg profile, with Twemex sidebar on the right, with a search box at the top, and two Highlighted Tweets below (with 33 and 22 likes, respectively, from March 20, 2020 and April 25, 2018).

Twemex replaces the right sidebar on Twitter.com (as shown here in Chrome) with easy access to enhanced search, as well as additional information about an account, such as most-liked Tweets from the account.

What Twitter tools do you use?

In addition to the above, I continue to use both the Omnibox Twitter and Twitter account detector Chrome extensions (as covered in my earlier article, 7 Chrome extensions that will make you more productive on Twitter). And I continue to monitor other tools, such as dewey.co and Chirr App. Do you use any of the above apps? What do you think of them? Are there other third-party tools or extensions you rely on to make the most of Twitter? Let me know what third-party Twitter apps you find helpful, either with a comment below or, of course, on Twitter (@awolber).

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