Twitter may play second fiddle to Facebook's social network prowess, but we are still using it in large numbers, even though it has its fair share of annoyances. Here's how to avoid being repressed by Twitter's flaws.
Disable Unnecessary Mobile Notifications
For reasons most users don't understand, Twitter added a number of notifications for things you don't really care about. These are included but not limited to notifications of the following types:
- "X people are talking about this topic"
- "Three people favorited this tweet."
- "X, Y, and Z just followed @ButtsMcButtpants."
None of these have much to do with any activity you take part in. They're all prompted by other people interacting with things that aren't you. Sometimes they might stumble onto this side of relevant, but most of the time they're obnoxious. These types of notifications seem limited to the mobile apps for now. Fortunately, you can turn them off:
- Go to Settings in the Twitter app.
- Tap your account's handle.
- At the top, tap the button that says "Notifications are ON"
- Scroll to the bottom and disable "Recommendations", News"m "Other" and anything else that you may not want to see.
Part of the problem with these notifications is that they're hidden and poorly labelled. The fact that there is a type of notification called "Other" at all implies that Twitter doesn't want to be terribly forthcoming with what's going to be put in your notification stream. Still, you can use this page to turn on or off any notifications you want.
Prune the Notifications You Actually Want
Twitter notifications (excluding the pointless ones above) come in a variety of flavours. There are favourites, retweets and replies. However, those can be further filtered with a distinction known as "tailored for you". What goes into this is unclear, but it appears to be a mixture of interactions from people you follow, as well as things you'd probably want to know about like getting followed by a high-profile person or replies from someone you interact with a lot. You can choose to get notifs from anyone, "tailored" people, or no one for favourites, retweets and replies individually with Twitter's own settings.
Chances are, you're actually already in the "tailored" mode for most things anyway. However, if you want a bit more control, there's something of a workaround: lists and muting. Your notifications feed won't include anything from people you've added to lists, nor anyone you've muted. If you want to keep up with someone but don't want to hear from them, add them to a list. You can even follow them if you really want them to know you're listening, but keep them muted in your primary timeline.
Disable or Filter All Those Emails
Twitter likes to remind you that it exists, even if you use it frequently. While most of us don't need email notifications for our social networks anyway, Twitter will send you tons, including daily digests, roundups of people who followed you, and prompts to come back if you haven't logged in for a while. These can all be disabled by going to Twitter on the web and navigating to Settings > Email Notifications.
Of course, you can also use a Gmail filter to ensure that no email gets through even if you change your settings. Twitter uses two primary email accounts to send you information, with very different purposes:
- [email protected]: This address is used to send you notification-related emails, like letting you know about new followers or direct messages. These are sometimes helpful, but other times can be a lot of noise.
- [email protected]: This one is more frequently used to send you newsletters or suggestions on who to follow. Assuming you don't disable these entirely, filtering this address is a pretty good way to clear out your inbox.
Obviously, this is all up to your preferences, but chances are if you need Twitter to email you reminders to use the service, you're not using it enough to really care about it in the first place. For most of us, all of the email notifications can go. The few we want to keep can be filtered.
Unfollow an Annoying Person for a While
Twitter added its own mute function recently, but unless you're super diligent about unmuting people, it's not very useful. It functions as a way to block someone without unfollowing them, which is nice, but if you forget to unmute them again, it's not much better than permanently blocking/unfollowing them.
One alternative is to use a service like MuteTweets. Contrary to its name,it allows you to do is temporarily unfollow someone. You can specify a person and the duration of time you'd like to unfollow them. The one downside to this method is that the recipient of your block will receive a notification when you re-follow them, but if it's a big public figure or prolific tweeter, they're unlikely to notice anyway.
TweetDeck: Twitter's Secret Awesome Client
TweetDeck is actually owned by Twitter and it's actually one of the best Twitter clients around. At least on the desktop. Not only does it allow you to view your timeline, lists, and notifications all at once, it includes a number of filtering options to help you keep obnoxious crap away. Annoyance-stomping features include:
- Excluding content by keyword (i.e. filter slurs from your notifications)
- Disable media previews. If your notifications happen to be overwhelmed with butts or whatever.
- Mute content from a particular source (i.e., Yes you can turn off Upworthy-related tweets).
TweetDeck may be overkill for casual users who only check Twitter once every day or so, but if you use it even half as much as most people use Facebook, it's worth checking out. Twitter's done a lot to reduce the ability to customise its experience after shutting down or severely limiting third-party app support. However, you can still tweak enough things to minimize the mess.