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Twitter Replies by Email - Alternatives to TwitApps

Lori Halley 16 September 2009 6 comments

What do you do when a favorite web application goes away? That’s what some 4000 users of TwitApps are wondering, now that the Twitter-to-email tool is being dropped by its developer.  Sure, the code is going open source — inevitably, a new tool will come along — but what alternatives to TwitApps are out there right now?

When Christine Datillo tweeted,

One of my favorite apps - Twitapps is shutting down. This kept me off twitter 24/7. I was emailed all replies. Anyone know of substitute?

I suggested the first solution that leapt to mind:

You could grab RSS for @’s to you (via Twitter Search), run RSS feed through Feedburner, then subscribe yourself by email.”

Chris wondered about the time lag, quite rightly, and I think we can improve on that original suggestion. But, first, let's just go over how to get from Twitter to RSS to email:

Step 1: Get the RSS feed for your Twitter @ replies 

Go to http://search.twitter.com and enter @username (your Twitter username with an @ sign in front of it — in my case, for example, that would be @rjleaman) as the search term.

On the search results page, look for the standard little orange RSS icon and “Feed for this query” link in the upper right. That link is the URL for this particular RSS feed. It will give you all the Twitter tweets that include your username with the @ sign in front of it — all the public Twitter messages that mention you by username or are addressed to you directly.

(If you’re new to RSS, here’s our introduction to RSS feeds and feedreaders that you may find useful.)

Step 2: Subscribe to RSS feed by email

Using a feedreader like Google Reader or Bloglines might be the most efficient way for you to keep on top of Twitter in real time, frankly.

But if you really do need to get your Twitter @replies by email, any RSS-to-email service will do that for you.

Feedburner is one option — see how to get started with Feedburner — as I suggested to Christine, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best choice for what should be a simple monitoring task. There are a few hoops to jump through to “burn” your feed, and Feedburner only sends out emails once every 24 hours.

A few good free RSS-to-email services

Here are a couple of free RSS-to-email services that don’t require the set-up that Feedburner does — all you have to do is enter the RSS feed and your email address —and I'm sure you've got a few favorites of your own to add to this very short list:

FeedMyInbox only does daily emails at the moment, but I hear rumors that they may be testing real-time feeds. Stay tuned for an update if anything more comes up on this.

Reblinks is a new one, still in beta, and I’m not sure yet how often it sends emails — I’ve just this minute started testing it — but again, I’ll update with more info when we see how it works out.

The piick of the bunch for getting Twitter replies via RSS and email, because of the frequency issue, looks like PeekFeed. It lets you choose how often you want to get your email updates — by the minute, hour or day.

Do be aware that Twitter's own API limits may restrict how often a search can be queried. But, let's face it, if you're checking for @ replies every few minutes through the day, your productivity is not likely going to be seriously hampered by a Twitter client humming away on your desktop, or a browser window open to Twitter.com!

So what do I do, to try to make sure to catch "important" conversations on Twitter? 

A couple times a day I'll check my feedreader, where I've got a few keyword searches as RSS subscriptions, including the username search I've suggestsed above. And the less "urgent" search results RSS feeds, however — those of more general interest that I'll catch up to at leisure, like news alerts — get delivered by email and shuffled into neat folders by GMail's handy filter system. At the moment, yes, PeekFeed is my choice for an easy, free RSS-to-email service — but if there’s one thing we’ve learned with social media tools popping up and shutting down so quickly in the past year or so, it’s the importance of having a backup plan for any web application you've come to rely on!

What RSS-to-email service can you recommend, for Twitter users who want an alternative to TwitApps?

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 3:04 PM


  • Twitter Trackbacks for Wild Apricot Blog : Twitter Replies by Email - Alternatives to TwitApps [wildapricot.com] on Topsy.com  said:

    Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 8:06 AM
  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 11:34 AM

    Here's another one to add to the list, courtesy of a tip from Steve Drees (@stevedrees) on Twitter -- NutShellMail.com. You do have to let it login to your Twitter account for it to work, but the site uses OAuth so you can revoke the account access permission at any time through your Settings link at Twitter.com. The benefit of this access is that it allows you to receive your private DMs (Direct Messages) by email as well as your public @ replies and other search results. NutShellMail also supports Facebook, MySpace, and email forwarding.

  • Lindsay Reen said:

    Thursday, 17 September 2009 at 2:54 PM

    Very cool.  This sparked the idea for us of the simplicity of feeding our @ replies and DM's into our RSS feed in iGoogle.  Thanks for sharing ideas and thinking creatively!

    www.twitter.com/AlzGA and www.twitter.com/_LR

  • Lindsay Reene said:

    Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 11:57 AM

    We tried this idea and are opting out because we have to go back into our Twitter account (or in our case, Tweetdeck) to find out who sent the @ replies anyway.  It looks like this in peekfeed:<br> {+} @AlzGA another one of our members (autism) is

         a good example of a cause page:

         http://bit.ly/dohoT  you can control a

         little more this way 09/21 @ 03:30pm EDT

    <br> but we wouldn't have know who this was from.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 7:56 PM

    Hmmm, okay, well maybe we'll scratch PeekFeed... because I agree, we really do need to be able to see who is tweeting! Have you tried NutShellMail, Lindsay, that @stevedrees suggested? I haven't had a chance to get to it yet, myself - so would be quite curious to hear of anyone else's experience with it.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 6:30 AM

    Update:  I've just had my first couple of digests from NutShellMail, while PeekFeed failed to deliver to me this morning at all...

    NutShellMail looks very promising, at first trial. You can set up for delivery as often as hourly, on the schedule you want, and which includes private DMs (direct messages) sent to you as well as other updates.

    Also: a reader asked about the purpose of getting Twitter updates by email, instead of logging into Twitter or using a client like TweetDeck.

    A couple reasons come to my mind, and perhaps you'll think of others: For people who work behind a firewall or spend a lot time in places where visits to social networking sites is restricted for one reason or another, digests by email allow them to monitor the Twitter chatter for items that genuinely do need a response. And for the rest of us, I think it's a good productivity tool: keep an eye on Twitter while minimizing the "time suck" that can happen with all the distractions of the real-time stream.

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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