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Tame your Twitter feed

Kirk McElhearn | Jan. 23, 2014
Overwhelmed by your Twitter feed? Before you unfollow everyone, try organizing your feed with lists.

Are you following too many people on Twitter, or finding your timeline unruly and hard to keep up with? If so, you may have the Twitter overload blues. This happens to many Twitter users, but there's a way to cure this problem: Use lists both to organize the accounts you follow and to use Twitter more efficiently.

Create a list with
When you follow people on Twitter, they get added to one long list of accounts. Your timeline contains all the tweets (and retweets) from all those accounts. But you can create lists to organize the accounts you follow and view each list individually, cutting down the density of your timeline.

Create a list: You can view and edit lists from the website. Log in, then click the gear icon near the top of the window and choose Lists from the pop-up menu that displays.

To create a new list, click the Create List button. Give the list a name, and a description if you want, then choose whether you want it to be public or private. The only difference between public and private is that anyone can see who is a member of your public lists. If you're making a list of friends, you might want to keep it private. But this has no effect on who can see their tweets.

Add people to your list: Save the list, then search for users--by username, first name, and so on—to add to it. This process can be slow if you follow a lot of Twitter accounts, but there are some shortcuts. For instance, if you're already looking at a person's user page, click the gear icon and choose Add or remove to lists. In the Your Lists window that appears, select any list you want to include the person in.

Watch List limits: Be aware that Twitter limits you to 1000 lists, and that no list can have more than 5000 users. List names can be no longer than 25 characters, and they cannot begin with a number, so you can't have 1-List, 2-List, and so on.

Add people to lists without following them: You can add people to Twitter lists even if you don't follow them. This is very useful if, for example, you want to follow certain accounts just for information--say about breaking news or a particular event; you can add them to a list instead of following them. Then, you can use your regular timeline, without those accounts, for your main Twitter action.

Create and manage lists with apps and websites
Rather than go to the Twitter website, many people like to view their feed in an app that sits in their menu bar or Dock. Unfortunately, you can't work with your lists using the official Twitter client on OS X, but many other apps give you that option, including Twitter's iOS app. Tap a user's icon, then tap the gear icon and choose Add/remove from lists.


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