Use Twitter’s progressive web app on macOS for an official app-like experience

In February 2018, Twitter decided to kill their app for Mac. They were already slow on updating it with new features so the news did not come across as a surprise. However, Twitter did not offer an alternative app. Instead, they recommended that users use Twitter in their browsers. Luckily, there is a way to use Twitter’s mobile website, which is also a progressive web app, as a desktop app. This can be done on macOS using just Google’s Chrome browser, without the need of any plugins.

I have tested this method to work well with Chrome version 66. So, make sure that your Chrome is updated before continuing.

  1. To start, we will have to enable Desktop Progressive Web Apps support in Google Chrome. Go to this link in Chrome: about:flags and search for Desktop PWAs. Change the dropdown to Enabled and restart Chrome.Chrome Flag for PWA
  2. Once Chrome restarts, open mobile.twitter.com in a new tab.
    Mobile Twitter Settings in Chrome
  3. Click on the top-right menu icon in Chrome and you will find an option Add to Applications… Click Add in the dialogue box that shows up. This will ‘install’ the Twitter PWA icon to your Mac’s applications folder. The app will also be accessible from Chrome’s Apps section.Add to Applications Chrome Install to Applications Chrome
  4. Even though we have installed the app, we are not done yet. There are still a few more steps to be taken. You will notice that if you click on the Twitter app icon, it simply opens up in a new tab in Chrome. To fix this, we will go to Apps in Chrome and look for the Twitter icon. Right click it and select Open as Window. This will make the Twitter PWA open in its own window.Apps in Google Chrome

    Open as Window in Chrome

    Note: all your Chrome extensions will still be active in the window.

  5. Launch the app and it should open in its own window, and its icon in your macOS Dock. There’s just one more thing to do at this stage.Twitter PWAIf you have not enabled Push Notifications, click on your profile picture and go to Settings & Privacy > Notifications > Push Notifications. Upon enabling this option, Chrome might ask your permission. Click Allow to ensure that you receive notifications.Twitter PWA Notifications

Twitter recently announced some additions to the Twitter PWA. It now supports a dark theme, realtime updates for reply, retweet and like counts, and an updated Tweet compose box. This makes the Twitter PWA even more useful as an alternative desktop app.

While I would recommend Tweetbot over Twitter’s mobile website, the former does not support features like polls, tweet threads and more. However, one feature missing from Twitter’s mobile website is that it doesn’t autoplay videos and GIFs.

Now that you have enabled the PWA flag in Chrome, you can add others apps to your desktop too. A useful selection of PWA is available at pwa.rocks. The Add to Applications shortcut even works with regular websites, so you can go crazy with adding shortcuts for websites like Netflix and YouTube and enabling them to open in their own windows.