Close Twitter better with these free tools that make archiving a breeze
It’s never a bad time to back up your data. But for Twitter users, it’s arguably more urgent than usual given the platform’s recent… unpredictability. Mass layoffs and layoffs, changes in whiplash policies, and a crippled infrastructure don’t inspire much confidence that Twitter will remain stable well into the distant future. That’s why it’s worth considering archiving your account for posterity.
Twitter has long offered an account data archiving tool, which currently allows you to copy your data into a machine-readable format that is transferable to select few other services. But while the tool works well for simple backups, the archives it creates aren’t particularly user-friendly. There’s no obvious way to quickly sort, say, the tens of thousands of tweets an archive might contain, or drill down into specific types of tweets and embedded media within an archive.
Fortunately, thanks to the open source community, there are freely available tools for those who want more control over their Twitter archives. They don’t undercut Twitter’s archive request process — you need an account archive directly from Twitter to use many of the tools — but they make working with Twitter archives less painful and increase the usefulness of the archives, at least in theory.
Note that not all tools are necessarily easy to use for non-developers. Many require knowledge of Python and other programming languages, and any tool that can access Twitter’s API requires keys from a Twitter developer account. (Disclaimer: Don’t allow tools to access your account if you don’t fully trust them.) But the tools provide at least basic setup instructions to help beginners get started.
Manage and view Twitter archives
Perhaps the most comprehensive of the bunch is the Twitter Archive Parser, which aims to fix and/or circumvent some of the more glaring flaws in Twitter’s archiving system (e.g. shortening links, storing tweets in a complex code structure, etc.). tool converts tweets and even direct messages into markdown, the markup language supported by most content management systems and editors, as well as HTML — complete with embedded images, videos, and links.
The Twitter Archive Parser goes beyond the barebones functionality of the Twitter archiving feature to replace shortened URLs with their original versions, copy tweeted images to a folder (for easier sorting), output lists of followers and people you follow, and images in their original size. (By default, Twitter’s archiver swaps out full-sized images in tweets for smaller ones.)
However, if you’re just looking for a more user-friendly archive view, Twitter Archive Browser is right up your alley. It shows your entire Twitter timeline dating back to the very first Tweet and lets you browse direct message history offline. As you would expect, Twitter Archive Browser remains fully functional in case you delete your Twitter account, displaying all the media you’ve uploaded, including images and videos.
Extract URLs, export bookmarks and delete tweets
Another Python-based tool, Taupe, is more limited in its capabilities than Twitter Archive Parser, for example. But it does exactly what it advertises: pulls the URLs of your tweets, retweets, replies, quote tweets, and “likes” from a personal Twitter archive. (Taupe is a loose abbreviation for “Twhiter ato archive YOURL parser”).
Taupe takes a Twitter archive, extracts the URLs that match the tweets, retweets, and the like, and outputs the results in a spreadsheet format that can be used with other software and services, such as the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. While Taupe has limitations — for example, because the Twitter archive format for “likes” doesn’t include a timestamp, Taupe can’t know or show exactly when individual tweets were liked — it’s one of the simplest ways to quickly access historical Twitter data. into a more usable format.
Complementing Taupe is the self-describing tool Export your Twitter Bookmarks, which saves all your Twitter bookmarks — including photos and videos and fully expanded URLs associated with tweets — to a markdown file. (Twitter archives don’t contain bookmarked tweets.) And for bulk deleting tweets in an archive, Twitter Archive Browser comes in handy. It can automatically delete tweets within a certain time frame or that contain certain keywords.
People in need of more extensive Twitter timeline pruning will want to try Twitter Cleaner, which can automatically remove tweets, retweets, and favorites from an archive. Twitter Cleaner can also remove items from an active timeline, but requires a Twitter developer account.
Organizing specific things, such as photos
What if you’re only interested in specific artifacts from your Twitter account, like photos? While you can’t get around the entire account archive, some tools help surface only the items of interest in that archive.
For example, Twitter Photo Downloader processes your Twitter archive to create a local database of all your photos. It even works for photo galleries and photos from retweets, but not for videos and GIFs. (You’ll see a single still image instead of a GIF.) Twitter Archive Parser is even more stripped down. The tool converts individual tweets in an archive to PDFs for storage purposes.
Well – that’s all the open source tools we’ve seen so far for managing Twitter archives. If we missed one, feel free to email us and we’ll see if we can add it to the list.