Brevity is the soul of wit, and it’s also important if you tweet a lot. Twitter’s 140 character limit is often a challenge, especially if you’re retweeting or quoting a tweet. The struggle to remain comprehensible, not misquote someone, and add enough reference that people know what you’re tweeting about is one that has many pulling their hair out. Tweetshort is a tiny web app that helps us shorten our tweets so that they fit in the 140 character limit, much like previously reviewed iOS app TweetShrink. The tool lets you type in your tweet and then shrinks it the best it can. Shrinking is done in much the same way we would do it, i.e. dropping out certain characters from a word, using numbers to replace words where possible, and using shorter, misspelled versions of words that are commonly used on the internet.
Type in or paste the tweet that’s too long for Twitter on Tweetshort and click the ‘Preview’ button. Within seconds, the app will show you a shortened version of your tweet and mention how many characters you’ve saved. The tweet I tested the app with was 10 characters above the 140 limit and the shortened version brought it down to being just one character above limit.
The app doesn’t guarantee that your tweet will fit into the 140 character limit, but it saves you some time by replacing common words with shortened ones. You might still need to make some changes yourself, since the app can’t really understand grammar. For instance, it couldn’t decide that it is can be changed to it’s. It also doesn’t change spelled out numbers into numerical characters.
If the app does succeed in shortening the tweet to proper length, you can click the ‘Post to Twitter’ button and tweet it, but here’s where a problem with the app comes in: it doesn’t show you the character count for your original tweet as well as the shortened one. This means you’ll have to open Twitter in a different tab and paste the tweet there to check the length. If you think the app is useful but could do with a larger vocabulary, click the ‘Suggest shortwords’ button and add words of your own. Perhaps in a while and with enough input from users, the app will be able to do a better job of shortening tweets. Ideally, it’s best if the app could develop an extension since it will save users the trouble of switching between two tabs to post one tweet.