How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: Social Websites – Browser-Based Interface versus Desktop Clients

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Most people have a favorite social website that they are active on each day, but have different methods for interacting with their friends there. This week we would like to know if you prefer using a browser-based interface or a desktop client to interact with your chosen social services.


Photo by Asian Angel.

Social services can be a lot of fun unless your method of access comes with more frustrations than perks. Perhaps your favorite social service has changed the layout or the website itself is just too busy or full of “junk” for your tastes. Then there are the times when the website may experience problems and fail to work smoothly.

You could continue to use the website version and tweak what you see and how it functions as much as possible. Or you could install an extension in your favorite browser that opens a sidebar or pop-up window to access the service that way. Maybe you prefer the web app approach introduced by Google for their Chrome browser. At least you do have options when accessing social services through a browser.

Then there are desktop clients…focused on one or a small combination of popular social services. Desktop clients can be really nice…no need to have a browser open, the UI stays rather consistent, you can usually minimize them to the System Tray, and the desktop notifications are awesome.

What we would like to know this week is if you prefer a browser-based approach or using a desktop client to interact with your favorite social websites. Do you use a combination of both? Are browsers the best approach since you use them for literally everything throughout the day? If a browser is your preferred method do you use the website for the social service itself or an extension/web app to interact with it? Perhaps a desktop client works best…there when you need it but out of your way when you do not. Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments! Know of a great extension, web app, or desktop client? Make sure to share it with your fellow readers here.

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Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 02/23/11

Comments (14)

  1. Hatryst

    Apart from browser based interface, I use Facebook Desktop (featured recently on HTG, thanks HTG :) ) and Tweet Deck ;)

  2. Anon

    Where is the option “I dont use any social website”?
    In my opinion Facebook, Twitter and stuff are useless and time-wasting, so I dont use anything of it.

  3. C_3PO

    TweetDeck on my PC’s & Google Android! Depending on my mood I like to use the browser for Facebook, sometimes for Twitter :-P

  4. M_W

    The only time I use a client is when I’m on my ‘droid. If I’m online on a desktop it’s just much easier to go over to the website and do whatever I need to do. Then again, I’m not addicted like most people.

  5. Alendra

    Same as Anon, not using any social networking website either.

  6. Matthew Guay

    On my PC, I usually use the web interface in pinned tabs in Chrome. On iOS, though, I usually just use the apps. For me, the biggest reason I use the web interface is to keep from being distracted. Most desktop apps give you notifications of new messages or tweets, but that ends up being too much noise and distraction. Yes, you could turn notifications off, but for me, the web interfaces usually are preferable. Plus, the New Twitter interface is quite nice. That said, it has been a bit annoying lately…

  7. Tim

    Agree @ Anon

  8. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    I use the websites. Twitter for Android when on the go and Twitter web when I’m on my PC.

  9. ancient one

    agree with Anon

  10. Steve O

    NONE! Facebook and all that eats up time. Plus its pointless.

  11. Steven Torrey

    My time is to valuable for that nonsense!

  12. Fahd

    Well I wouldnt call social networks a complete waste of time. Still I’m not hooked on to them enough to get even browser plugins much less desktop apps. Web interfaces work just fine. On phones its a different thing though. Apps work a lot better there then mobile websites which can get a bit clunky

  13. Darryl

    It’s funny at all of the comments about how they are a complete waste of time but yet those same people took the time to not only read this article but ALSO comment on it!! LOL Weird! You’d think after seeing the title of this post they would skip and not read it!!

  14. rino

    browser based. you don’t have to reinstall anything except the browser. oh no plugins of course.

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