Getting Started on Twitter


Welcome to Twitter Support!

Submitted Jan 14 in Getting Started

We’re here to help 

Welcome to Twitter Support’s homepage.  Access help articles, read about known issues, and request help if you have problems.  Like most things, Twitter may seem strange if you’ve never used it.  We love this video from Howcast; it cover all of the Twitter basics.

After watching this, you’ll get the gist of how Twitter works, and if you have more questions, you’ll know what to look for in our Help Resources!

Please, help yourself…

Having problems? Please check the Known Issues pages and the Status Blog before submitting a request to see if we already know about it– we track new cases in the comments there, so you can add comments of your own.

We encourage you try to help yourself; Twitter is a free service, and while we try to provide as much help as we can, we provide Help Resources because we can’t get to every email.

If it takes awhile to get a response, please be patient.  If we haven’t been able to answer your question in a timely manner, we’ll let you know.

Using Help Resources

Twitter’s help resources are always accessible in the sidebar of your Support home page.

  • Getting Started New to Twitter?  Check out our Getting Started articles to get a feel for the basics. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try using the search box.
  • Known Issues Find out what problems or bugs affect Twitter people today
  • Trouble Shooting Check out common problems, and how to resolve them
  • Terms of Service and Rules and Policies Use our Rules and Policies section to learn about what Twitter does about Spam, Impersonation, Trademark, Copyright and other Terms of Service or Rules violations, and find out what you need to do to resolve a violation.

Want to contribute?

We’ve got some of the basics but if there is something you’d like to see that’s not here yet, we’d love to hear your feedback about making help as helpful as possible.

If you’ve written or created something helpful about using Twitter and posted it your website, blog, or elsewhere, let us know!  Submit a ticket and choose “other” from the drop down box, and include a link to your article or video, and we’ll try to check it out!

Find people on Twitter: Twitter Search!

Submitted Nov 06, 2008 in Getting Started

Find your friends and make some new ones

Twitter is more fun with friends. Now that you’re twittering, find new friends or follow people you already know to get their twitter updates too. You can find your friends using people search, Twitter search, address book import, or URL look up.

Find People by name

Use Twitter’s people search to find people who currently use Twitter.  Search for a first, last, or user name as a starting point, and see what comes up. We use the full name as well as the user name fields to give you as many relevant results as possible.


To use people search, click on the ‘Find People’ link in the top navigation bar, and select the ‘Find on Twitter’ tab. If you don’t find who you’re looking for, dig deeper using some of the options suggested in the sidebar.

Find people using keywords, location, interests, and more!

A tiny, hidden gem lies in Twitter’s footer navigation bar: Twitter Search!  Twitter search is an incredible tool that allows you to find virtually anything and anyone by adding the ability to search for key words, locations, phrases, and more!  Type in any word and you’re guaranteed to get real time results.

  • Want to know what people think of a new movie?  Try searching for it.
  • Search for any phrase (‘I dreamt‘ is an interesting one)
  • Want to know what people are saying about your company? Try a keyword search.
  • Wondering who sends tweets from your area? Try searching for ‘location:cityname’ to see a list of people who are from that city.

The results you get from Twitter show what people are saying and doing right now!


You can translate foreign language updates into English, filter by language, post a Twitter update linking to interesting search results, and even subscribe to search results (this is like tracking keywords, but on the web!)

We also keep track of the most popular topics, called “trending topics”  so you’ll always know what people are excited about.

But that’s not all: check out Advanced Search to do some truly amazing things, like find people within 15 miles of a given location, find updates by positive or negative connotation, find updates to a certain person or from a certain person, or even updates within a specified time period.

Find people on other networks

We can check a list of your contacts to see if any of them are currently using Twitter.  You can check address books from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, and AOL.  (We’ll support more networks in the future!)  We’ll show you who is on Twitter and you can choose to follow them if you want to get their Twitter updates.


To import an address book, visit the Find People link.  The tab is already selected for you, just type in your email address and password.  Note: Twitter doesn’t save your email log in information, we only use it once to get permission to view your contacts list.

    Twitter, Help!

    Did something go wrong? Let us know!

    The Official Twitter Text Commands

    Submitted Nov 06, 2008 in Getting Started

    The Official Twitter Commands

    Did you know: you can perform certain actions, like following or marking a friend’s update as a favorite, by using the designated Twitter commands?  Use the commands listed below from your phone, the web update box, or your favorite third party application.

    Turning Twitter off and on: device notifications

    • ON: turns ALL phone notifications on.
    • OFF: turns ALL phone notifications off.
    • STOP, QUIT: stops all messages to your phone immediately
    • ON username: turns on notifications for a specific person on your phone. For example, ON alissa.
    • OFF username: turns off notifications for a specific person on your phone. For example, OFF blaine.
    • FOLLOW username: this command allows you to start receiving notifications for a specific person on your phone. Example: follow jeremy
    • LEAVE username: this command allows you to stop receiving notifications for a specific person on your phone. Example: leave benfu

    Fun Stuff: friends, favorites, and stats!

    There’s more to Twitter than OFF and ON! Use the commands below to send private messages, mark updates as favorites, or even remind someone to update their Twitter page if you’re wondering what they’re doing!
    • @username + message
    • directs a twitter at another person, and causes your twitter to save in their “replies” tab.
      Example: @meangrape I love that song too!

    • D username + message
    • sends a person a private message that goes to their device, and saves in their web archive.
      Example: d krissy want to pick a Jamba Juice for me while you’re there?

    • WHOIS username
    • retrieves the profile information for any public user on Twitter.
      Example: whois jack

    • GET username
    • retrieves the latest Twitter update posted by the person.
      Example: get goldman

    • NUDGE username
    • reminds a friend to update by asking what they’re doing on your behalf.
      Example: nudge biz

    • FAV username
    • marks a person’s last twitter as a favorite. (hint: reply to any update with FAV to mark it as a favorite if you’re receiving it in real time)
      Example: fav al3x

    • STATS
    • this command returns your number of followers, how many people you’re following, and your bio information.

    • INVITE phone number
    • will send an SMS invite to a friend’s mobile phone.
      Example: Invite 415 555 1212

    Noteworthy Facts

    • using on/off username from your phone only stops notifications to the place the command comes from; you’ll still collect a person’s updates on the web.
    • using follow/leave username from your phone is the same as using on/off username
    • following someone from a phone for the first time will also cause you to follow them on the web
    • there is no way to stop following a person on the web without visiting their profile and removing them. The off, leave, stop, and quit commands will only disable updates for the device(s) from which they were sent.
    • you don’t have to use ON/OFF username from the phone, you can also set individual notifcations from a person’s profile page, or check your following page and manage all phone notification settings there.

    Questions?  Ask us!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Submitted Nov 04, 2008 in Getting Started

    Getting to know Twitter

    What is it?
    Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.  People write short updates, often called “tweets”  of 140 characters or fewer.  These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search.

    Do I need anything special to use it?

    All you need to use Twitter is an internet connection or a mobile phone. Join us here! Once you’re in, type your first update into the web box.  To get an idea of what other people are saying or doing on Twitter, check out Twitter search to see what Twitter’s all about.  You can search by keyword or just check out the trending topics to what’s hot on Twitter right now.

    How do I find my friends?

    When you create an account, you can search for people by name or user name, import friends from other networks, or invite friends via email.  If you don’t want to do that, follow some of the people we’ve suggested. Once you’ve found your friends, follow them to start getting their updates.

    What does it mean to follow someone on Twitter?

    Following someone simply means receiving their Twitter updates.   When you follow someone, every time they post a new message, it will appear in your Twitter home page.  New messages are added to your home page as people post them, so you always get the updates in real time.  When you log in, you can see what the latest updates are.  Twitter offers other ways to follow people too: you can get updates from certain people on your phone!

    How do I know who I’m following?

    After you click the follow button on someone’s profile, you’re following them.  The follow button will change to a box that says “Following” with a drop down option to remove a person if you want to. If you’ve registered your phone with Twitter, you can set up text preferences for a person as well.  See a list of people you’re following by clicking on the following link on your profile or your home page’s sidebar.

    How do I know who is following me?

    Twitter sends you an email when someone new follows you.  Set up your email preferences to notify you when you have a new follower.  The followers link on your profile page or home page’s sidebar will also tell you how many followers you have.

    What are follow limits?

    Twitter recently added follow and update limits for stability and abuse control.  You can read more about this here.

    Who reads my updates? 

    It’s up to you.  Your followers read your updates, and anyone else who comes across them in a search.  All public updates are posted to the public timeline (accessible from your home page in the Everyone tab.) Your Twitter profile is public by default; if you’re hesitant to have strangers read your updates, protect your profile to approve followers and keep your updates out of search.

    Can I block people from following me?

    Yes, you can. If you block someone, they wont be able to follow you or send you any messages.  If your account is public, they’ll still be able to view it, but they wont show up on your followers list, and you wont be on their following list.  If it’s a spammer you’re blocking, thanks!  Twitter Support keeps an eye on block reports to see who’s getting in trouble on Twitter.

    How can I send updates to Twitter?

    Twitter offers many ways to post updates: from the web in the update box, from your phone,  from your mobile web browser using, or from any third party application made by the talented folks who’ve utilized our API.

    Why is there a star at the end of updates?

    The star is a way for you to mark an update as favorite.  People can view your favorites, and you theirs, by clicking on the Favorites link in the profile page.

    Can I put my Twitter updates on my blog?

    Yep! Put a Twitter badge on your blog, website, MySpace… anything that accepts Javascript or HTML.  You can even customize your Twitter badge to match!

    What are @Replies?

    An @reply is a public message sent from one person to another, distinguished from normal updates by the @username prefix. If a message begins with @username, we collect it as a reply. Reply publicly to any update on Twitter by using the @username format.  Following is not necessary to reply to someone, and all of your replies are visible in the @username tab in your home page sidebar.  (Tweets with @username elsewhere in the tweet are also collected in your sidebar tab; tweets starting with @username are replies, and tweets with @username elsewhere are considered mentions.)

    What are Direct Messages?

    Direct messages are private messages sent from one Twitter person to another.  You can only send a direct message to a person who follows you.  When you receive a direct message, we save it in your direct message inbox, accessible from the Direct Message tab in the sidebar in your home page.  Set your email preferences to notify you by mail if you have a new message.

    Can I edit a tweet once I post it?

    Nope. Once it’s out there, you can’t edit it.  You can delete an update by clicking the trash icon on the right end of the update, but you can’t make changes.

    What is the difference between an @reply and a direct message?

    An @reply is a public message sent regardless of follow-ship that anyone can view.  A direct message can only be sent by someone you follow, and is a private message that only the author and recipient can view.

    What does RT, or retweet, mean?

    RT is short for retweet, and indicates a re-posting of someone else’s tweet.  This isn’t an official Twitter command or feature, but people add RT somewhere in a tweet to indicate that part of their tweet includes something they’re re-posting from another person’s tweet, sometimes with a comment of their own.Check out this great article on re-tweeting, written by a fellow Twitter user, @ruhanirabin.

    How do I post a picture to Twitter?

    Twitter doesn’t offer an official picture posting feature of its own, however, most people use a third party application called TwitPic. Just enter your Twitter user name and password to get an email address you can send pictures to.  Or, upload your photos directly to Twitpic from other apps or from the web, and post them to Twitter that way. Like Twitter, Twitpic has a public timeline of everyone’s photos, and you also get your own profile page for pictures you’ve posted. (Check out Britt’s pics as an example.)

    Note: Twitter doesn’t officially support Twitpic, but you can follow Twipic on Twitter to find out the latest updates!

    Why wont my feed reader take my @reply RSS feed?

    The @replies RSS feed requires authentication; most web-based feed readers don’t support authentication.  If yours doesn’t, you wont be able to see your @replies via rss feed.  Try the feed in a desktop feed reader, which usually supports authentication.

    Is there a Twitter API?

    Yes, complete with documentation and an active developer group to help you with common API questions.  You can find it at the bottom of your logged-in homepage, here.

    I’m an app developer, how do I get white listed?

    Send a request to white list your application from the API Wiki, here.

    Does Twitter allow html in web updates?

    No.  We escape all html for security purposes.  However, if you paste in a link that is less than 30 characters, we’ll post it in its entirety.  If it’s longer than 30 characters, we’ll convert it to a shorter URL.

    How do I report spam?

    Report spam by following Twitter’s spam account, and sending us a direct message.  We’ll look into it right away!

    Why are accounts suspended?

    Accounts are suspended for Terms of Service violations or spam investigation.  Read more about this here.

    Where can I find out more information about Twitter’s Terms of Service?

    Twitter’s Terms of Service is posted on the site, and the Twitter Rules are posted in the Support home page.  Check out Twitter’s Terms of Service and Rules policies here.

    How do I submit a complaint about copyright, impersonation, trademark, or other Terms of Service issues?

    Review our Terms of Service section to find out what constitutes a violation, and how to go about fixing a related problem.

    What is Get Satisfaction?

    Get Satisfaction is a great site that people use to help each other figure out problems on Twitter.  They call it “people powered customer service” because people are there, helping each other out.  If you’re looking for help using Twitter from other Twitter users, this is a great resource. If you’re looking for official Twitter Support, you’ll find it by clicking on the Help link from

    Is there a place where I can find out if there are problems with Twitter?

    Yes.  Check (and subscribe to!) Support’s Known Issues page, read the Twitter Status Blog, or follow @twitter.  To unsubscribe, click on the link from the email, or visit the forum again and unsubscribe there.

    Still wondering about something?  Check out our help resources for more information!

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    About author

    Jarrett Gucci
    Jarrett Gucci 289 posts

    Jarrett Gucci is the owner of Dynasty Web Solutions. A full service Internet presence provider specializing in WordPress development for business owners. Jarrett Gucci along with his team of professionals have designed over 400 WordPress websites. Jarrett Gucci believes strongly in creating websites that are unique, functional and generate referrals.

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