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How to Archive Your Favorite Tweets

archives[This is a guest post by Lee Skallerup Bessette, who teaches in the English department at Morehead State University. Her blog is College Ready Writing, and you can follow her on Twitter at @readywriting. --@JBJ]

We recently heard the great news that once again we can start using If This, Then That (IFTTT) to archive the tweets that we favorite. The problem is, how do you archive those tweets that were favorited during the period that IFTTT wasn’t working, or if you’re like me, you never started using IFTTT to begin with?

This is a particular problem for me because I am continually using Twitter to collect resources for my research and teaching. This semester for example, I’m teaching a new class on Games and Play, and over the summer collected tweets that were filled with resources, links, journals, and blogs. I was also collecting tweets to do with my research, my attendance at conferences, and anything else I thought was interesting that I wanted to come back to later.

What I was looking for, ideally, was something that would allow me to download my long, long list of favorite tweets and then organize and search them a little more easily. I already have an archive of all my tweets (as per Mark Sample’s example) but it doesn’t save the favorites, and unless I retweeted it, the tweet won’t be in my personal twitter archive. Because of all the fun times with Twitter’s API continually changing, something that may have worked in the (recent) past, like IFTTT, won’t necessarily work now.

I’m pretty sure this is a case in point with the first solution I tried. I started by simply Googling the problem (“export favorite tweets” – because, well, LMGTFY) and was presented with twdocs.com. The description of the site was promising, but as soon as I tried to log in using my Twitter account, I got an error message. According to this article, it was working as of last September, but it no longer seems to be working now (their Twitter account has been inactive since 2009). That’s really too bad because of all the tools I tried, this one held the most promise in terms of what I wanted to accomplish.

Another trick I tried was to use Storify to import all of my favorite tweets, but I kept breaking Storify; I had just too many favorite tweets. These are the limitations of a lot of the free resources out there for archiving Tweets. I don’t know if the same thing would have happened had I paid for the new Premium services that Storify now offers.

Next I went to Twitter to find a solution. Most of the suggestions had to do with archiving my personal tweets, or hashtags, but not the tweets that I have favorited. Two possible solutions that didn’t come up in the Google Search were TwitterScribe and tweetbook.in. TwitterScribe certainly does what I want it to insofar as it allows me to export, but it only will go as far back as 298 favorites. It will keep updating that file automatically, which is great moving forward, but I’m still stuck without my literally thousands of past favorite tweets.

This brings me to Tweetbook.in. It creates of PDF “ebook” of all of my favorite tweets. They are arranged chronologically and it divides them by date. I ended up with an almost 500 page PDF document, but there they were, finally, in one (simple) searchable place. I like the layout, it’s easy to read, and it’s interactive (in other words, all links are still live). I can’t organize the tweets, but at least I have them all now and can start purging so I can start again with a different client. The downside is that they try to trick you into downloading or signing up for a lot of garbage. Make sure you click on the right link, and only the right link.

Finally, because he is a hero of all things Twitter-archive related, Martin Hawksey has come up with a patch of sorts of his Twitter Archive Google Spreadsheet specifically for archiving favorite tweets. Getting the spreadsheet set up the very first time can be tricky, because of Twitter’s newest API, but if you follow the same directions he provides in his post about setting up the general Twitter Archive spreadsheet, you can get it to work. At the moment, the spreadsheet only goes back and grabs 200 of your last favorite Tweets, but I had a conversation with Martin to the effect that he will be fixing it to go all the way back. This is a great option because it will continue to archive your favorite Tweets in a shareable, exportable spreadsheet. But, it might not be the best option for everyone as it can be a little tricky to set up initially.

So there you go, some solutions to your Favorite Tweet issues. Let us know in the comments if you have any other ways to grab and export all of your past Favorite Tweets!

Photo “Archives” by Flickr user Michal Janček / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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