Realmac Software – Socialite review

check social networks from a single Mac program
Photo of Realmac Software – Socialite

Social networking shows no signs of losing its appeal and many of us have become resigned to having multiple browser windows or tabs open in all weathers as we flip between Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google Reader, Digg or whatever. Socialite (actually a revamped version of an older program called EventBox) is a program that allows Mac users to aggregate all their social networks under one roof, thus making it easier to keep track of what’s going on.

Socialite works like this: add a service and it appears in the column on the left, while any actual content is displayed in the main window. Each service comes with a set of default filters for looking at the various tweets, diggs, updates and feeds: Facebook, for example, includes Status Updates, Friends Photos and My Photos. Although you can’t create your own filters, you can uncheck any of the defaults you don’t want to see.

Setting up services is quick and easy but it would be nice if there was a more visual way to distinguish between them: it’s easier than you think to click Facebook when you mean Twitter, and vice versa. Each entry or update can be read in situ in the main window or you can jump to the original site by double-clicking it. There are also little icons to the right of each entry that allow you to access different features: display a photo full size, re-tweet something, copy and e-mail links, flag something for further investigation, create a public or private reply, share a story from Google Reader and so on.

At first Socialite looks and feels like an almighty mess. There’s too much information on the screen, everywhere you look there are new status updates, new stories from feeds, new photos, tweets… somebody make it stop!

Things aren’t helped by the tiny, hard-to-decipher icons and the company’s decision not to include a manual of any kind (the online documentation and FAQs are a poor substitute). With time, however, Socialite swims into focus and you start to get the hang of the way things work and appreciate the idea of consolidating everything into a single space like this instead of having to jump from browser tab to browser tab.

We liked the heads-up display which overlays updates on top of other windows before fading away discreetly, and the Quick Send dialogue which floats above other apps and lets you fire off an update message whenever it occurs to you.

It’s important that you’re well acquainted with how Facebook and its ilk work before diving into Socialite because if you’re not, there’ll be scratched heads a-plenty while you work out what’s going on.

At the same time, aficionados of social networking will discover that not all the features of their favourite service have been implemented: for example, there’s currently no support for Facebook fan pages and no way to tell when another Facebook user is online and chat ‘live’ to them. It doesn’t even flag you properly when new comments are added to your status. That said, regular (rather than heavy) users of multiple social networking sites will probably feel that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Company: Realmac Software

This release of Socialite is a good start. Well-priced, it offers a consolidated view of the major, popular social networking sites and lets you read, share and post to them all. However, the missing manual makes it harder to use than it should be and, because it doesn't yet support every feature of those services it includes, you should check to see that your favourite one isn't missing before you buy. Oh, and make sure your Mac is properly password protected, otherwise anyone can walk up and start rummaging through your social life.