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Benefits of the legacy Twitter desktop website version

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

This list documents the benefits of the legacy version of Twitter's desktop website that has been permanently disabled since Monday, June 1st 2020.[1]

The shutdown was announced on May 8th 2020.[2]

As of June 1st 2020, only the new version of Twitter referred to as “Twitter Web App” will be useable.[3]


The legacy desktop website was introduced in 2014, was slightly modified throughout the years, and remained the primary desktop layout until July 2019. In the tweet source tag, it is referred to as “Twitter Web Client” and not to be confused with the M2 mobile version that is still used as a fallback for outdated and JavaScript-lacking browsers.

The new desktop website, “Twitter Web App”, is the progressive web application that started out in April 2017 as “Twitter Lite”[4] and originally meant as a successor to the “M5” mobile website with the goal of resembling an app-like user experience.


List of the benefits of the legacy version of Twitter's desktop website
Feature Description and Notes
Panoramic banner image The banner image (or header image) of a profile makes use of the browser's full viewport width, looking more panoramic than the tiny wannabe banner in the new version.
The tweet banner in the new Twitter Lite-based desktop website is squished between the left and the right site columns.
Banner parallax scrolling Produces the visual effect of depth: The banner seems more far away than the rest of the page. Can also bee seen in YouTube's polymer design.
Analytics on profile page Shows the number of tweet impressions and a bar chart.
If one's tweets have below 1000 impressions during the last 24 hours, the last week of data will be displayed instead, with each bar in the chart representing one day instead of two hours.
Ability to search the text of tweets of the entire loaded page's portion with the browser's integrated text search feature. The new Twitter layout only allows text searching the visible portion instead of the entire page for text.
Properly saved pages Saved (downloaded) pages based on HTML, such as the legacy Twitter desktop version, can usually be directly viewed in a browser without issues. Progressive web applications such as the new Twitter web app however can not properly be viewed from a saved page due to missing HTML base and possible JavaScript interference, which might vary depending on implementation and browser used, e.g. Instagram's indefinite refresh loop. Information might be retrievable from the HTML source code (if the browser dumped the loaded page source code from the RAM into the downloaded HTML file) and media stored in the dedicated folder or extracted from a MHT file (and other website archival formats).
Time tooltips Hovering above time indicators such as the relative tweet post time (i.e. “16m”) and the account creation date shows the exact time indication, down to the minute.
Exact count tooltips inside .ProfileNav-list The navigation bar that shows the number of tweets, followers, followings, likes, lists and moments shows a tooltip with exact, non-abbreviated counts when hovering on it.
Double-layer tweet viewer Loaded tweets and website outline visible in background while a tweet is being viewed in the foreground.
The website outline includes the 1500×500 profile banner, original 400×400 profile picture, biography text, website link and account creation date (including exact minute in tooltip). This information is included on status pages saved via website archival services.
Page body contents initially loaded through HTML instead of JavaScript / AJAX.
Ability to specify a custom profile accent colour. The exact hexadecimal colour code of the profile's accent colour could be specified by the user. The profile header image used that solid colour in case no header image was uploaded yet.
Thumbnails of users liking and/or retweeting a tweet Shows the profile picture thumbnails of last 10 users who liked and/or retweeted the tweet. Hovering above any of those profile picture thumbnails shows their display name in a tooltip.
Tweet reply count on tweet page itself Shows the count of tweet replies when viewing the page of the tweet itself. (Also referred to as status page.)
When viewed inside a timeline or as a tweet reply, the tweet reply count is still visible on the new Twitter design.
Additional exact like/retweet counts on tweet status page
Flexible grid image viewer in search feature Accessible through search URL parameters ?f=images&vertical=default.
Banner images on profile tooltips and in following/followers lists. Example:
Sensitive media preloaded instead of extraloaded through AJAX/XHR. Media that is marked as “The following media includes potentially sensitive content.” was loaded while loading the initial page, which facilitates web archival.[5]
On the new web app version, the sensitive media will only be loaded after clicking onto the “view” button.
This allows for immediate displaying after clicking and includes more information in pages saved by website archival services.
User profile outline with warning message gets pre-loaded In case of an account blocked by the viewer, restricted or with sensitive content, the profile outline (banner image, profile picture, information under profile picture) got pre-loaded even if not yet displayed on screen.
This allows for immediate displaying after clicking and includes more information in pages saved by website archival services.
Close tweet by clicking outside of it. It let users click outside the tweet to close it; without pressing anything on the keyboard or having to navigate to a small back button.
Translate tweet in the timeline. Translation button for individual tweets in a language different from user's set language was readily available in the timeline view. Now a user has to click the tweet first, which leaves the timeline.
No automatic refresh of timeline The timeline of tweets did not automatically refresh on the legacy Twitter website. An automatic timeline refresh could lead to the unwanted loss of tweets while reading.
On the legacy website, new arriving tweets got queued upon arrival, but not shown yet. A bar with the text “# new results” appeared above the search results. When clicked, the new tweets would show up.
Higher resolution image previews When viewing a tweet in the time line or the status pages, all four attached images are available in a higher resolution, which allows higher quality images to be retrieved from website archives.
Live Broadcast tab on search site The search feature allowed searching specifically for live broadcasts
Non-obfuscated (human-readable) CSS class names The legacy desktop version of Twitter had non-obfuscated, human-readable CSS class names such as “.ProfileAvatar-image”, while the new web app version has randomly generated obfuscated CSS class names such as .r-mtrfb5.
Obfuscated CSS class names, as also used on the 2018 Reddit redesign, prevent users from applying custom style sheets (so-called “user styles”) to the website.
User interface with more contrast More centered areas of the user interface such as the tweet time line are highlighted with a different colour tone.

[note 1]

Further distinctions[edit]

This section describes changes and additional trivia that are more of a matter of preference.

The main navigation bar, formerly a horizontal bar on the top, has been moved to a vertical bar on the left side, similarly to Vlare.TV, which makes it more accessible to tablet users.

For tweet translation, the Twitter web app uses Google's translation service while the legacy website used the translation service of Bing.

Right clicking on an entry in “Trends for you” does not open the context menu for hyperlinks but as if plain text were right-clicked. The middle mouse button originally acted like a left mouse click, but apparently, recent changes in the web app's JavaScript code make it being opened in a new tab, as supposed.

Until 2018, the tweet date and time indicator on Twitter Lite's status page was a hyperlink linking to the status page itself, similarly to Twitter's M2 (legacy mobile) website.

On Twitter's legacy website, the display name and account handle is a hyperlink to the profile itself.

Clicking the profile picture on the legacy Twitter desktop website directly links to the picture file of the profile picture.[6], while clicking the profile header (banner) does nothing on the legacy Twitter.

On the new Twitter web application, it opens both the profile picture and the header in a dedicated picture viewer, respectively with “/photo” or “/header_photo” added after the user name in the profile URL, e.g.”.

Other removed features[edit]

Feature Removal date Description Notes
Legacy tweet archival Early 2019 Tweet inside archive with JavaScript-powered offline client-side pagination tweet browser.
  • The new GDPR §20-style tweet archival feature since early 2018 includes more information but no convenient offline tweet browser.with client-side pagination and a monthly calendar showing tweet counts.
  • Both tweet archival variants co-existed until early 2019.
Profile picture thumbnails of followed users 2011 redesign Profile picture thumbnail of followed users in former right side bar with profile information. Example
Previous tweet and next tweet shortcut buttons Early 2017 On the tweet status page, there were buttons to the left and right of a tweet Introduced in 2014. Example tweet. Still used on Instagram.
M2 Mobile Web December 16th 2020 Legacy mobile version of Twitter's website.
  • Notice on legacy site prior to removal: This is the legacy version of We will be shutting it down on 16 December 2020. Please switch to a supported browser or device. You can see a list of supported browsers in our Help Center.
    • The expiration date in this notice originally read 15 December 2020, but on that day, it was postponed one day farther.
  • Most lightweight version. Able to work without JavaScript or AJAX, and least stress on batteries, which are mostly not replaceable in mobile devices as of 2020.
  • Offered as fallback site for JavaScript-less browsers (e.g. due to script blockers used in unsafe environments) prior to deactivation.
  • Removal may end compatibility with existing software such as user scripts and third-party apps relying on information in the HTML source code.
  • Its max_id URL parameter allowed showing tweets in a timeline offset from the given ID and show_media to display sensitive media (of videos, only a preview picture), as well as the cursor URL parameter for account ID offset in lists of account followings and followers, which could also be accessed without being logged in.
  • It never hid replies behind a Show more replies button which works using HTTP POST, making web archival of tweet replies difficult.

Comparisons to other sites[edit]


Although using dynamic serving by default, Reddit allows users to manually access their preferred version of the site through URLs:



  1. Disclaimer: This list does not imply that the new version has no benefits (e.g. it has bookmarks, a more sophisticated media viewer, image browser with URL updating, tweet URLs of last 6 photos on profil page direct message browser with URL updating, shows the tweet source label that was removed from the desktop site in 2012, and has better support for responsive web design, “Relevant people” section with profil pictures and user titles and biography texts of people participating in a thread), but it implies that the freedom of choice is beneficial.

See also[edit]

Related navigation boxes: ElectronicsMobile phonesData storageUser experience and user interfaces


  1. “Twitter shuts down legacy site and forces new theme on everyone” – BleepingComputer news on 2020-06-01
  2. Twitter's announcement of the legacy desktop website shutdown on 2020-05-08.
  3. When viewing the legacy desktop version on Twitter, the following notice is visible at the top of the page: “This is the legacy version of We will be shutting it down on 1st June, 2020. Please switch to a supported browser, or disable the extension which masks your browser. You can see a list of supported browsers in our Help Center.”.
  4. Twitter Lite introduced in company blog (April 2017)
  5. Twitter Was Already Difficult To Archive, Now It's Worse! (2020-07-15 article by KritikaGarg, Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group)
  6. Legacy Twitter profile picture links to picture file