Here's how to become the ultimate Tumblr power user
Admit it—another year has passed, and you still don’t know how to use Tumblr. Many of the tips we published last year were nullified in changes made after the Yahoo buyout and Tumblr’s subsequent cleanup of its pages in an attempt to boost its mobile apps.
In place of the old hacks and features, new ones have sprung up. The beloved “Missing E” is now more or less defunct thanks to its incompatibility with Tumblr’s upgrades—it hasn’t been updated since March of last year. In its stead, Tumblr users have embraced XKit, a third-party extension that enhances Tumblr functionality to an impressive degree. Best of all, Tumblr doesn’t even berate you for using it!
Tumblr has upgraded as well. Gone are the old photo limits and manual tagging in your posts. Tumblr’s search functionality is a curated wealth of photos, and a recently introduced notifications feature is a hit.
Basic Tumblr tips
1) Grab a link to a Tumblr post from your dash
Although this feature is quick and easy, you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize they can grab a permalink to a post straight from their dash. Look for the flappy corner!
2) Reblog as text
You know it, we know it, Tumblr knows it: no one has ever, ever wanted to reblog a text post as a link. But somehow that pesky feature persists. Here’s how to avoid it: Just click “reblog as” in the corner of the post, then switch to “Text.” Voila!
3) Mention friends in posts
This recently released feature lets Tumblr users @-mention each other in posts.
4) Know your limits
Most of the limits we discussed in last year’s tips are still in effect:
- The posting limit. You can only post around 250 posts in a given day.
- The friending limit. As many people discovered during the Mishapocalypse, you can only friend around 250 people on Tumblr in a day.
- The queue limit. The queue can only hold about 250 posts at one time.
- The ask limit. You can only send 10 asks within a single hour, and only five of them can be anonymous.
But the most important limit of all is still...
5) The tag limit
This Tumblr rule is hard and fast: Only the first five tags in a post are searchable. That means that only the first five tags will show up for a user who’s trying to browse or track tags on Tumblr. If you want people outside your dash to see your post about figure skating during the Olympics, you need to make sure that “figure skating” is one of the first five tags you use in your post.
This also means that if you want to be able to find your own post later by searching your tags, only the first five tags you use will be searchable. Try it yourself and see!
Maybe one day soon Tumblr will list the “first five tags only” rule, but for now, we’re stuck with it. Learn to navigate it—or else be constantly confused about why your favorite posts aren’t showing up under tag searches.
. . .
1) Know where to go to find Tumblr updates and how-tos
- Follow staff.tumblr.com for major updates and sitewide changes, as well as Tumblr community news
- Follow hellofromtumblr for a colorful demonstration of how to use Tumblr’s features and newest updates. This is especially pertinent if you’re a heavy mobile user.
- Visit the Tumblr tips page. Although it’s been hoarding its useful secrets for years, including nifty keyboard shortcuts (did you know you can use the letters “J” and “K” to quickly scroll your dash?), many Tumblr users still don’t know this page is there.
2) Skip the search bar and view tags the old-fashioned way
Tumblr overhauled its search function last July to clean up its mobile app. When you use its search engine, you now get a clean, but incomplete list of recent posts related to the topic at hand:
Unfortunately, if you want to avoid this—and so far it seems like most Tumblr users we’ve spoken with do—the only workaround is a manual one. Luckily for you, it’s easy: Just replace “search” in the url with “tagged/[your keyword].”
3) Hop back in time using a simple conversion method
We learned this trick from Tumblr user lsmoments, who figured out that the search string at the end of any given backdated Tumblr tag wasn’t just random numbers, but a UNIX Timestamp.
If you want to see what people were saying about One Direction a few years ago, for example, just plug the desired date into any Unix Timestamp converter. Then replace the tag string with “?before=[unixtimestamp]” and see the date you want to for that tag:
One of the best parts of XKit is that it allows you to track what people are saying in reblogs and tags of posts—something otherwise impossible except for posts with only a few notes. It also lets you shuffle your queue, mute users, see profile info, and implement a vast array of tricks and customizations to make Tumblr easier for you to use.
Here are some of our favorite XKit features, specifically the ones that let you read and filter your dash more easily, and follow the conversations being had around Tumblr.
1) The Blacklist
You can also do this with perennial Tumblr favorite Tumblr Savior, but if you don’t want to clutter up your life with multiple extensions, XKit saves you the trouble. Install the extension and the blacklist takes immediate effect. Click “show it anyway” to show the post. XKit also gives you the option of showing tags on blacklisted posts to give you an idea of what you’re missing.
2) Tag Viewer
Can we just say that this extension changed our Tumblr lives? We call it a must-have because using Tag Viewer, you can actually see what people are saying in tags without ever having to leave your dash or post view. First, install Tag Viewer. (If you don't know how to do that, here's a GIF illustration.) Then click the Tag Viewer icon at the bottom of your post on your dash or post view, and watch the magic happen!
3) Reply Viewer
If the Tag Viewer changed our lives, then the Reply Viewer is like that extra dollop of colorful frosting on the cake of life, telling us we deserve to have nice things. In this case, the nice thing is that you can see what kinds of additional commentary people are leaving on posts.
Just install the extension, then click on the Reply Viewer icon at the bottom of each post on your dash to see the replies:
Between Tag Viewer and Reply Viewer, Tumblr users have a way of actually following conversations across the website. This is like all your Christmases come early, guys. It's OK, you can go try them out right now. We'll wait.
4) Post Block
Are you a hater? Sure you are. And now every time you run across a post you just hate, you can just block it and forget about it. Install Post Block through XKit, then click the block post icon at the bottom of the post on your dash. Marvel as your dash achieves zen.
If you aren’t an XKit user, the standalone Tumblr extension “Tumblr Hate” will also let you do this.
5) Rename User
Let’s face it, we all have different usernames across multiple social network platforms, and with a lot of people on your dash it can be difficult to remember who’s who. Now XKit’s “Profiler” extension lets you add a note for a person on your dash, so that you can give them any label you want to help you remember who they are.
First, install Profiler in XKit. Then click on a user’s avatar (or the lowercase “i” icon in the menu if you’re on her Tumblr page) to pull up the Profiler extension. From there, you can rename her to whatever you like.
The “Profiler” extension also does other cool stuff like show whether a person is following you or not. Pretty nifty, huh?
6) Tag Wrapping
If you love long tags but hate how frustrating it is to read them on your dash, this extension will make you happy. Just install XKit, click “Tweaks,” and select “Wrap Tags.” Then watch tags become readable while you scroll.
7) View on Dash
There are times when it’s really useful to view a Tumblr on your dashboard. For one thing, when you use the other XKit extensions in this article, you can follow conversations around the posts of your favorite Tumblr users more easily. Here’s how it works. Download the “View on Dash” extension from XKit, then find the option in your dashboard sidebar. Type in the username you want to view, and enjoy!
8) Go to Dash
This one’s a little tricky, and it doesn’t work 100 percent of the time. (Hey, not even XKit is perfect). But if you’re looking at a Tumblr post page and you’re eager to read reblogs, tags, and other related XKit functions, this little extension is a godsend. Install the “Go-To-Dash” extension. Then, when you’re reading a Tumblr post on someone’s journal, click “View” in their user menu. This will give you a look at the post as if it just showed up on your dash. Once you’re viewing the post on your dash, you can use all the other Tumblr extensions detailed in this article to read and follow even more conversations on your favorite social network.
Are there other must-know tips you think we’ve left out? Let us know, or better yet, follow us on our Tumblr and tell us there!
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw contributed to this report.
Photo via roshellin/openclipart | GIFs by Aja Romano