How to use Mastodon without feeling lost

Eva Amsen 🔬🎶
5 min readAug 2

So the social media hellsc…sorry, landscape is a bit chaotic these days. Like many people, I decided to stop using Twitter as much as possible and have been exploring alternatives. One of the places that clicked with me was Mastodon. To be honest, I tried it a few years ago as well and didn’t really grasp it at the time, but this time I got it.

Now, many people in my circles are actually on Bluesky and I haven’t really been interested in that because it’s such a walled garden. I can’t see what’s happening there, so how would I know if I like it?

Then I realised, the same is true for Mastodon. Yes, it’s open and you don’t need invites to join, but everyone’s Mastodon experience looks very different. I can sort of understand why people were intimidated by the server choice and never signed up, but I didn’t understand why people who joined left. Recently, Erin Kissane did a bit of asking around and now I get it a bit better.

One of the reasons seems to be that people just didn’t really find their people, or found it hard to follow people. I haven’t had this problem, and really the only thing that I would recommend is to set up the “advanced web interface” in Mastodon’s settings. This is how I mainly use Mastodon and it solves so many problems.

But let me just show you, through some screenshots of what it looks like for me when I use Mastodon:

screenshot of the first three columns of Mastodon advanced web interface

The image above are the first three columns of the way that I’ve set up my advanced web interface. It’s customisable, although the last column (not shown here) is always last, which is honestly the only thing that annoys me about it. But above you see the column where I can post, reply or search, the column with the feed of people I subscribed to and the column with notifications. This is exactly how I had Tweetdeck set up so it was super familiar.

Screenshot of four more columns in the Mastodon advanced web interface. Each column shows search results for different hashtags.

Scrolling on to the right, you see the start of my many “pinned columns”. All of these are for hashtag searches for topics that I found interesting. (The first one is a music column because it always cheers me up before we get to the more serious stuff but you can obviously choose…

Eva Amsen 🔬🎶

Writer, science communicator, musician. Find more of my writing at, Undark, Nature, Nautilus, The Scientist, Hakai and other places.