How to change your Twitter username
Here's how to change your Twitter handle from @OldName to @NewName without losing your followers, tweet history, or losing access to your old handle. From your followers' perspective, the change will be totally seamless, and it can be done in less than 10 minutes.
Here's a synopsis:
- create a new Twitter account with a @JunkName handle you don't care about
- change your @OldName account to @NewName, keeping your followers and tweet history intact (releasing your @OldName into the wild)
- use the new Twitter account you made to quickly grab @OldName before anyone else has a chance to take it
One thing to note: Because of the way Twitter handles conversations, changing your username won't retroactively change @mentions directed toward you from other people. This means that people you've conversed with will seemingly be talking to a ghost at @OldName instead of you at @NewName. Considering the "in-the-now" nature of Twitter this isn't really a showstopper, just a mild inconvenience that'll lessen over time.
In the example below, I'll be changing the old @Thinkertry handle for this site to the new @thinkerbit.
First, create a brand new Twitter account with a junk handle you don't care about. Something like "testing873626" is fine. Make the password strong, because eventually this will be the account that holds your @OldName for safe-keeping.
Here's what your account page will look like:
Now sign out of that account (or open up another web browser) and sign into your @OldName Twitter account. Head to your account page, which will look like this:
Replace the username in that first box with the one you want, and you'll see an "Available!" confirmation message.
Click the big blue "Save changes" button at the bottom and you'll be asked to re-enter your password to confirm the change.
Confirm your password, hit "Save changes" and a yellow banner will let you know that your settings have been saved. Your username is now officially changed.
If you need to change your "real" name (First & Last), which in my case still says Thinkertry, head over to your main profile page and click the "Edit profile" button. Change your name from there and hit "Save changes". The Twitter account you care about is now perfectly set up.
To maintain control of your @OldName, log back into the new Twitter account you made with the temporary handle and go to the account page. Change the username to your @OldName and it'll show as available. Old usernames are made available to the world the very instant someone changes their name, and as far as I can tell there's no time limit or name change limit either.
Click "Save changes" just as before, and head over to your profile again to tweak the account's name and description. It may also be a good idea to make one tweet from this account directing people to the @NewName account. None of your followers will see this (because they're following @NewName now), but anyone who visits your old account URL will be more likely to notice the change and follow you in the right place.
And that's it! Not as hard as I thought it would be, and my many single digits of followers are none the wiser.