Way back in 1995, the movie "Hackers" had some laughable one-liners, but there were some other aspects of early online culture the movie nailed. Take, for example, the character Joey, the youngest and least experienced hacker of the group, and his earnest outburst, "I need a handle, man. I don’t have an identity until I have a handle."
It’s as cringeworthy now as it was then, to be sure, but not without an element of truth, and it still rings true 25 years later. For most of us, though, our Twitter handles aren’t as consequential as a notorious hacker’s.
On Twitter, you’re identified in two ways. Your username — or handle — is your unique identifier, beginning with the @ symbol. Your handle can be up to 15 characters long. It shows up in your own tweets, in your replies to other Twitter users and in your direct messages.
Your handle cannot be the same as another user’s handle, and if you try to change yours to a handle that’s already in use, Twitter will prompt you to choose something else.
The other way you’re identified is by your display name, which you can also change at any time, and doesn’t have to be unique from other users’ display names. This name can contain up to 30 characters. If you’re a verified Twitter user, the coveted blue check mark will appear next to your display name.
If you’re bored with your Twitter handle or it no longer represents you, for whatever reason, here’s how to change it.
- Enter the Settings and Privacy menu under the More section of the navigation bar.
- From there, click on Your Account, and then Account Information.
- You will be prompted to type in your Twitter account password to confirm it’s you.
- Under Username, you will see your current username and a space to type your new username. If the username you choose is already taken, Twitter will prompt you to choose another one (plus it gives you suggested names that aren’t taken).
- Select your new Twitter handle and click save.
These steps are the same whether you’re using Twitter on your browser or in the Twitter app on your phone.
If you want to change your display name for any other reason, click Profile in the navigation bar, and then the Edit Profile button, below your profile’s header image. From there, you can edit your display name, information such as your bio and location, and your header and profile images.