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Among the fastest growing social networks today Here Are the Fastest Growing Social Networks You Need to Join Here Are the Fastest Growing Social Networks You Need to Join While Facebook holds the lion's share of the social market, new services like Kik, Snapchat and WhatsApp threaten to break Facebook's stranglehold on the social Internet. Read More , you’ll find more than one chat app. In fact, it could be argued that instant messaging (IM) is the way forward for social networks, which is why you have Facebook buying WhatsApp for $19 billion and Twitter opening up its Direct Messages.

One trend that seems to be dominating these chat apps is the death of the desktop client Why You Don't Need Desktop Chat Clients Anymore Why You Don't Need Desktop Chat Clients Anymore Remember the days of MSN Messenger and AIM? Those two were the first chat clients I ever used. Once I started using them more and more, it became cumbersome to switch between clients and contact... Read More . The best you’ll get is a web-based version of the app, like Facebook’s Messenger or WhatsApp Web.

But third-party developers aren’t giving up yet. From all-in-one messaging apps to dedicated chat clients that do a better job than the official web versions, here are some amazing chat apps you should be using on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computers.

Franz (Windows, Mac, Linux | Free)

All-In-One Messaging App for WhatsApp, Slack, Skype, and Many More

If I could pick only one chat app to install on my computer, it would be Franz. It’s pretty new, but it’s an absolute must-have if you connect with friends via IM. Franz is an all-in-one or universal messaging app, which supports a wide number of services: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram, WeChat, Skype, HipChat, Google Hangouts, ChatWork, GroupMe, Grape, Gitter, Discord, and Steam Chat. The developers say they are busy adding more services!

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In essence, Franz is a Chromium-based desktop wrapper for the web versions of all these apps, but it also offers a few additional benefits. For starters, you can sign into multiple accounts of Facebook Messenger without having to constantly log in and out.

You also get native notification support compliant with your operating system. There’s a helpful badge on the icon announcing the number of unread messages. And a quick check shows that Franz takes up less battery and CPU usage than running the same tabs in the Google Chrome browser—not surprising, given Chrome’s troubles with battery and power 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Chrome's CPU Usage & Battery Drain 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Chrome's CPU Usage & Battery Drain Is Chrome using too much CPU and draining your battery? There may be a way for you to reduce its impact. Read More .

More than anything, Franz is simply convenient. With all your chat powered by one app, you can safely close it when you want some distraction-free work time, knowing you won’t be disturbed.

Download: Franz for 32-bit Windows, for 64-bit Windows, for Mac OS X, for 32-bit Linux, and for 64-bit Linux (Free)

Whatsie (Windows, Mac, Linux | Free)

A Fantastic Free WhatsApp Client for Desktops

Last year, WhatsApp finally launched WhatsApp Web to chat on your computer WhatsApp Web: Everything You Need To Know WhatsApp Web: Everything You Need To Know Along with supporting all mobile platforms, WhatsApp has now launched a web-based client, so you can finally use WhatsApp on your PC and sync with your phone. Read More . But again, this is a browser-only solution. Thankfully, developer Aluxian created his own version of a desktop app that works on all three operating systems and brings more features than the Web version.

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Whatsie is completely free and easy to set up. In fact, it’s just like setting up WhatsApp Web, where you scan the QR code to link your phone and your computer. Once you’re synced up, it’s time to start typing as usual.

Whatsie uses your operating system’s default notifications system, so it looks more complementary than the web app. It also offers several different themes to skin your WhatsApp—I especially liked the Dark mode. And in what is sure to be a hit feature, Whatsie has a built-in spellcheck which will throw that familiar squiggly red underline for misspelt words.

We’ve already seen some cool WhatsApp clients for Mac OS X How to Install Whatsapp for Mac OS X: What You Need to Know How to Install Whatsapp for Mac OS X: What You Need to Know If you haven't got WhatsApp because you're a Mac user and think it doesn't work with Macs or iPhones, you're mistaken. Let's get WhatsApp working on OS X, shall we? Read More and Franz supports it too, but if WhatsApp is all you use for chatting, then Whatsie is your new best friend.

Download: Whatsie for Windows, for Mac, for Linux DEB, and for Linux RPM (Visit the Whatsie download page for 64-bit and portable versions.)

Common Hangouts (Google Chrome | Free)

The Absolute Best Way to Use Google’s Hangouts

A lot of us who grew up on Google Talk are amazed at how Google dropped the ball and made the monstrosity that is Hangouts today. It redeemed itself a bit with the all new Hangouts web app Google Finally Made a Hangouts Web App & It's Worth It Google Finally Made a Hangouts Web App & It's Worth It For the longest time, Hangouts on desktop was a nightmare. Now, it has got a major update on the web in the form of an all new dedicated web app. Read More , but it’s still not perfect. Leave it to a third party developer to figure that out.

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Common Hangouts is what Google Hangouts always should have been. Use it for a few minutes and it’s obvious that this is the absolute best version of the chat app. It’s clean, it’s beautifully designed, and it uses space wisely to put the focus on your chats. The left sidebar has all your contacts, and in a series of full-length panels on the right, you’ll see your latest IMs.

Plus, Common Hangouts does all this without making you miss any feature. Video calls work just fine, you can take conversations off the record, you can add a contact—everything just works, as Justin says in his detailed review of Common Hangouts Someone Finally Made Google Hangouts Better On Desktop Someone Finally Made Google Hangouts Better On Desktop It took someone outside Google hacking away at CSS to finally offer a decent Hangouts experience on desktops and laptops – and you can give it a shot right now if you're a Chrome user. Read More . Yeah, it isn’t a standalone app, but hey, with Chrome, you can make any site in an app Use Chrome to Create a Windows 10 App from Any Website Use Chrome to Create a Windows 10 App from Any Website This simple Chrome trick will help you appreciate Windows tiles. It also works on Windows 8. You can turn any website into an app that launches in its own window. Perfect for small screens! Read More .

Download: Common Hangouts for Google Chrome (Free)

Pidgin / Adium

For Everything Else, There’s Pidgin

Not every must-have software has to be newly made. Pidgin has been around for years, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome today. While Franz concentrates on the new wave of chat apps, Pidgin handles almost every other IM service Combine All Your IM Accounts In One Application With Pidgin [Windows & Linux] Combine All Your IM Accounts In One Application With Pidgin [Windows & Linux] Pidgin is a free instant-messaging client that combines all your IM accounts in one simple application. Instead of running several different IM clients that display ads and eat up memory, just use Pidgin. All your... Read More you can think of.

Best-Unofficial-third-party-desktop-clients-Pidgin

Given its many years and open-source nature, Pidgin supports a wide variety of chat networks, along with third-party plugins to enable many more. For example, there isn’t an official WhatsApp plugin, but you can get WhatsApp on Pidgin with third-party plugins. Here’s a brief list of what Pidgin supports:

  • AIM
  • Bonjour
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • Google Talk
  • Groupwise
  • ICQ
  • IRC
  • MSN
  • MXit
  • MySpaceIM
  • SILC
  • SIMPLE
  • Sametime
  • XMPP
  • Yahoo!
  • Zephyr

Pidgin is especially great at handling old-Web IMs like IRC or ICQ, and anything which uses the XMPP protocol. Pidgin officially has apps for Windows and Linux, but Mac users can get a Pidgin port called Adium and use it the same way.

Download: Pidgin for Windows and for Linux (Free)

Download: Adium for Mac (Free)

Web vs. Desktop

So readers, are you with Aaron when he says desktop chat clients are no longer needed, or do you still feel that a good desktop IM app can make a big difference in your productivity? I love the convenience of having all my chats in one window. But I do see why people might be using their web browser for all their chat needs. Which side are you on in the web vs. desktop battle?

  1. Shadow IT Ninja
    November 16, 2016 at 3:38 am

    You are forgetting what is probably the most important reason to use a desktop chat client which is security. Anything running in your web browser can spy on other things you do in the browser. By using a separate chat client, you have more separation between your different activities.

  2. Aria Red
    October 5, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Believe me, you wouldn't want a web chat client when you have 100++ tabs open like me. A desktop app would make everything a lot easier.

  3. Hiki
    August 24, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Web apps? Why bother??? I'll never understand the point of them other than for the sake of 'not installing' things on a computer. Sure they're good on things like Chrome Books, but a desktop/laptop is a full blown powerful machine. Why not make use of it? People don't go out and spend thousands of dollars on laptops and desktops just to open up a web browser....

    I want DESKTOP APPS, and GOOD ONES. I want something that does what its supposed to do, and do it well. Desktop apps allow you to do so much with them if you know what to look for. You can edit files and change how things look as well as tweak their behavior. Web apps? They are locked in. You can't do anything about them cause its all on their server stuff...

    Screw having Web Apps that can't do anything useful... I don't want to have to open the web browser and navigate to a page every freaking time i wanna chat with someone or do something in general... I want to just turn on the computer, have my programs load up, and be on my way. I want to be able to use MY computer how I want to.

  4. J Bouvrie
    June 23, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Exactly! And I can't for the life of me find a decent chat/messenger app that's up to speed with today's day and age.

    I want rich texts, inline file sending&handling (movie/audio clips would be 'playable' straight from the chat and not require a file transfer dialog to be sent over), grep-/searchable chat history, availability on desktops and preferably mobile devices too. Ironically, this all seems to point in the direction of web apps, though that experience falls short on desktops.

  5. TG2
    June 14, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Battle? - Desktop
    Why? - Resources.

    Trillian and Pigdin eat less than 100 ~ 200 Meg, Franz fails because its a glorified chrome app, chrome already eats 1gig of ram when I'm working with 3 browsers open (IE, FF, Chrome) and multiple tabs in each.

    The hell that is hangouts. Ok, if you want to hangout at a bar, with loud obnoxious crap going on, sure.. have a hangout ... want to archive? oh, can't because it will close you out of the hangout and you'll need to get invited again (what f**ktard thought that up) ... in business when you need chat groups hangouts fails.

    unreal that no one has found a way to crack the google facade and get us clean coded apps.

    Web app? Ok, so which web browser do you want to tie the f**ktarded webapp to? OH, one works only with Chrome, one works in Firefox with some chrome based plugin, and again, what happens when you're trying to keep your stuff separated, so a crash in one doesn't kill the other, or just the fact that the web-apps themselves don't know how to "stand alone" from their main instance.

    Web apps are crap when you're working on a destkop computer.

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