Combine All Your IM Accounts In One Application With Pidgin [Windows & Linux]

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pidgin instant messengerPidgin 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 chat contacts across every network will be combined into a single buddy list, and all your conversations can be combined into a single tabbed chat window – or multiple windows, if you prefer.

Web-based chat solutions like imo.im are all the rage these days, but Pidgin integrates with your system better. Pidgin can run in your system tray without requiring a browser tab left open, flash when you receive a new message, and be quickly accessed from the taskbar.

Accounts

Pidgin supports a wide range of protocols. You’ll find the classic instant-messaging networks like MSN (Windows Live Messenger), AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo, and ICQ in addition to newer networks like Facebook and Google Talk. You’ll also find support for any XMPP server (Facebook and Google Talk are actually just XMPP, too), IRC (although Pidgin doesn’t make the best IRC client, as it lacks various features), and a number of smaller networks.

You can add as many as you want – and tweak their settings – from the Accounts window.

pidgin instant messenger

Buddy List

Pidgin shows all your contacts in a single buddy list window. You can drag and drop contacts into groups, irrespective of their networks. Pidgin even includes support for contact-grouping – if you have a single person with multiple different IM handles, each perhaps on a different network, you can drag and drop each screen name into a single, grouped contact to organize your buddy list.

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You can also assign aliases to your buddies – for example, you could alias Amazing_Blogger_2012 to “Jon” and see the name Jon everywhere in Pidgin’s interface.

pidgin chat

You can quickly change your status from the drop-down box at the bottom of the window. Pidgin also includes support for creating and saving custom statuses that can be different on each account.

For example, during work hours you could be available on your work IM account and have an away message on your home account. You can easily select custom statuses from the dropdown box.

pidgin chat

Chatting

With Pidgin’s simple conversation window interface, you can have a lot of conversations in a single small window with tabs. You can move the tabs to any other location in the window, disable the tabs entirely and use a separate window for each conversation, or drag and drop tabs to create several windows. There isn’t a lot of clutter that gets in the way of your conversations, but Pidgin has a few simple menus for formatting your messages and inserting links and images.

Many other options, including viewing chat logs and sending files, are available in the menus at the top of the window. You can also drag and drop a file onto the conversation window to initiate a file transfer.

pidgin chat

Options

Pidgin’s preferences window gives you a good amount of control over the way Pidgin works – everything from where new conversations are created and when sounds play to Pidgin’s network settings and chat log format — Pidgin can automatically log conversations and includes a built-in log viewer.

pidgin im

Plug-Ins

Pidgin also supports plug-ins and includes a good amount of them. Plug-ins can do some interesting things – for example, the Psychic Mode plug-in notices when people are typing messages to you, even if they haven’t messaged you yet, and pops up a notification. You can say hi before they even send you their first message – I’ve done this before, and it is as amusing as it sounds.

Another cool plug-in is the Autoaccept plug-in, which can automatically accept file transfers from buddies you specify.

pidgin im

Pounces

“Buddy pounces,” another included feature, are very flexible. At its simplest, you can use a buddy pounce to pop up a notification message – or automatically send a message – when a contact comes online or returns from being away. You can do a lot more with buddy pounces, too – for example, you can automatically run a program when a specific buddy messages you.

pidgin instant messenger

If there’s one problem with Pidgin, it’s that development has slowed in recent years. Important features like voice and video chatting have failed to materialize – Pidgin only supports Google Talk voice and video on Linux. Still, the reason development has slowed is that Pidgin does what it needs to do very well – you don’t get all the latest protocol features, but you don’t necessarily need them. If you just want to chat and send files, Pidgin does it well, without a lot of clutter and fuss.

We’ve covered a lot of Pidgin tips and tricks here in the past, including installing Pidgin themes, stopping IM spam with the Bot Sentry plug-in, encrypting your instant messages, and using Pidgin to tweet on Linux.

For more great software, check out our list of the best Windows software and best Linux software.

What do you think of Pidgin – is it your preferred IM client, or you do use another IM client?

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Comments (33)
  • Devesh Agarwal

    Hi, I have been using Empathy in ubuntu but its having some problems and not showing buddy list. So changed to Pidgin and now I am a happy user.
    Thanks Khris and makeuseof

    • Chris Hoffman

      Yup, I use Pidgin on Ubuntu too! Empathy was a bit half-baked when they replaced Pidgin with it.

  • Ales Mole

    I love pidgin because of its minimalistic design.

    • Chris Hoffman

      Me too! Hard to use something like Trillian after using Pidgin — such a gaudy, skinned interface.

  • Yogesh Verma

    pidgin is good
    but empathy is better try that

    • Ravi Meena

      I Used empathy once and it was the best thing i ever used, but sadly there is no windows version, or is their any?

    • yogesh verma

      not till now

    • Chris Hoffman

      Is it actually better than Pidgin now? What makes Empathy better? I remember when Ubuntu switched the default from Pidgin to Empathy, I just reinstalled Pidgin — Empathy seemed more incomplete.

      I’m genuinely curious because I haven’t tried Empathy in years — why’s it your favorite?

  • Reý Aetar

    i use nimbuzz ..though it doesnt support so many services but it has all that i need

    • Chris Hoffman

      Too bad Nimbuzz ditched AIM support. That’s a big deal for lots of people.

  • uriel_blanchard

    Nice one. Will try it :)

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.