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Instant messaging has been very popular for quite some time now. Although services like Twitter have somewhat tarnished the appeal of IM, chatting with your friends on Google Talk or Yahoo Messenger is not going away any time soon.

Here are some of the top tips and tricks that you can use to get more out of Instant messaging.

Set up an Answering Machine

Need an answering machine for your IM network to automatically respond to messages when you are offline? Well you can hack out a bot and have it running, monitoring the incoming messages and replying appropriately or you can simply sign into your account and set response messages.

[NO LONGER WORKS] allows you to do just that. You are not even required to register. Log in with the IM credentials of the account you want set up answering for, set the status that will be shown to the users and then type the autoresponse text that will be sent back to the users in case someone happens to ping you while you are offline.

Use a multiprotocol client

These days everything needs to be talking to everything else. You have plants tweeting you when they need to be watered, you can update Twitter using an number of ways, then why not have a single client for all your IM needs?


You shouldn’t be running Yahoo Messenger and GTalk separately and then switching between windows when all kinds of notifications are flashing on your screen. Try something like pidgin. It might lack the occasional feature or two (like voice calls) but it more than makes up for it Pidgin - Tips and Tricks Pidgin - Tips and Tricks Read More with tabbed interfaces, a rich set of plugins, customizations, availability for Windows, Linux and Mac and of course the price -> “free”.

Ditch desktop clients altogether

Using a netbook? Or don’t have permissions to install your favorite IM clients? Look towards the web and you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of choices to help you get that joke across to your buddies even if that nasty admin has all sorts of ‘permission thingys’ going on!

Check out Meebo, ebuddy or Each has its pros and cons and David recently did an amazing article 5 Online Instant Messaging Services to Chat with Friends 5 Online Instant Messaging Services to Chat with Friends Read More on just that.

Encrypt your chat

There are good people like you (yes, I really meant YOU) and then there are bad people. Bad people like to spy on other people, perhaps steal some personal information that can then be used for all kinds of weird stuff.

While the occasional Hi there! types of conversations are fine, there are times when you want to protect your chat and history from prying eyes. Why not encrypt and secure your chat? You can encrypt your chat using both web based clients and desktop clients How To Secure & Encrypt Your Instant Messaging Chats How To Secure & Encrypt Your Instant Messaging Chats Read More .

As for encrypting the chat log, you just need to find the location of log files and encrypt them on your computer using something like Truecrypt or just move it to a private directory if you are using ubuntu with ecryptfs.

Recover forgotten passwords

It often happens that you remember a password if you keep entering it often. If you instead set your client to auto-login and remember the password, chances are soon you will forget the password. If that has happened to you, you can recover such remembered passwords that appear as asterisk on the screen. Check out messenpass and other softwares that help you do so How To View Passwords Hidden Behind Asterisk Characters How To View Passwords Hidden Behind Asterisk Characters Read More .

Create IM hyperlinks

IM hyperlinks allow people to quickly send you a message when they click on the link. All you have to do is format the “href” attribute of the <a> tag according to the IM network you want to add the link for. Check out this article How To Create Instant Messaging Hyperlinks How To Create Instant Messaging Hyperlinks Read More for details.

Read RSS feeds

Try out ZapTXT (ZapTXT on MakeUseOf Get RSS feed updates in your IM program with ZapTXT Get RSS feed updates in your IM program with ZapTXT Read More ) and IMfeeds (IMfeeds on MakeUseOf IM Feeds - A Tool for the RSS Power User IM Feeds - A Tool for the RSS Power User Read More ) which allow you to get RSS updates within your chat client.

Use imified

Yeah, we bloggers have the habit of saving the best for last. Imified is without a doubt going to be the best buddy in your buddy list! Imified allows you to access web services, manage to do lists, ping domains and much more all from within your IM client. Mark did a great article Turn Your IM Program Into A Productivity Tool Using Imified Turn Your IM Program Into A Productivity Tool Using Imified Read More on this fabulous tool.

Do you know of anything else you can do with instant messaging?  If you have any good ideas, let us know in the comments.

  1. Jason
    February 15, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Is there an IM client that support Microsoft's LCS?

  2. @cwylie0
    February 15, 2009 at 10:39 am

    My vote is for Digsby, but as per Ben's msg, I may check out miranda.

  3. -=Ben=-
    February 15, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Use Miranda IM. It is 10x better than digsby or pidgin:

  4. Ian Hendry
    February 15, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Suprised not to see Trillian mentioned here. It is a single client for many IM services (ICQ, AIM, MSN, Y!M) but also allows you to be signed on to several account on the same service at the same time -- great if you have a few MSN idenrities (one for work, one for personal etc.). I have been using it for 8 years or more and where it lacks VOIP calls and the like you'll find yourself still using it as other solutions come and go.

    The new vesion (in beta) also support Twitter.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

  5. Josh Fialkoff
    February 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I'd love to see a breakdown on IM clients for the iPhone. I'm experimenting with various apps and I'd like to see what you recommend.

  6. David
    February 14, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Hi. Is there also a service which stayed online e.g. for night, collecting all messages?

    • Varun Kashyap
      February 14, 2009 at 10:50 pm allows you to do that David

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