Trillian For Mac – A Real Alternative To Adium?

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trillian macRemember the days before multi-platform instant messengers? In that long-lost time the instant messenger you chose to use said something about you. “Do you have an Instant Messenger?” friends would ask. “Yeah, I use ICQ” I’d reply. Nods or approval or disapproval followed depending on their choice of IM client.

Now, of course, you can easily side-step this problem by using multi-platform IM clients capable of logging into multiple services at once. Adium is widely regarded as the best IM for Mac computers, but it now has competition in the form of Trillian, which has hopped the waters between Windows and OS X.

Platform Support Showdown

trillian mac

If you’re downloading a multi-platform IM client, platform support is obviously important to you. You’re downloading the client so you won’t have to open a lot of different instant messengers at once, after all!

Trillian for Mac supports AIM, Bonjour, FaceBook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MySpaceIM, schuelerVZ, Twitter, VZ, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

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That’s a fairly comprehensive list. It isn’t as comprehensive as Adium, but it’s near-as-make-no-difference. There are also some trade-offs. For example, Adium supports LiveJournal, but Trillian supports Twitter.

There is just one thing missing that I’d really like to see – Skype. I’m not sure why it isn’t included, because Skype is supported in Trillian for Windows. Adium also doesn’t support Skype, however.

User Interface

trillian for mac

If there’s any single element most likely to trip up a Windows developer that makes the leap to a Mac it is the user interface. OS X has very different interface elements that Windows and OS X users expect the programs that they download to integrate into the operating system more smoothly.

Trillian does a pretty good job of making an interface that looks at home on a Mac. There is only one real button on the main IM window, and it is located at the very bottom beside a search bar. Large icons and text indicate contacts, and you can read about a contact’s status by hovering over them with your cursor.

Adium sets the bar high, however, and Trillian doesn’t quite match up to the example it sets. Trillian looks nice, but Adium looks as if it could be a program installed on our Mac from the factory.

Customization

trillian for mac

Adium is well known for its customization features. Although the default settings look brilliant, Adium does not take the typical Mac approach of offering only a handful of carefully selected options. You can change all sort of things including contact icons, the color of interface elements and even the shape of the IM window itself.  A robust community that offers various add-ons and new themes supports these customization features.

trillian mac

Trillian, well – it doesn’t really have any of this. What you see is what you get. Trillian does offer Growl support, just like Adium, but there are no serious customization options for the interface. You can change the font size of contacts and alter the way notifications appear, but that’s about it.

Conclusion

Is Trillian an alternative for Adium? Sure, I suppose it is. It does most of the same things and it is fully functional as an IM client. You’ll have no problem at all using it day-to-day, and chances are good that whatever IM program(s) you use are supported (except Skype, dagnabit).

With that said, I don’t see any reason why someone using Adium would switch to Trillian, and I don’t see any reason why someone needing a general multi-platform IM client should download Trillian instead of Adium. I’m sure that the folks developing Trillian will continue to plug away at their new Mac version and add new features over time, but for now Adium remains the heavyweight champion of the Mac instant messengers.

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Comments (8)
  • CrazyMountain

    Adium 1.4, released on October 30th added Twitter support.
    Skype is only supported through a plug-in.

    Please people, check before bullsaying?

  • Adela

    Small correction: Adium does in fact support twitter & skype.

    • M.S. Smith

      Thanks, I see the Twitter support now. I found Skype support too, but it looks like it’s only through a plug-in – is that right?

    • Adela

      No, I wouldn’t say so. It’s in the main list of possible accounts.

    • CrazyMountain

      Adium 1.4, released on October 30th added Twitter support.
      Skype is only supported through a plug-in.

      Please people, check before bullsaying?

    • M.S. Smith

      I didn’t think it was native (Skype certainly wasn’t showing up in Adium for me) but I’ll have to check out the plugin soon.

  • James Coulee

    I find that Adium has stability problens that Trillian doesn’t have even in its beta form.
    …and I also find that to make Adium look decent, it takes a lot of work, and that’s not the approach I fancy for OS X software: Trillian works good and looks good out of the box, without extra work from the user.

    That’s why I switched, I’m afraid.

  • James Coulee

    I find that Adium has stability problens that Trillian doesn’t have even in its beta form.
    …and I also find that to make Adium look decent, it takes a lot of work, and that’s not the approach I fancy for OS X software: Trillian works good and looks good out of the box, without extra work from the user.

    That’s why I switched, I’m afraid.

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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.