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If you are a user of Mac OS X you’ll probably know that the MSN application that Microsoft has developed for OS X isn’t really that amazing. For starters you can’t have a video chat with a friend or talk via a microphone using MSN on OS X. Also the interface for the application doesn’t look all that amazing.
So I have decided to make a list of five alternative chat MSN applications out there for Mac OS X that have better functionality and allow you to customize the look and feel of the application.
Many Mac users will most likely have heard of Adium. Adium is probably the biggest multi-protocol instant messaging application that there is for Mac. It can connect to AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo and several others. Adium uses the libpurple library for most of its functionality so it is very stable. Adium allows users to customize almost anything within the application such as the buddylist window, chat window, sound sets, dock icon, status icons, plugins, apple scripts and so on.
The only downside to Adium is that, like MSN Messenger OS X, it doesn’t support video chats or chatting with a microphone. Overall however Adium is probably the most stable and most customizable messaging application there is out there for MSN on Mac OS X.
Proteus is a Cocoa application so it runs at native speeds on OS X. Proteus doesn’t just support MSN – it also supports AIM, ICQ, Yahoo and Jabber. Just like every other MSN client in this application so far, Proteus also allows customization of the contacts list, messaging window, sound set and status icons.
Proteus also allows for SMS forwarding in case you’re away from your computer and waiting for an important message from someone. I really like Proteus and think that it has some nice effects that finish the application off nicely and make it a nice application to have open. A downside to Proteus though is, just like Adium, it doesn’t support video chat.
Fire is identical to Proteus as it is also a Cocoa application. So it also runs at native speeds on OS X and supports many IM clients (7 in total), not just MSN.
Fire is quite a nice application and lets you customize the sound sets, add feature plugins and choose between visual themes. It’s also open source so if there’s a feature which you would like to add to it and you know your way around XCode then you can.
Mercury Messenger is a Java based MSN application and because it’s Java, it also works with Windows and Linux.
A great feature about Mercury Messenger is that it supports video chat. Just this feature alone makes Mercury Messenger an essential application that you need on your Mac if you want to video chat to your friends and clients on MSN. You can also stream video files over your webcam stream which is a really cool feature. Mercury Messenger is customizable but not to the extent that you can customize Adium. With Mercury Messenger you can add plugins, change the skin and add custom emoticons to friends but that’s as far as customization with Mercury Messenger goes.
A nice thing about Mercury Messenger is that it is portable and can run from a USB memory stick. So you can load up Mercury Messenger and use it from any computer with the internet access.
aMSN is much like Mercury Messenger because it’s Java based and it runs on Windows and Linux as well as OS X. aMSN also supports video chat just like Mercury Messenger. Additionally is also supports video conferencing (unlike Mercury Messenger).
aMSN comes in about 40 languages worldwide so if you don’t speak very good English then download the version of aMSN in your own language. A nice feature about aMSN is that it allows you to send and receive voice clips just like Windows Live Messenger for Windows. With aMSN you can also sign into more than one MSN account at once without having to open up other MSN clients.
Just like Adium and Mercury Messenger, aMSN also has tabbed windows to keep all your current messaging windows together and organized. Plugins and skins are also supported with aMSN so you can customize the application up a bit.
6. Honorable Mention (Pidgin)
Pidgin was originally compiled for Windows and Linux but if you do a little bit of searching around Google you can find ways how to port Pidgin over to OS X in just a few minutes. Pidgin is a very nice application and definitely worth checking out. If you’re interested check our post on Pidgin Tips here.