There is no dearth of choices when it comes to instant messaging tools. Most of my friends prefer Facebook to connect while my business associates use Gtalk. On the other hand my father and some of my kin prefer good old MSN over the rest.
Indeed I want to connect with everyone but installing different clients like Chit Chat, Gtalk and Windows Live messenger is not a great idea because I intend to avoid clutter on my system at all costs. What I was looking for was a single application that was able to handle all the IM services under the same roof and that was when I discovered Pidgin.
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Pidgin is an open-source messaging application that lets you access multiple IM networks from a single window. Pidgin lets you connect to AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Gtalk, Facebook and many other chat networks, all at once. (you could even tell who blocked you on Gtalk using Pidgin)
You can start by downloading and installing Pidgin for Windows. It is available for Linux too. Once Pidgin is successfully installed and you run it for the first time, you will be asked to add your instant messenger accounts. If you don’t want to configure it right now you can again come back to Pidgin and click on Manage Accounts under the Account menu to do it.
On the manage account window you can add, modify or delete an account from Pidgin. We will start with adding some account by clicking on Add button. On the add account window select your preferred IM client and provide its login credentials and click on add button. You can also provide a local alias and keep a check on your new mails if your IM supports mailing feature.
You can add any number of accounts in Pidgin. You can also add multiple accounts of the same IM service as well. Once you have added your IM accounts on Pidgin you will be able to see all your online friends on the friend list along with their status icon and message. To start chatting just double click on any contact and launch the chatting window.
Pidgin supports tabbed chatting interface and thus whether you are chatting with a friend on Facebook, Yahoo or Gtalk, all your friends will be available on the same window. Using Pidgin you can send smiles, formatted text, files, web links and even send a buzz to your friend if he is not replying.
This is not all, you can enhance Pidgin by adding plugins to it. You can access the plugin list from the Tools menu and check the plugin you want to enable. Currently there are 22 plugins in the list by default, to choose from.
Pidgin is a well-executed concept to easily connect to all our friends across various IM networks. However, it lacks features such as video conferencing and VOIP. I encountered some minor bugs while using it but as it’s updated frequently, no need to worry about them. The bottom line is if you are looking for a feature-rich multi-messenger with simple user interface, Pidgin should be your first choice.