50 Mac Essentials #5: Adium



Adium is an all-purpose instant messenger application for OS X, and a very useful app to have around.

Consider: it lets you connect to almost any instant messaging network you can think of, and a handful more you might never have encountered before. It is stable and reliable. It is free to use, and open source, which means it’s free to tinker with if you’re so inclined.

More: it has a smart, flexible look that can be minutely adjusted to suit your personal tastes. If you want bright colours, emoticons bouncing around like lunatics, and strange pingy noises every time anyone anywhere says anything – well, you can get that. And if, by contrast, you want something cool and quiet and unobtrusive that gets out of the way and lets you communicate when you need to – well, you can get that too. From the same app.

It handles multiple chats in tabbed windows, it talks nicely to your OS X Address Book, and handles file transfers in a sensible and helpful way.

Adium handles your AIM contacts and your Mobile Me contacts, so you can use it to chat with people you’re already connected to with iChat. But beyond that, it handles Windows Live Messenger contacts too, so you can chat with friends who use Windows computers. It even connects to chat services from Yahoo!, Google and Facebook. You name it, Adium can cope with it.

If customizing is your thing, Adium offers a vast range of options for changing almost every aspect of how the app behaves and what it looks like.

In short, if you want to chat with friends over the internet, and you have more than one friend on more than one network, Adium is an essential choice.

(You’re reading the 5th post in our series, 50 Essential Mac Applications: a list of the great Mac apps we at the Cult value most. Read more.)