Quick look at All-in-one IMs


There are so many Instant Messaging services to choose from. It seems like all your contacts are always split between at least four of them – AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and lately Google. Add Skype and Gizmo, and ICQ, well, it is going to be one big mess.

So the next best option is to use an aggregator like Trillian or Adium ? Not only will it save time, but it will also free up some valuable desktop space and might even make your day slightly more productive.

Trillian is a universal instant messenger for PC’s that brings all of your account contacts together in one simple, powerful application. The current build of Trillian supports the aggregation of AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, and IRC IM applications. (Google Talk will work with the pro version, but only after you have done some fiddling around and install a Jabber plug)

Trillian supports the standard features offered in these applications like audio chat, file transfers, group chats, and icons, but adds in message history and tabbed messaging. Word is that this new build of the popular Trillian called Astra will include faster chatting capabilities, more efficient network connections, and decreased memory usage. This is going to be a great new build, so stay tuned for the release of this strong new version that is currently in Alpha phase.

A hot aggregation client for Mac users is Adium. Adium supports the aggregation of AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, ICQ, iChat, and Google Talk services. Like all Mac applications, the interface is pretty. So needless to say, Adium has a lot of beautiful extras that are available, including emoticons, dock icons, contact list styles, sound sets, and message styles. There are a lot of drag and dropfunctionality, as well as tabbed messaging features.

What about online? Sometimes its easier if you work on multiple computers or locations to use an instant messaging application that can be accessed from within browsers. There are a few web based aggregators out there like Meebo and eBuddy that you might want to check out. They both have packed in the ability to tie in to the most popular IM accounts like AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, and MSN. eBuddy has its drawbacks as it doesn’t have Jabber support, so no Google Talk. Then there are the annoying ads. But hey, got to pay the bills somehow. Personally, I enjoy using Meebo because of the clean easy to use interface, and the fact that it ties into my main modes of IM communications.

However, nothing beats the standalone application as far as features. Standalone IM applications are the most feature packed powerful solutions out there. Obviously, since they were built with those intentions in mind. They do have their drawbacks, and can be beat out by both web based and aggregation IM tools. What it all comes down to are your preferences and requirements.

If you’re not up for Trillian, Adium, Meebo, or eBuddy there are a few more out there that you might want to check out to find the one that best suits your needs. However, with all the online, offline, and aggregating Instant Messaging applications out there, its sometimes hard to keep track of the ones that can be utilized over the web, and on mobile devices. Here is a little list to help you keep the facts straight, and decide which ones to use:

Standalone Applications:

  • Google Talk
  • Yahoo Instant Messenger
  • AIM
  • ICQ
  • MSN Live Messenger
  • iChat
  • Skype
  • Jabber
  • Wablet

Web based:

  • Google Talk
  • Meebo
  • Meebo Me
  • eBuddy


  • Yahoo Instant Messenger
  • Google Talk
  • AIM


  • Trillian
  • Adium
  • Miranda
  • Proteus
  • Gaim

If anyone knows of any mobile instant messaging aggregators out there, drop a comment with your thoughts on it!


Ross Hill

Adium is an awesome backend, but you need the Renkoo Naked message windows and the Proteus soundset to make it kickass :)


I’ve been using Gtalk for quite sometime now and I’m very much contented. It doesn’t have a sleek interface but it primarily suites most of my needs. But Adium looks nice too, I’ll be trying it out next time around. I remember I was about to use MeeboMe on my site, until I found it a little too fancy.

Chris Coyier

I’m been using Adium for about three weeks now and I’m really loving it. It’s really everything instant messaging software should be. Super easy to use, feature rich, awesome customizable interface. I was starting to despise iChat so I’m glad I found it.

As a web worker, you should really be as easy to communicate with as possible, so with a program like Adium, you can have screen names on all of the popular IM services without having to run a bunch of different software… sweet.


I use GAIM in preference to Trillian. GAIM seems to work a little faster than Trillian. GAIM is also usable if you’re using a non-Windows computer (I use it with my Linux desktops, for example) and it works with Google Talk. They are generally a little faster to update whenever one of the services decides to block unofficial clients.

Another good all-around client (for Linux desktops) is Kopete. Kopete seems to work around the occasional blockages even faster than GAIM does.

PSI is a good Jabber client, as is Spark. We use Jabber internally, so a Jabber client really matters.


My IM wish is for an aggregator that supports video chat. I use Trillian at work, and find it just fine for all my non-google chat needs, but at home, where I have a webcam and want to be able to videochat with distant relatives who want to see the baby once in a while, I have to run skype, messenger, etc. etc. in order to connect with everyone.


Gaim supports Jabber/Google Talk protocols, without spending $25 on a “Pro” version of Trillian. Trillian (Basic or Pro) does have the better interface compared to GAIM, IMHO. Our library just started an IM reference service using Trillian to monitor the Big 4 services.

marcel weiß

If you want to get some work done instead having to tweak your im-client regularly I suggest to not use miranda. miranda is powerful but with it’s need of douzens of plugins it can become pretty timeconsuming to keep it working.

gaim on pc is fine.


Wengo is also a good opensource initiative, it’s an all in one application aggregating IM (Yahoo!/MSN/AIM/ICQ/Jabber) as well as VoIP (SIP) ; audio interoperability with MSN is under way and integration of Skype is planned early january. Windows release is now stable, Mac & Linux need some more work.

Sal Cangeloso

I would highly recommend GAIM to anyone that seems AIM as a necessary evil and wants security, the ability to customize, and lots of features. Others, like Trillian are not bad, but GAIM has the best mix of form and function, IMO.

I also use MiniAIM sometimes, but this is too stripped down for day-to-day use.


dude you forgot about SNIMMER – this is the one that actually works in a browser and lets people on AIM talk to people on MSN or whatever else with only one single account…if it works, it will put the others in the ground…

Evan Wired

Don’t forget Fire for the Mac: http://fire.sourceforge.net/

* AIM®
* ICQ®
* irc
* Jabber® (including Google® Talk and Apple® iChat Server)
* MSN®
* Yahoo! Messenger®
* Apple Bonjour® (aka Rendezvous)

Chris Williams

I’ve been using Miranda for a while now. It’s phenomenal. I could write an entire article on using it for IM alone. I even enable its IRC service for group chats with web developers (I’m a copywriter).

Great blog! Keep up the excellent work.


i’ve been using trillian for years, but am now at a day job (yikes!) that won’t let me install it. so i not-so-covertly use meebo.com. color me impressed. it’s had a few minor bugs, but for the most part it works well and easily.


Psi is also a good alternative. Maybe not as complete in terms of features as Trillian. Highly customizable though…


It took me a while to get used to Trillian but once you are used to it, it’s a lot easier than jumping from window to window. eBuddy’s good when you’re not at home but need access to a messenger.

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