Adium

AdiumIt’s fair to say that I generally review software that I actively use and Adium is no exception. So you can predict this review will recommend the use of Adium like most of my others. But this review site is more about showing you why something is worth using rather than just simply saying it is so, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at Adium.

Adium is Instant Messaging software. It connects to the various IM platforms such as MSN/Live Messenger, AIM, Jabber, Yahoo, Facebook (that’s pretty cool), Twitter and a plethora of others, all at once, all within one application. So if you have multiple IM accounts (or even just one, for example at MSN/Live – but you also have a Facebook account) you no longer need separate windows open for each account you want to be logged in to. That can save you some serious amounts of screen real estate, and multiple bouncing dock icons when people want your attention.

It’s easy to setup, just enter the usernames and passwords of the various IM systems you use under the Preferences screen. I don’t recommend setting up Adium for use with Twitter – it’s Twitter support is nasty and I’d recommend using Twitter 2 for Mac by a long way. In a way I’m surprised they chose to opt for Twitter support at all, it’s not really an IM platform after all.

overview-150x150The various screens within Adium are nicely laid out (have a look at the screenshot to the left) and simple to use. You can choose between having all your conversations grouped in one window with tabs at the bottom to switch between them or each having individual windows. Adium supports emoticons, and even has a number of different emoticon collections you can switch between.

The interface itself is skinnable and comes with a number of pre-installed skins. I’m not sure if others are downloadable, I’ve not tried. An example is to the right.

Most IM systems support the concept of a current mood or ‘status’ and Adium will let you set your current status (often known as Availability) to a number of pre-set statuses such as Available, Away, Do Not Disturb or any custom status you choose. Setting the status once updates it across all IM systems you’re logged into if such IM system supports the status. I don’t believe the FaceBook status gets updated with this (which is probably just as well!). Adium also allows you to set your status based on the current music you’re listening to in iTunes which can be pretty cool – so long as you’re not listening to something you don’t want other people to know about!

overviewpaperAdium also supports file transfer across a number of platforms, AIM and MSN seem to be the best supported. Indeed I’ve received files across MSN in the past and so I know it works quite reliably. MSN transfers do all go via the MSN servers though, so sometimes they’re not as quick as they might be. I believe the latest version has made some changes to this, but I’m not entirely sure what those changes are – feel free to let me know in the comments below.

All in all, Adium is one of the best IM clients available (and beats most Windows clients in my opinion). If you use any of the IM systems Adium supports I’d highly recommend it. It’d be nice if it supported webcams for those IM systems that do, and perhaps voice conferencing would be a good feature too – such things are supported by official clients but are quite difficult for open source projects to integrate.

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