Managing multiple chat clients separately is a nightmare. Colleagues and some key clients use a variety of tools, including AIM, Yahoo!, MSN and Google Talk. While I do have accounts on all of these, handling multiple chats and logs, for me, is a snap.
The tool I use is called Pidgin, a universal chat client that currently supports 17 different chat networks. In its simplest form, sans plugins, Pidgin does exactly what I need:
- Displays all “buddies” in one list, which I can categorize.
- Allows me to block people across multiple channels
- Logs every chat, and includes a search tool for locating past comments
- Has the ability to spell check
- Includes chat room support
- Supports secure messaging
- Tabbed window chats with visual alerts
Pidgin also has other features, which weren’t deal-breakers for me. They include emoticon support, sounds, font control, file transfers and third-party plugins.
Pidgin is free and open source, and the developers do a great job keeping it up to date. The client runs primarily on Windows, but there are methods you can use for running it on Mac OSX, though even Pidgin recommends Mac users install Adium.