Almost every person on the internet uses some or the other instant messaging protocol. But since pretty much every email service has its own IM service and everyone uses different ones, it can get difficult to stay in touch with everyone. Installing different clients for Google Talk, Windows Live, Yahoo! and so many more can get really annoying. Nobody wants their PC cluttered up with a hundred different IM clients but still wants to stay in touch with all their contacts. The best way to do this is get a universal IM client. These nifty little programs connect to all communication protocols at once and let you simultaneously talk with anyone over any network. So check out the 3 best universal IM clients, there’s mobiles versions as well and they’re free!
The 3 best universal IM clients:
Pidgin is the oldest and most customizable amongst the best universal IM clients listed here. Although it doesn’t support all social networks like the other two listed here, purely as an IM client, Pidgin is fantastic. It’s light, open source and has a simple interface. Pidgin’s strength lies in its ability to be customized. The many plugins available can boost the already formidable list of supported messaging protocols and there’s language packs for a ton of local languages. Also, there’s no need to make a separate account. The downsides, however are that it lacks video conferencing for Windows and is not available for mobiles. Supported protocols are Google Talk, AIM, IRC, Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MXit, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr.
The interestingly named Digsby is cements its place as one of the best universal IM clients with a host of features sure to please most. Multi-protocol messaging aside, it also supports social network updates from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn in real-time and email syncing from Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, GMail and other IMAP/POP based accounts. You can also rename aliases so you don’t have to wonder who that cryptically named friend is, and all communications from a single person can be grouped together to avoid confusion and duplicate contacts. Furthermore, there’s SMS and video conferencing support included! Everything’s not great though, Digsby comes bundled with a lot of unnecessary software, so make sure to uncheck those options while installing. There’s also no mobile version and you have to create a separate Digsby account. Also, you will notice that there’s ads in messaging windows.
Trillian is the most full featured client and is our pick for the top spot in the best universal IM clients. Combining a simple, easy to use interface with a myriad of options, Trillian is your one stop shop for communications. Named after a character in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Trillian features multi-protocol messaging, email syncing and social networking in one handy client. You can setup your account to update all social networks at the same time, group multiple protocol using contacts into a single contact, video conference, share files and much more! A separate Trillian account is necessary, but it will be used to sign into all versions, which include Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Linux and there’s also a web based version. Some premium features are available on a trial basis and there’s a few issues with email syncing, but otherwise Trillian is the client of choice for us.
Drop us a comment and let us know what you thought of our list of the best universal IM clients! Is there any other client you think deserves a mention?