How To Mass Import Your AIM Buddies Into Google Talk

How To Mass Import Your AIM Buddies Into Google Talk

AIM has integrated their instant messaging service with Google Talk, allowing you to talk to your friends on both protocols with only one login. Here’s how to import all your AIM buddies into Google Talk in one fell swoop.

You may have noticed that you can no longer sign into AIM via Google Chat — that’s because Google has integrated AIM directly with Google Talk for single-login goodness. The integration went live last week, but you had to manually add all your AIM buddies to Google Talk if you wanted to contact them. Luckily, AIM now has a tool that will automatically import all your buddies for you.

Importing Your Contacts


To set it up, just head to the Import to Gmail page and log in to AIM. Once you’ve logged in, it will prompt you to enter your Gmail credentials as well. When it’s done, it will tell you your contacts are imported — that’s it! If you head to Gmail, you should see all your AIM contacts pop up in the Chat sidebar. Note that it only imports the 38 contacts you chat with the most, so if you have more than that, it looks like you’ll have to add them manually.

The Upsides: You Only Need One Login; You Get AIM on Android

The Main idea behind the switch is that you won’t have to deal with two separate logins within Gmail from now on. The other really cool part about this is that you can log into both protocols from one IM client. Since nearly every IM client under the sun has both GTalk and AIM, this isn’t a big deal for desktop users, but it does mean that Android users can now IM their AIM buddies right from Google’s official GTalk app, which is great, since it’s probably the best IM client on Android.

The Downsides: It’s Confusing and Kind of Buggy

Unfortunately, the whole implementation still seems confusing at best, and buggy at worst. Your AIM buddies will no longer see your AIM screen name when you log in; instead it will create a new contact for them using your Gmail address. However, I had the problem where some of my contacts weren’t even showing up in the sidebar — some were only showing their Google Talk contacts, some were showing only AIM, and some were showing up twice, like they used to (though some showed up after a small wait, so perhaps it just takes awhile for everything to register). It’s not combining them, either (which would be awesome)—it’s just excluding some contacts from my buddy list entirely. In addition, the 48 contact limit for the importer is kind of a drag if you have a lot of AIM buddies.

If you use a desktop IM client, of course, you’ll be unaffected by all this, and can continue using GTalk and AIM separately. In fact, we’d recommend doing so. Unless you’re really itching to get AIM in the Gmail web interface or on Android’s Talk app, using a desktop client is still the easiest way to get access to both, and we’d recommend against importing your AIM contacts into Gmail — at least for now. Have you tried the new AIM integration in Gmail? How does it work for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.


  • Doesn’t work, says “There was a problem with your gmail username or password. Please try again” but there is no problem with it. I sign onto gmail every single day. So i read somewhere that the password has to be “weak” in order for aim to get into ur gmail account and what not, but the problem is that gmail won’t allow you to change ur password from a “strong” password to a “weak” one. If you try it says something along the lines of “this password is not secure, please enter a secure password or click the link to find out how to make your passwords more secure”. So it doesn’t even let you enter a “weak” password in order for this aim converter thing to work. This whole thing sucks and they need to fix it, fast.

    • Whitson & Mike, clearly you’re both seeing some issues which we need to resolve. I’m responsible for the Google implementation and am working with our colleagues at AOL to resolve these issues. Thanks for raising them.

    • Mike – the AOL importer uses the Google XMPP interface to add the buddies. Have you had success logging into Google Talk with an XMPP client?

  • if you have google apps you’ll realize that the aim import tool already shows the domain “”, well just enter the email completely with the [at] symbol and the domain. At least it worked for me.

  • Thank you!
    I knew aim and gmail were integrating, but I couldn’t find anywhere in gmail help or settings how to add back my aim contacts. Sheesh!

  • I don’t know if this is a bug. I (using Gtalk) am able to send an IM to my friend who is on AIM. He is able to receive my IM. However, he is unable to reply back to me. The error he gets is is “Your message was not sent to [email protected]. [email protected] is offline.” even though both of us were definitely online at the time.

  • It’s not working for me. I tried to add AIM contacts manually using the format with no luck; I tried importing all of my AIM contacts but that didn’t work either. Sometimes they show up as online or away but always only briefly and they never get my IMs; my Gmail address doesn’t show up in their lists as online even after mutual invitations.

    The funny thing is that before this was officially launched, one of my AIM contacts showed up as both [email protected] and [email protected] — and both worked.

    I don’t like this the least bit. There’s a reason why some people have a Gmail account and kept their AIM screen names.

  • it’s not working well for me. i’m not showing up as ‘online’ to my aim buddies who aren’t using gmail chat…

    also, i cannot find any information from gmail on how to use this new feature; everything is from another website.

  • Having similar problems as Mike and others. First tried to import with my normal (strong) password and get “There was a problem with your gmail username or password. Please try again” Was unable to change the password to a weak one, however I tried a “good” one and a “fair” one with the same same message as above. Also turned off 2 step with all passwords, strong, fair and good and the same issue. Probably spent a good hour on this trying everything I could think of. Hope it gets fixed.. At this point I’d rather sign in to aim through google chat every time.

  • The new implementation is terrible! Half the time aim contacts that have been imported to gchat don’t show up in the sidebar. Now none of my aim contacts show up online in the sidebar.

    Google should have left well enough alone and just allowed you to sign into aim and gchat separately rather than combining the login procedure.

  • Well it’s nice to have the more integrated functionality, but unfortunately a few of my buddies are keeping me from finally kicking aim goodbye. Their aim screen names already have “@” symbols in them (eg “[email protected]”) and this appears to be an unhandled situation. I hope the problem lies in a place where google can fix it, though I can’t say I blame them for it. I’m surprised that aim even allows such a funny character in a screen name.

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