The Best Instant Messaging Application For Mac

The competition for best instant messaging client on Mac is tough, and while the platform is full of good contenders, we believe Adium wins out thanks to its high level of customisability, broad support for different IM services, and open-sourced codebase.


Platform: Mac OS X
Price: Free, open source
Download Page


  • Supports AIM, GTalk, Jabber, Yahoo and just about every service you could use to send an instant message.
  • Tabbed chats
  • Highly theme-able, letting you make your buddy lists and chat windows look just about any way you want. On top of that, you can add custom sound sets.
  • Adium supports extensions, so you can add new features that don’t already come with the app.
  • Excellent chat logging system
  • Support for 27 different languages
  • Integrates with the OS X Address Book app

Where It Excels

Adium is lightweight, supports just about every type of IM account you could think to use, and is incredibly customisable. Not only can you theme the look of just about every aspect of the app, but you can change the alert sounds and install extensions to add more functionality. Adium is a great IM client on its own, but also provides you with the ability to add what you think is missing.

Where It Needs Work

Beyond text chat, you can’t do much else. Adium has long been without support for voice and video chat. While those features are certainly secondary to standard instant messaging, it’s still annoying to have to open iChat or Skype when you’d prefer to talk without typing.

The Competition

iChat is an obvious alternative, and may be worthwhile if you video/audio chat often and only use one of the few IM services it supports. Nothing truly matches Adium, and anything comparable is either ad-supported or costs money.

Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories. This week, we’re focusing on IM clients.

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