Adium is our favourite instant messaging application for Mac OS X, not only for all its great built-in features, but for all the features you can add with Xtras. There are heaps of options that let you customise Adium's look and functionality. Here are our favourites.
Title image remixed from an original by Qsec.
Adium has a range of neat plugins that enhance its features and solve annoying problems. Here are a few that we find particularly useful.
Sometimes you don't use just Adium for your instant messaging needs. Sometimes you use a mobile client, have to jump onto iChat for a video conference, or are signed into Adium at home and at work. If you're an AIM user, this is when AOLSystemMsg -- AIM's automated multi-sign-on robot patrol beast -- rears its obnoxious head. Just in case you weren't aware that you were using your account in two places, this jerk has to tell you. Actually, this is a very useful message designed to alert you to potentially unauthorised activity on your account, but it's pretty annoying most of the time because you cause it to pop up yourself. Long story short, this plugin ignores these messages so you never have to see them again -- when using Adium, anyway.
All is well in the world of Adium chat until you have a buddy on Skype. Suddenly you have to leave Adium and go chat in Skype's excessively large interface. You don't get the advantages of Adium, either. It sucks. But wait! If you install the Skype plug-in, you can chat with your Skype buddies within Adium. The downside is that you must have Skype running at the same time, but there are worse things.
OMG, u have 2 try this plugin! If those messages drive you nuts and you can't convince the person sending them to just stop it already you should download the DeAbbrevIfier plug-in. It'll let you specify abbreviations you don't enjoy and how you'd like them replaced. It's a very simple way to avoid annoying pseudo-words. I'll be using it to change Whitson's LOLs to LOL (I'm not actually laughing out loud, by the way.)
If you're being troubled by spammy instant messages and want to filter out these nuisances, you need the SpamFilter plugin. It can hide messages with certain words or phrases, plus you can even use regular expressions to match more complex phrases (if you know how to write them). It's simple to understand and simple to use. No more spam!
When someone links to an image in a message, it's a little annoying to have to interrupt the conversation by clicking on it to view it in your browser. Adinline turns image links into actual, embedded images in your chat so you don't have to bother. This is a great solution so long as you don't have a friend who likes to send you pornographic images at work. You know who you are.
If you find clicking on image links annoying, you probably don't like clicking on YouTube links either. This plugin embeds YouTube videos right in your chat, but the video starts off as series of thumbnails so as not to bombard you with a giant flash video. When you see the thumbnails, you can click them to view the video in the chat window or simply click the link to view in your browser. The plugin leaves the choice up to you.
Themes (and Interface Elements)
Adium is a pretty nice-looking application by default, but you may prefer a different look or care to create your own style. Adium makes it easy to do this, and there are a few themes that are especially nice. Here are some of our favourites.
Pretty Simple is my theme of choice. It comes with a message and contact list style that is -- you guessed it! -- nice and simple. It's also pretty! I like this theme because it's minimal, looks nice and lets the messages be the prominent thing you're looking at. The message style is also very straightforward and goes well with the lovely status icons I'm about to mention.
If you're not into the colourful status icons you get by default, or with most other status icon packs, come on over to the grey side and simplify your buddy list. This icon set is just a bunch of flat grey icons, but they look really nice on most contact lists.
Why would you not want your messages to look like stickers? This theme comes with several colours of sticker-like chat balloons on a nice, white background (which you can change to something else, of course).
Renkoo is a very simple, flat coloured chat bubble style. If you want simplicity but seek to add a little colour to your messages, it's a good theme to try. You get a white background by default, so it's best to have one ready to add yourself if that sounds a little dull.
The ArsTechnica theme is a message style that keeps your chat windows small and simple. There's not much to it, but it looks pretty nice nonetheless. If you want to keep things small, this is a good choice.
Durarara is a theme based on an anime series. It's got nice, glossy bubbles on a dark grey background.
A Few Great Dock Icons
There's really no sense in describing every dock icon in great detail, so here's a list of a few great options to try out:
- Flurry Adium - iPhone style.
- FatBird.green - The name is self-explanatory.
- AdiumTwit - Twitter style.
- AdiumIcon - A cross between a speech bubble and a lightbulb.
- Marten-nu - A cool grab speech bubble.
- iBubble 3 - iChat style.
- Adium CS4 - Adobe CS style.
- 4 8 15 16 23 42 - Lost is dead to me, but this icon is great.
- xi4dox - A glossy bubble.
- Gamma Stickers - A sticker-like chat bubble with a hypnotic connecting animation.
- SnoopyDock - Because Snoopy is old school awesome.
The default IM sounds aren't always ideal. You may prefer something more soothing, or at least different from the norm. Here are some great alternatives to Adium's standard sounds:
- Tokyo Train Station - This is the sound set of choice for several Lifehacker writers. It's simple and soothing.
- Wii Sounds - If you like the sounds of the Nintendo Wii, make them the sounds of your instant messages.
- Elysium - If most IM sound sets are too intense or loud for you, you want Elysium. It uses the soothing sounds of a harp to inform you of various events.
- Marimba - Another pleasant sound set, just a little more direct than a harp.
Got any other great Adium plugins, themes, or sound sets you love? Share 'em in the comments!