Mac: Adium = IM++

Since I got my Mac I've been using iChat as my instant messaging tool. Not only was it the right price (free), it also supported video chats. I've become quite fond of the video chats, though it is really a tiny fraction of my IM conversations.

What iChat was missing was the way it kept track of my IM conversations. Sure, they are all logged but getting access to them meant opening text files, one for each conversation. What I really wanted was what I had in Trillian: a complete log of every conversation I had ever had with a person in a single location.

I had heard many people mention that I should look at Adium as a replacement to iChat but until today I had held off, mainly because Adium did not support the video chats. I decided I would give it a try anyway. I'm really glad I did!

Adium is about as customizable as anything I have ever seen. You have access to every possible event, pushing them through Growl, and you can change the appearance and behavior of everything I could think of.

Fonts, colors, sizes, borders, themes, alerts, sounds, etc. You name it, Adium can probably customize it. In addition it supports the three main IM locations that I need: AIM, Google Talk and MSN Messenger. It supports a lot more than just, but those were the ones I cared about.

On the chat log (history) front, I can pull up a list of every one of the contacts I have chatted with in Adium and scroll through our conversations. Wonderful - just what I needed. I'm still looking to get my 14MB of chat history in Trillian over and into Adium but it doesn't look like there's a solution to that challenge right now.

There's also been extensive discussion in the Adium blogs, forums and support tickets about adding video at some point in the future. For now I think I'll be spending most of my time in Adium and just pop into iChat if I need to do video.


William said...

There is a plug in for Adium that says it gives you video chat. I revert to iChat for video, and for remote access control to relatives macs I have to help support (on the rare occasion)

Anonymous said...

While I do really like Adium and use it as my primary chat tool, there is a separate program for viewing and managing chat logs on the mac. It existed prior to the Adium log viewer and it supports Adium, iChat, and Fire.

It is Chat Transcript Manager from Unsanity.

Hendrik said...

One neat thing about Adium is that it stores the chat logs in many small files (one per chat I believe). This makes it trivial to synchronize the chat logs between multiple machines without any conflicts. I am using Unison for syncing my laptop and work Mac and this way I always have access to all my chat logs, no matter which computer (and which service) I was using.

devburke said...

Had you tried using Chax with iChat? It's basically a plugin that adds a lot of small features to iChat, and I think one of them is a better way to view chat logs (although I don't know cuz I never use them)

David Alison said...

@devburke: No, haven't tried Chax - hadn't heard of it. I'm a chat log freak - always get perspective scanning through conversations with folks from years ago. Great to get perspective to see what I was worried about at the time. It's pretty close to a private Twitter account I think :-)

Anonymous said...

I always use "Spotlight" in Finder to find iChat Log I am looking for and then double click the file to open the iChat session I had. No messing around with Text Files

devburke said...

Well it sounds like you're happy with Adium, but if you wanna check Chax out, go to

It basically adds a lot of really simple but missing features to iChat, like Growl notifications (I assume you know about Growl), status changes in IM windows, etc.

One of the features I don't use is exactly what you're looking for, a built-in log viewer. I can't comment on how good the log viewer is, never having used it, but the rest of the plugin's great, and I highly recommend it.

battery said...

It basically adds a lot of really simple but missing features to iChat, like Growl notifications (I assume you know about Growl), status changes in IM windows, etc.