At my office we are required to be on an IM client for the entire work day. This is partly due to the company having multiple offices and partly due to some people working from home. In any case I did not much care for the client they had installed for me (Trillian Basic 31) and I had seen several articles around the web about other IM clients. A few weeks back I decided to take the plug and start trying out some of those other clients.
This was the first alternate IM client I looked at. It got bonus points for being multi-platform and open source, but was ultimately rejected as their website for it is so poor I couldn’t figure out if it supports sending/receiving files via the various IM protocols I use. To be perfectly fair, I probably should have worked with Pidgin a bit more to see if it could do what I wanted. However I also knew I couldn’t be offline too much while playing around with different clients and since they didn’t make the bits I needed obvious; I quickly moved on.
Miranda was the second IM client I looked at and is the one I currently use. Like Pidgin, it got bonus points for being open-source2 and as an added plus, Miranda’s site was simple enough for me to navigate and find the information I needed. Unfortunately, a fresh install of Miranda is very basic and is missing a number of features I wanted/needed. However Miranda appears to have an extensive community and there are many add-ons which brought it up to snuff.
- tabSRMM: By default, Miranda displays all new IM chats in different windows; tabSRMM lets you group those chats into a single window. I configured my copy to only group together chats from users in the same group of contacts. It makes it easier for me to keep track of who/where I’m talking to. And yes, those of my co-workers who have seen my IM client do say I’m rather anal in how detailed it is organized.
- Updater: Automagically checks for and installs any updates to Miranda and supported plugins.
- Modern Contact List: This plugin gives you more control over the look&feel of the contact list, including theme support.
- GnuPG: Enables OpenPGP/GnuPG encryption support.
- SecureIM: In theory this plugin enables Miranda to use the various encryption methods of the various IM protocols but I’ve not yet gotten it to work. Then again I’ve not tried that hard to get it working either.
- MetaContacts: Several people I know have multiple IM accounts and will send me messages using different accounts at different times. Since I only very rarely remove anybody from my contact list; this can get confusing remember which contact is which. MetaContacts lets me combine various screen names into 1 “metacontact”. So if I have 3 screen names in my contact list for the same person, I can group them together under the same metacontact. Basically it keeps my contact list a bit cleaner and makes it easier for me to contact people without having to remember which screen name to send to.
- History++: Makes viewing/searching through my IM chat logs easier.
- UserInfoEx: Gives you more fields to store more data about your contacts. It can import/export vCard files and even remind you when a contact’s birthday is coming up.
- StartupStatus: Miranda IM supports multiple IM protocols. There is only one IM protocol I need to connect to for work, but there are several others I like to connect for personal reasons. But I also don’t want to be showing up as available/online/free for chat on those other protocols. This plugin lets me setup profiles for what statuses I want set for each protocol and can trigger that profile on startup or after a specific keystroke. Mostly I use it to show up as online on the “work” IM protocol and invisible on everything else.
- SmileyAdd: What fun would IM be without graphical smilies? Exactly and that’s why I’ve got this addon installed. I use the MSN Tango Smileys with it.
1It always felt very buggy. It had high memory usage and couldn’t handle be shifted to my 2nd monitor very well. I use MultiMon to help organize the stuff I am working on/with and Trillian didn’t like it.
2Besides what Firefly fan could turn down an IM client named Miranda! *grin*