OS X? Adium.

On OS X? Using iChat? Time to switch to Adium. I tried Adium maybe a couple years ago and was underwhelmed, so when I started hearing people talk about it I figured that it wasn’t anything worth checking out. Eventually the buzz got to me and I downloaded it again. Guess what? In a couple years software can get a lot better!

So what won me over this time?

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The interface
It’s super simple. Easy to set up, easy to keep running.
Address Book integration
I love how iChat integrates with the OS X Address Book, and Adium is just as hooked in.
Hella configurable
There are a metric ass-load of add-ons available. Installation is a snap too, you can install right from the browser. (If you’re a Homestar Runner fan, check out this conversation layout and this soundset). Also, creating new message styles is just XHTML and CSS.
Most of my IM in one place
My AIM, my Jabber, and even the accounts I have but don’t use all in one contact window, thanks to the Gaim underpinnings. It even supports Zeroconf, err, I mean Rendezvous, err, I mean Bonjour. The one network it doesn’t support is Skype, so unfortunately I have to have 2 IM apps open.
Built-in crypto
It supports OTR encryption out of the box, and it’s super easy to get going.
Growl support
If you use Growl, you’ll appreciate the built-in support. No extra apps required.
History in chat windows
When you start a new conversation, the recent history is displayed. This is great if you leave a message for someone, close the window, and then the other person replies after you’ve forgotten what you’re talking about.
Open source
All things being equal, I prefer an open source solution. All things aren’t equal here though, this blows iChat out of the water.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its shortcomings. If you use iChat for audio or video conferencing, you’ll probably want to stick with it. Another big hurdle is that sending files doesn’t work as well as iChat, likely due to NAT issues (which a simple upgrade should fix). The only other problem I have with it is that I can’t find a dock icon that doesn’t flash when I have an unread message, which I find distracting. [Update: Brian found a dock icon that isn’t animated.]

I’m pretty geeked about it, I like seeing an open source app that gets OS X UI right. Geeked enough to evangelize in my blog. Check out the screenshots, go download it and give it a try.

Further reading:
Tim Bray: Adium is the Future
Eric Meyer: Adium: Chatting With Style

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