Chat on the go with Pidgin Portable

Unify your IM accounts with this portable freeware.

Pidgin Portable is a fully portable version of Pidgin, the unified chat app formerly known as GAIM. It handles multiple instant messaging accounts in one simple interface, including not only the big names like AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and ICQ but also less common networks such as Jabber, SILC, XMPP, and MXit. Like the standard installed version, Pidgin Portable is freeware, but its portability means you can take your IM account settings and buddy lists with you on a USB drive. It handles many plug-ins, including encryption tools.

Since PortableApps converted Pidgin, we were confident that the portable version would download and run with no problems, and that proved to be the case. You can save the program to any directory, including USB drives and other remote or portable destinations, and run it with a click. We saved our download to a folder on our desktop. Pidgin Portable's download includes a browser-based Help file. The documentation includes specific recommendations for the portable version, such as removing the USB drive when you're finished with Pidgeon Portable if you're running the program from such a device. Of course, the general recommendations apply, too--above all, "Stay Safe."

Pidgin Portable automatically recognizes most chat programs, but we could also add 17 different accounts manually, and edit our settings from the Add Account dialog. We could also use the Add Account tool to configure a local alias and buddy icon to use in all accounts, and we could authorize new mail notifications. Advanced options include proxy settings, client log-in, and multiple simultaneous log-ins.

In all other ways, Pidgin Portable is just like the locally installed version in features and performance. We liked the installed version when we tested it, and we like the portable version just as much. In fact, if you already use Pidgin, you can easily copy your settings from the installed version to the portable version's Data folder. If you regularly use chat programs at more than one PC, Pidgin Portable not only handles all the different IM tools but also lets you take your personal settings with you.

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