Adium X

Chat clients might be my favorite method for quick communication on my Mac at home or at work. Falling somewhere between the telephone and e-mail programs when it comes to communication, a good chat client offers advantages over both that make them unique and useful for anyone. They're especially helpful at work for sending links and files when the formality of an e-mail is too cumbersome for what you're trying to communicate.

I've used most popular chat clients for the Mac including ICQ and Yahoo Messenger, and I've even sampled the fantastic Internet Relay Chat client called Snak (really, if you're serious about IRC there is none better). iChat is an obvious choice because it comes on all new Macs, but the problem I had was that some of my friends used other clients, and I couldn't connect with everyone from one program. My only option was to run multiple clients simultaneously, so I could chat with all of my friends and co-workers, which just didn't seem very efficient. Fortunately, someone developed a chat client that's designed to connect with most of the big-name clients. Adium X lets me connect with iChat, AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, Gadu-Gadu, Jabber, MSN, Trepia, and Napster, all from within the same program. Plus, the tabbed interface makes it easy to switch between people I'm having conversations with.

Those who use only one program and don't have friends on other networks probably don't need to download Adium X, but I thought it might be a good idea to let people know that there are options. Clearly, if one program can do the job of three, it's definitely a worthwhile download. Recent updates have made this great chat client even better, so if you were thinking about switching to a chat client that talks to more networks, it just might be the perfect time to take the leap.

What chat client do you use? Do you run more that one client at the same time because you have friends on other networks? Let me know in the comments!

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.