I spend a lot of time on IM. It saves me email inbox space on work-related questions, it connects me with new friends I might otherwise never get to know, and saves me some cash on my phone bill. Up until recently, i’ve happily toiled away on Mac’s native iChat, unaware that there might be better options. 

Mac-users, say hello to Adium. What sets Adium apart initially is its abilty to connect you to all of your IM contacts no matter if they’re using MSN, iChat, AOL, Yahoo, etc. They call that a “multi-protocol Instant Messaging client” just in case you care about such nomenclature.

I don’t happen to talk regularly with anyone who uses MSN, Yahoo, etc. so the multi-protocol thing doesn’t faze me. What won me over was Adium’s handy features like tabbed chat windows and a completely customizable interface. My favorite little feature is the Safari-specific hyperlink button. Click the button and, if Safari is open, Adium will auto-insert the foremost window’s URL for you. But seriously, let’s get back to the TABBED CHAT WINDOWS. One window open… just one. Amazing. Why hasn’t Apple intergrated this into iChat yet? That’s very surprising.

The only gripe about Adium is its poor file transferring capabilities, but iChat never worked consistently for me in that realm either, so it’s really no loss. However, your first mission will be to change the HIDEOUS, UNFORGIVABLE dock icon and then get rid of the default soundset… unless you like to be lulled into conversation by ducks quacking at you, in which case you’ll be good to go. Quack.

If you want a more detailed run down of the features and a list of what you’ll need to get started, Mike Davidson has a great blog post here that will be a big help.