Pidgin is a chat program which lets you log in to accounts on multiple chat networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on MSN, talking to a friend on Google Talk, and sitting in a Yahoo chat room all at the same time.

It features some of the standard tools for an instant-messaging client, such as a contact list, file transfer on supported protocols, and conversation and chat logging. A tabbed conversation is an optional feature. The IM window consists of the message window, formatting tools, and an edit box.

Users can add contacts (usually known as “Buddies”) in the “Buddy List” window or in the IM window. As a client that supports IRC and other chat programs, can also add different IRC channels and IM Chats. Contacts with multiple protocols can be grouped into one single contact instead of managing multiple protocols, and contacts can be given aliases or placed into groups.

Pidgin is compatible with the following chat networks out of the box: AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MXit, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr. It can support many more with plugins.

It supports many features of these chat networks, such as file transfers with the ability to cancel transfers and observe multiple transfers in a separate window, while lacking some protocol-specific features like the folder sharing available from Yahoo, away messages, buddy icons, custom smilies, and typing notifications. Numerous plugins also extend functionality above and beyond the standard features.

It integrates with the system tray on Windows, GNOME2, KDE 3, and KDE 4.

Pidgin is free and contains no ads. All their code is open source and licensed under the GNU General Public License. This means you can get  underlying code and modify it to suit your needs.

Other features are supported using third-party plugins. Such features include:

  • Encryption and privacy, through Off-the-Record Messaging (OTR)
  • Notifications (such as showing “toaster” popups or Snarl notifications, or lighting LEDs on laptops)
  • Showing contacts what you are listening to in various media players
  • Adding mathematical formulas written in LaTeX to conversations
  • Watching videos directly into your conversation when receiving a video sharing website link (YouTube, Vimeo)