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Freeware Mission – Best Free Instant Messenger

by James 28 November 2008 8 Comments

Here we are, episode 9 of the Freeware Mission! Today I’m going to pick a free Instant Messenger for my computer. Well, most of them are free, but Yahoo Messenger for instance is pretty annoying because of all the ads and self-promotion it displays. After testing several free Instant Messenger programs I’ve narrowed down the choice to two programs: Pidgin and Digsby.


Pidgin 2.4.3

If you’re looking for the best Instant Messenger out there, Pidgin is definitely the best. It support virtually every IM protocol available: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, Groupwise, ICQ, IRC, MSN, MySpaceIM, QQ, SILC, SIMPLE, Sametime, XMPP, Yahoo!, Zephyr. If you add to that a nice interface and great functionality you can not choose anything else. It can run on all Windows and Unix platforms.

But there’s also…

Digsby (Beta Build 15142)

Digsby didn’t have a final release yet, it’s still in beta. But it’s more than promising. Actually, it’s more than an Instant Messenger. IM protocols supported so far: AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber, Facebook Chat. But there’s more, a lot more.
You can manage your e-mail accounts with Digsby: Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL/AIM Mail, IMAP, and POP. You can set up Digsby to track multiple e-mail accounts at the same time, and that’s gold for me, since I have four e-mail accounts and it’s always time-consuming to check them all. With Digsby I can check all of them in a few seconds. And there’s even more!
You can access your social networking accounts through Digsby: Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace, and they are promising support for other networks soon! Digsby can run on Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

These two are very good freeware programs, but I have to choose only one. For me and my needs, the best one is Digsby because of all the possibilities that it offers. And thinking that it’s still in beta, I hope it will develop greatly in the future.

You can download Digsby from here, it’s free!

My Evaluation


Operating System

Windows, Mac OSx, Linux


17.5 MB



Version Tested

Beta Build 15142

Stay tuned for the next episodes of the Freeware Mission, it’s going to be more and more interesting!

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If you have any trouble with this software just leave a comment, I’ll help you out!



  • nick c said:

    i’ve been reading up on multi-protocol IM clients and have seen a few comments about digsby selling information. you heard/experienced any of that? i’ve used pidgin for a while (which displays email notifications, but doesn’t allow responses) but like the email and social networking integration that digsby seems to have.

    oh, trillian astra boasts a pretty impressive feature list…but is still in beta. i just applied for beta testing…it has native video chat support…which i think no other multi IM client has?

    last, some of my friends have been using skype lately for in game chat…so i was looking into ventrilo and teamspeak (not really in the scope of this post, but relevant for my needs) and thought it would be nice if i could find a multi IM client that worked with one of these things. i think they are little too niche, but trillian astra says it integrates with skype (pidgin, too?) when skype is installed.

  • Johnny Karp said:

    @Nick C
    I’ve been using Digsby for months now and I have no evidence they might have sold my contacts to anybody. I don’t know if that happened to other people, but I find that pretty hard to believe.

  • nick c said:

    awesome. thanks for the verification! i think i’ll go ahead and try it while i’m trying the newest pidgin update and hoping to try out trillian astra.
    thanks again for this site…i’ve been referring it to it frequently!

  • Johnny Karp said:

    Hey Nick, you could write a review of Trillian Astra or Pidgin and enter the Freeware Mission contest, who knows… Or if you don’t want to enter the contest maybe just tell us your view after testing those programs. Thanks for visiting the site btw 🙂

  • Richy___ said:


    When I entered the digsby site firefox warned me for a ‘not trusted site’ Serveral people claims that Digsby is full with spyware now.

    See links or just google digsby + spyware.



  • Johnny Karp said:

    Thanks for the heads up Richy, I’m a bit concerned about this after reading the stuff you pointed out. I’ll be uninstalling Digsby until some further clarifications. It seems that I have to take a second look at Pidgin…

  • Nick C said:

    Oh, I beta tested Trillian Astra and had a pretty good experience. I didn’t do any objective tests, but the client seemed a little resource intensive…of course, it was the beta. It is out of beta now and I haven’t used the non beta version, but it couldn’t have gotten worse, right?

    Also, they offer a web-based client which was pretty cool since my workplace blocks many popular IM clients including GTalk.

    I’m usually weary of programs with ‘Pro’ versions, though…just because I want free and total free. That said, I’m a WinAMP (non pro) user and still prefer it to other audio management/listening software I’ve tried.

    Anyway, it may be worth a shot if Digsby usage is a little precarious right now.

  • Johnny Karp said:

    I used Trillian a few years ago and wasn’t impressed. I would be curious to give it a try although the “pro version” is a bit of a turn off.

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