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Mac OS X Hacks by Rael Dornfest, Kevin Hemenway

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AIM Alternatives

There are various feature-packed alternatives to the default AOL Instant Messenger client for Mac OS X.

When people started discovering AOL’s Instant Messenger taking up a large portion of their CPU for seemingly menial (or nonexistent) tasks, the proverbial chad hit the fan; people wanted something better and they wanted it now, regardless of what silly or pointless features they may end up missing. Let’s take a brief look at some of the alternatives that have gained popularity:

iChat (http://www.apple.com/ichat/)

Since Apple ships iChat with its OS X 10.2, there’s a very good chance that iChat will become the reigning champ of AIM imitators. Created with the blessing of AOL itself, iChat supports chats, file transfers, and buddy icons and uses a GUI that manifests messages into cartoon-style balloons (which don’t look as bad as they sound). It has strong support for Mail (a column that tells you if the sender of the email is online) and the Address Book, along with the ability to customize which actions will be performed for a number of common events (buddy logging in, buddy typing, etc.).

Adium (http://www.adiumx.com)

Adium has been gaining a strong following for guerrilla AIM users, mainly due to its immense customization and its low system requirements. It has a clean and refined interface, as well as being minimal for those worried about screen real estate. It’s free and is built using Cocoa (and thus gets a number of things for free: spellchecking, antialiasing, ...

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