7 Fantastic Free Online Instant Messengers

Multiplicity. A huge problem when it comes to communication. We all have friends who use either multiple IM accounts or multiple IM services. This problem was tackled by desktop apps that can handle multiple protocols and accounts. But then again, we use multiple computers and mobile devices for work and personal use. Installing these desktop IM apps on a work computer may not be possible thanks to the IT team.

Unlike these desktop IM apps, online instant messengers do not require plugins or installers. Hence these web based IM apps have found a huge user base and some services are handling millions of users.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular online IM apps.

Meebo

Meebo

Meebo

Meebo is the most popular among the free online IM services and for a very good reason. Meebo is a pioneer in the web IM domain over all these years and supports an umpteen number of IM protocols. In addition to the popular services like AIM, Yahoo, MSN, GTalk, etc. Meebo also supports lesser known IM services such as Flixster, Threadsy and myyearbook.

It’s fully featured and often has more features than any of the desktop IM clients. Meebo supports file sharing, video & voice chat, invisible mode and much more. Once logged in, the interface is simple, uncluttered and does not eat up memory even when multiple chat windows are open. There is a great Firefox extension that helps to run Meebo from the sidebar. Meebo is available as a native app for iPhone, besides having a great mobile version of the site.

  • Supported IM Services: Meebo supports an impressive 65 IM services in total. So if there is a messaging service available on the Internet, you can bet it is supported in Meebo.

  • Sign Up: Required to manage multiple accounts and protocols. However, you can choose to login to individual networks without a Meebo account.

  • Privacy & Security: Passwords are encrypted. Chats are logged for those with a Meebo account.

eBuddy

ebuddy

ebuddy

eBuddy has been around for a while, but has become a rage in the past few months thanks to its famous iPhone client. ebuddy’s IM service is fully featured and the UI is a sight for sore eyes. eBuddy allows you to have all your buddies from multiple IM accounts in one single list. Chats are arranged in tabs making life easy for users with multiple conversations running most of the time.

Organizing your contacts from multiple accounts is a much sought after feature in eBuddy. eBuddy claims that on an average, each user manages 200 contacts via their eBuddy account. That sums up everything. eBuddy also works from behind firewalls.

  • Supported IM Services: eBuddy supports MSN, Yahoo, Gtalk, Facebook, ICQ, MySpace and AIM (AOL).
  • Sign Up: Optional. Sign up enables faster signing in to multiple accounts and unlocks premium features like more emoticons.
  • Privacy & Security: Passwords are encrypted. No information regarding chat logs in their privacy policy.

Nimbuzz

Nimbuzz

Nimbuzz

Nimbuzz is getting all the buzz from its mobile clients, the most famous being the iPhone app. Just as its native iPhone app, Nimbuzz also offers a fabulous web messaging service. Like Meebo, Nimbuzz also handles voice & video chats, file sharing and group chats with panache. However, it steals the thunder away from any other competing IM service with its impeccable support for VOIP calls. Skype is supported out of the box, enabling users to make free or cheap VOIP calls.

Logging into individual networks is absolutely not necessary. Once you login to your Nimbuzz account, all the associated IM networks are logged in automatically. The interface is simple, yet gorgeous and you can group online buddies in anyway you please, irrespective of the network they are in. As an icing on the cake, Nimbuzz also lets you know the physical location of your chat buddy, if he/she has the feature turned on.

  • Supported IM Services: Nimbuzz supports MSN, Yahoo, facebook, GTalk, AIM, Myspace, ICQ, studiVZ, Gadu-Gadu, Hyves, Giovani and Skype.
  • Sign Up: Required to manage multiple accounts and protocols.
  • Privacy & Security: Passwords are encrypted. Chats are logged for registered users and they can’t be deleted by the user.

imo.im

imo.im

imo.im

Being a relative newcomer, imo.im offers its own set of unique features. One of the features that keeps me hooked to imo.im is the concept of linked accounts. With this feature, all your IM accounts can be linked together from the settings page. When you login to one of your linked accounts, you will be automatically logged into all your other linked IM accounts as well. Pretty neat isn’t it?

imo allows grouping of buddies using lists and sorting by adding a star to buddies you talk often. imo.im user interface is simple and minimal, offering a decent set of features like blocking or hiding from buddies, renaming buddy names, Skype integration, video and voice chat. Buddies chatting from a mobile phone are indicated by a mobile phone icon right next to them. 

  • Supported IM Services: imo.im supports MSN, Yahoo, facebook, GTalk, AIM, Myspace, ICQ and Skype.
  • Sign Up: Required to manage multiple accounts and protocols.
  • Privacy & Security: Passwords are encrypted. No information regarding chat logs in their privacy policy.

KoolIM

Koolim

KoolIM

KoolIM presents a friendly, lightweight and easy to use online IM interface mimicking almost all common features we expect from a desktop Instant Messenger. You can chat either using the embedded client available right within the browser window or a pop up client that looks like a desktop app. KoolIM also boasts that it will work from behind any firewall or proxy server in a corporate environment.

  • Supported IM Services: Kool IM supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber , Gtalk, Gadu Gadu on the consumer side. On the enterprise side it supports Sametime, Simple, SIP, LCS, and Jabber.
  • Sign Up: Optional. Users can login to multiple accounts without signing up.
  • Privacy & Security: Passwords are encrypted. Privacy policy explicitly states that they do not monitor or log conversations.

ILoveIM

ILoveIM

ILoveIM

ILoveIM is a simple yet reliable online IM app. The service has been around since 2004 and performs most of the basic functions we expect from a messenger app. ILoveIM enables you to be invisible right from from the sign up page.

  • Supported IM Services: ILoveIM supports MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Myspace and Gtalk.
  • Sign Up: Not required.
  • Privacy & Security: Passwords are encrypted with a 1024 bit RSA key and is a participant of the TRUSTe Privacy Seal Program.

Yahoo Messenger

Yahoo

Yahoo

Almost everyone knows very much about this iconic IM service. Yahoo is a name that is synonymous with simplicity and security, so is this web app from them.

  • Supported IM Services: Yahoo and MSN.
  • Sign Up: Required.
  • Privacy & Security: Passwords are encrypted and chat history is stored.

Conclusion

All the online web messengers reviewed perform as advertised. People who are privacy conscious should know that Nimbuzz users are complaining in their support forum over the inability to delete chat logs. Personally I found Meebo to be full featured and constantly innovating to enhance the user experience.

Do try one or a few of these web messengers and let us know what you think in the comments section. If you use a great service that we missed to mention, do comment about that too.

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Intro. icon image credit: Steven Ligatsa


  • http://usa.blog.nimbuzz.com/ Daniel Torres

    Hey Guys – This is Daniel from Nimbuzz.

    Thanks for the mention and recommendation. This is great feedback for us.

    If you want more info check us out at http://usa.blog.nimbuzz.com.

    All feedback and comments are more than welcome, especially on our new Mac client.

    Thanks again!

    Daniel

    • Maddy

      I have a Nimbuzz!

    • Emmanuel Donkor

      anytime i sign into ebuddy and register facebook , i am told my facebook account is not available on mobile and so i should regain access from the computer but i use the computer it does not even work on the computer. please help me

  • http://mahmudurrahmanblog.blogspot.com Mahmudur Rahman

    I have account all these messengers. Thanks for sharing this nice post. :)

  • http://www.azadshaikh.com Azad Shaikh

    I am going to try meebo today itself. Hope this one solves my IM problems.

    Warm Regards,
    Azad Shaikh (The Internet Geek)

  • gemma

    heey im am a teenage skool student and i was wondering if you could find me an online messenger that isnot blocked on our skool computers
    could u email me if u do

    thankyou
    :)

    • http://IMO.im Kimberly.

      This works in my school…

  • http://webuzz.im/ WeBuzz

    Hi, besides the above top 7 IM list, there is another new free online instant messenger – WeBuzz.IM ( http://webuzz.im/ ):
    1. Supports Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook Chat, AIM, ICQ or Jabber/XMPP. Support multiple logins for all protocols
    2. No sign up is needed
    3. Password is encrypted using RSA algorithm before sending to server. Password can be saved on browser side. Server side doesn’t remember password.

    For screenshot of WeBuzz.IM, please visit: http://webuzz.im/images/webuzz.im.jpg

  • Raja

    I am using meebo and is very satisfied with it. i can have most of my IMs and chat with all my friends by opening at a single place. only regret is some of my friends are in Rediff and at meebo i cannot add them there. hope some day they will do that too.

  • Socratis

    All of this things are nice to use but I think Chatwing.com must be added to this list,
    As I’ve checked chatwing and tried for a couple of days, there system is so nice also to used even though there system is not old enough but whatever it is, check this out guys, http://www.chatwing.com

  • http://infosagala.com Sagala

    Hi thanks for sharing, Your post about im very useful but what about Digsby because until now I use disgby

  • Kevin

    meebo is the best IM app; most security, great fast customer support, UI is clean and user friendly.

    imo.im is a close 2nd; since you dont need to make an account to sync all your IMs.

  • satish

    thanx for better information about IM services.

  • http://hhj neha

    hi

  • courts

    hey XD
    I also want to know if there is an “unblocked” IM website
    that I could use whilst I am at school
    it would be great
    cause I live really far away from my boyfriend
    and dont get much oppotunity to talk to him at home
    thanking you kindly <3

  • http://revel-arte.blogspot.com pauloandes

    I’ve in IM for years, from Mirc, Icq, Trillian, Odigo, just for being connected, now I use Multi IM a lot more, since I am a Tech Support from a Software developers company in education platforms and I like to keep friend connected while in work (::Problem?::).
    I’ve been using Meebo for a long time and I think it has the best balance of features (I’ve compared in other websites before posting here) but I needed to find an alternative because It was blocked by FireWall or proxy in the workplace I’m right now. I found IMO.IM made it through, and it also let me connect my Skype account wich Meebo lacks of.
    I also Love the clean interfaces, history and other nice features but eachone has its own…
    Meebo.com: color/skin change, applet(meebome), chat/message people Not into your list.

    IMO.im: firewall/Proxy crossing (I can reach facebook chat even though facebook.com an derivates are blocked)

    And the cons: for Both and others i’ve tested, can´t handle the “invisible” state/protocol correctly, mostly for facebook and Gtlak. For Msn appears to be working.
    IMO puts a textglobe saying faceboook doesn’t support this feature, but c’mon, while you’re into facebook you cant “disconnect chat” and keep knowing who’s online. And Gtlak itslef does support Invisible State.

    Well that’s all folks… for now. I hope it can help you decide… and if you find the best for me, please don’t doubt to mail or message me.

  • Dharm Parikh

    Hey guys,
    I work on a ship and our Internet services are expensive (abt 0.55 usd/mb) due to satellite internet and would like to know about messenger which would consume the least data uploads/ downloads / bandwidth.
    Is there any other way to operate the mobile version messengers on desktop computers.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Wow, very neat you work on a ship. I think your best bet for using the least data would be to use a native chat app on your computer. Pidgin and Adium are great choices for Windows and Macs, respectively. Then, just using text chat over, say, Google Talk or MSN Messenger accounts shouldn’t use too much data.

      When your internet is that pricey, in-browser web apps are likely not the best option :)

      • Dharm

        Hello Mathew,

        Many thanks for your reply.
        Yup tried gtalk, in-browser web apps and they seem to be very expensive. e-buddy is a good option but its interface is very poor for chat.
        Will try out pidgin as you suggest as am looking at a text chat client which would help a lot of sailors around the world.

  • http://asadsalman.com/ Asad Salman

    And, since Google acquired Meebo, its messenger is shutting down on 11th June.

  • RT

    Meebo is shutting down as of July 11, 2012. It’s been great, I’ve used it a long time. They were bought by Google, apparently (what else is new?) I don’t use mobile………… (yet)……… but if I did I would hope to be able to depend on a safe web-based chat that does not invade my privacy.

    I’ve used IMO, it’s decent. But for us old fashioned folk who use a PC, there are plenty of us who still would like to know if there are any still out there.

  • jhon

    gado pudi yavre ke

  • Sudhakar

    My Employer is planning to install a new internal web messenger service in our office and had enquired about the free best available internal web messengers .Could somone suggest me which are the best ones available in the market

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      If you’re looking for something like Campfire that’s self-hosted, http://kikuchat.com or the open-source http://www.igniterealtime.org/projects/openfire/ might be a good option. If it doesn’t have to be absolutely real-time, WordPress with the P2 theme might fit the bill.

    • Sudhakar

      Hello Matthew,

      Thank you for your reply. My boss came up with few changes in the requirement. He is looking for Web Messenger service (freeware or paid) which can be used in our newly launched offices across multiple locations (USA,UAE and India) .

      • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

        If it can be a hosted online service, I’d highly recommend either Campfire or Hipchat. I’ve used both of them with various companies I’ve worked with, and they’re great.

  • Syed Abid Hussain Naoshad Qureshi Al Hashmi

    Wow, very neat you work on a ship. I think your best bet for using the least data would be to use a native chat app on your computer. Pidgin and Adium are great choices for Windows and Macs, respectively. Then, just using text chat over, say, Google Talk or MSN Messenger accounts shouldn’t use too much data.
    When your internet is that pricey, in-browser web apps are likely not the best option

  • 233232

    thank you can u please get one that works in my school

  • Erin Smith

    hey im sittin in my world history class bein so bored lol tryin to talk to my frined jd but are computers are all locked up so hopefully this works cuz its my last option. lol :) i <3 Blaine! ;)

  • http://Kabul Wasiq

    Dear

    i am using Nokia N9 but i can get Nimbuzz for it. kindly please help me
    thanks

  • jay

    Hay guys, if anyone actually reads this, you all should try out the WinBus Messenger. There are many static rooms and you can also make a room of your own, please come and say hello :D

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