IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a great way to learn, share, and chat with others on similar areas of interest. There are a number of Mac and web applications for accessing this huge online community, but Linkinus from Conceited Software is now one of the more full featured out there.
This article will take a look at how to get going on IRC using Linkinus, what the app can do, and some advanced tips and tricks.
The first time you launch Linkinus, you will be asked to enter a username you would like to use. If you are already registered on an IRC network, you can enter passwords here as well.
After completing that, the main window will reveal itself with a collection of various IRC networks that you can join. Double clicking on one of these will connect you up with the network.
From here you can browse a full list of channels, or join a specific one. Unfortunately, you can’t search the channel list until it has fully loaded which can take a while. When setting up with IRC its a good idea to know at least what type of channels you wish to join so you know what to look for.
Features & Functionality
Linkinus packs a fantastic set of features, many of which aren’t found in other IRC clients. Here’s some of the ones which stand out:
If you have multiple chats open at the same time, rather than switching between them, you can actually view them side by side by selecting them all while holding down the command key.
This is great, and even allows you to save different Groups for instant access to multiple chats at a later time.
Linkinus can stay rolling on IRC after you quit the application by keeping a small icon in the menu bar. This way, when you open it up again later, all messages that took place while closed will be there as though you never left.
Stars & Highlights
Highlighting is a common feature across most IRC clients. If someone uses your name, it will be highlighted so that you don’t miss the message. Linkinus also includes a nice feature called ‘Starring’ which is the equivalent of bookmarking a message for later reference. To star a message, all you have to do is click on the username next to it.
I was very impressed when I saw someone share an image inside IRC. Unlike most other clients which simply provide a link, Linkinus actually embeds the graphic inside the chat so you can see it without having to open a new window in your browser. This even works for elements like YouTube videos!
The Preferences in Linkinus are filled with a huge range of customization. In fact there are so many different options they couldn’t fit them all in the toolbar (not usually a good sign!)
You can change the style of how the app displays, including alternative themes, or edit status messages, colors, and sounds. You can also have Linkinus work seamlessly with Growl notifications, and so much more!
Something that is worth sharing that annoyed me when I first set up Linkinus is that all server messages create their own chat with a badge of unread messages next to them. To make these go away, or at least hide them, go into the ‘Miscellaneous’ tab and switch “Show Incoming Notices” to “In the network’s console”. This should take effect after you close all open server chats and relaunch.
It’s great to see the team at Conceited Software have a sense of humor. They have included a fun set of scripts you can use inside your chats – some useful, and some just purely entertaining.
For example, typing “/abrb” will leave a random funny message such as “brb – The FBI just called, I’m wanted for a special mission.” Along with these, you can get quotes off Homer from The Simpsons or Bender from Futurama, reverse your text, or even flip it!
These scripts also serve a useful purpose though, letting you know the weather, Googling for you, or listing your current open applications in the dock.
Being an IRC application, Linkinus offers excellent support from right within the app itself. Just log into their channel, and you can ask a question to anyone of the 40 or so helpful users and developers in there. They also offer a great wiki for starting out.
There are a couple of minor things which annoy me about Linkinus. The first is that when typing long messages, the text field doesn’t grow taller as it does in other apps, meaning you can’t see your entire message at once until posted. The second is even more minor, but I can’t say I’m a big of the sound alerts included in the app.
Linkinus is definitely an excellent option to check out if you use IRC or want to try it out. I occasionally use it to get instant feedback or technical support from lots of helpful and willing people on specific topics.
This is a very full featured IRC client, and worthy of its €19.99 (approx. $27 US) price tag. They have a free 15 day trial, so have a play and let us know what you think of it, or how you like to use IRC!