Adium has long been a favorite for instant messaging on the Mac. With support for more services than you can shake a stick at and plugins to take care of the rest, Adium pretty much does it all. More than that, though, Adium is infinitely customizable. With a vast library of crowd-sourced Xtras, you can pretty much make Adium look and sound however you want.
We’ll take a look at some of the best Adium Xtras – not just all the awesome Dock and menu bar icons, but also the plugins and AppleScripts that can really boost Adium’s functionality.
Loving the Duck
Every user who downloads Adium can ultimately customize it to be whatever they’d like. We’re going to create five separate Adium “builds,” with different uses and even personalities in mind. While these are a great start, they by no means close the book on Adium Xtras. Mix and match the ones you like, and if you find something that strikes your fancy, try searching the Adium Xtras site for more. There really is no end to what you can do in Adium with a little perseverance.
Xtras for Adium Enthusiasts
Maybe you like Adium just they way it is and you’re wondering why anyone would want to change a thing. This is a set of customizations for people who love Adium out of the box but still want to be able to tweak it a bit. Duck lovers, we’ve got you covered.
Alfred can do just about anything it seems, even change your status on Adium. With just a few easy commands you can change your status to Away, Available, or anything else you’d need.
I really like this plugin, because rather than grabbing whatever track is now playing for your status out of iTunes, it looks to Last.fm instead. It’s a much teasier way for me to let my friends know what I’m really listening to and doesn’t shackle me to any one app for my now playing status.
Pushover is a service that will push messages to your mobile device. If you’ve already got a Pushover account, you can use this plugin to get your Adium messages pushed to your phone if your status is Away or your screen is locked. Pretty nifty.
Yeah, okay, so I admitted Adium is pretty great already, but you can always improve, right? This Dock icon stays true to the spirit of Adium while making the lovable green duck just a bit more cuddly.
The default Adium menu bar icons can be a bit blurry, especially if you have a retina display. If you want something a little more in focus, these icons may be just the thing. There are also more of them, so you’ll get more information about your status, too.
Giving Up Windows Live Messenger
“Gasp, splutter!” I hear coming from all of our loyal, Mac-using readers. I know, I know, but plenty of people used and are still using Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger. Soon the service will be no more, however, and everyone is getting migrated over to Skype. If you’re one of the last holdouts or you just really like the look of Windows Live Messenger, Adium Xtras can help.
First you’ll need to change your Dock icon, and while there are lots of different Windows Live Messenger Dock icons available to download, this is probably my favorite set. Well designed and animated, they just look great.
One of the key ingredients to making an Adium customization work, especially if you’re trying to mimic another application, is the sounds. This goes a long way to doing just that.
Every instant message application seems to have its own set of emoticons, and while there’s often some overlap, sometimes your favorite is left out or just doesn’t render the way you remember. Get your beloved Windows Live Messenger emoticons back with this Xtras pack.
The service icons are all the images that let you know which application your friends are logged into, whether it’s AIM, Facebook, or GoogleTalk. This Xtras pack will keep all those little service icons, and there are a lot of them when you’re using Adium, consistent.
Finally, the big cheese. This is what’s going to make Adium work with Skype once everyone’s forced to make the move from Windows Live Messenger later this year. Adium doesn’t have Skype integration on its own, but this plugin allows you to log in to Skype via Adium. It’s not perfect, and you’ll have to keep Skype open and running while you’re using Adium, but this lets you control your chatting experience in a way Skype alone doesn’t.
Minimalism for the Minimalist
Some of us just want an application window that isn’t going to stick out too much. It’s easy to go overboard with all these Adium Xtras and end up with something that looks like Ducktales meets Terminator, a sort of unholy cyborg conglomeration of traits, leaving you with a half-duck, half-Angry Birds instant messaging abomination. To cut through the clutter, here are a few minimalist Xtras for a little Adium Feng Shui.
This is actually the Adium Dock icon I’m using right now. It’s simple and elegant, and it fits in perfectly on the OS X Dock.
Based on icons found in The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific app for Twitter, these are about the simplest status icons you’ll find for Adium.
If you’re looking for a minimalist layout for Adium, this is about as good as it gets. Gray and slightly less gray backgrounds set the stage for slightly more gray and black text.
Tokyo Train Station has consistently been one of the most popular sound sets for Adium, and with good reason. Gently tinging in the background, it won’t be constantly interrupting whatever else you’re doing with annoying racket.
For the Gamer Geek
There are lots of Adium Xtras for people who love video games. From Angry Birds to Super Mario Bros. to Halo and everything in between, you can pretty much find whatever you want to get Adium looking and sounding exactly how you want. Here are four Xtras to make a great Adium customization, and you can mix and match these with any Xtras dedicated to your favorite games.
I was super excited when I saw there was a plugin for Adium that will allow you to chat on Steam. You don’t even have to have the Steam application installed, which is perfect if you’re using Adium to chat on a secondary computer but don’t have Steam installed there.
Portal is an incredibly popular game, available on consoles and now Steam. Beloved for not just its inventive gameplay and story, Portal also had an amazingly dark sense of humor. A bit of that is caught in the Portal Turrets sound set, which features clips of dialogue from the iconic turrets.
This had been one of my favorite Adium contact list styles for a long time. Standing for “heads-up display” and referencing a video game user interface, HUD resembles the Steam interface more than just a bit.
The Candyball status icons are a nice complement to the HUD contact list style and won’t get in the way of anything else you’re trying to accomplish with the look of your Adium customizations.
Adium OS X Integration
If you really want your Adium custom job to look like it belongs in OS X, that’s not hard to do. There are plenty of Xtras out there to make your duck look like a mountain lion. All you have to do is find the Xtras that are right for you, and I’ve gathered some here to get you started.
Based on the old iChat icon, this Dock icon also features a white duck right in the middle so you know you’re really still in Adium. For anyone who relied on iChat as their primary instant messaging application, this icon may make you feel more than a little nostalgic.
If you’re using Messages for OS X or iOS, you’re already so familiar with the bubble message style, it’s become second nature. The iMessages message style Xtra tries to replicate that same feeling, but it introduces lots of different colors, so you can put your own spin on your Adium customization.
Sort of a hybrid of the Messages menu bar icon and the old iChat icon, this set of menu bar replacement icons have just enough of the OS X feel to fit in with the rest of your icons up there without being mistaken for any of your defaults.
This contact list style is a color scheme to make any layout look like the Finder sidebar. Pair with neutral status and service icons to really complete the look.
Like so many iPhone users, I’m addicted to emoji. This emoticon set puts the full range of iOS emoji into Adium. Just remember, they may not render properly for non-OS X users.
Adium is great as is, but what makes this instant messaging app so special, besides support for tons of services, is that you can make it your own. Beyond just colors and icons, AppleScripts and plugins can improve Adium’s functionality. Do you have any favorite Adium Xtras to share? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget links!