Meta-contacts in Pidgin

September 03, 2011

Pidgin is my IM client of choice, its one of the first things I replace in a stock installation of Ubuntu.
I chose Pidgin not because of a slick UI but because it has some really nice features!

The two features that stand out the most in my opinion are the “buddy pounces” and the many available plugins:

Buddy pounces:
For those that don’t know about pounces, they are little predefined actions that can be triggered upon some configurable event, such as “when <SomeContact> returns from away status, open a conversation window”, or “when <SomeContact> signs on, send them a predefined message”.

Not only does Pidgin come with lots of plugins by default, but there are a lot of third party plugins available too.
There are basic ones that offer a more robust and configurable way of notifying you of messages, etc and some more fun ones like “psychic mode” - which listens for when a new contact starts typing a message to you and pops up a convo window before they have even sent it.

The one thing that I missed from other IM clients was meta-contacts.
For example, at any one time I have Pidgin signed into my Google chat, MSN and Facebook chat accounts and for those friends of mine that have an account on all three platforms, they appear 3 times in my buddy list.
With meta-contacts you can collapse those 3 contacts into just one.

Well, it turns out this feature has been in Pidgin for quite a while, I just never noticed as its just not quite as obvious as with other clients.

How to use meta-contacts in Pidgin:
To use this feature, all you have to do is right-mouse click on the contact and click “expand” and drag and drop other contacts under the newly expanded name.
You should put the most common account at the top as that is the account is used by default when you double click the contact.

Even though these features aren’t exactly ground breaking, when you get used to having them there it becomes a little harder to go back to clients without them.

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