Computers

Alternatives to Facebook Messenger for desktop

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Facebook Messenger for desktop has been discontinued, but users can still connect to Facebook Chat via third-party apps
Facebook Messenger for desktop has been discontinued, but users can still connect to Facebook Chat via third-party apps
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Facebook Messenger for desktop has been discontinued, but users can still connect to Facebook Chat via third-party apps
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Facebook Messenger for desktop has been discontinued, but users can still connect to Facebook Chat via third-party apps
Skype provides instant messaging, video chat and news feed functionality for users
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Skype provides instant messaging, video chat and news feed functionality for users
Digsby is customizable
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Digsby is customizable
Digsby offers social notifications and functionality as well as instant messaging
4/8
Digsby offers social notifications and functionality as well as instant messaging
Pidgin is a simple, stripped back instant messaging client
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Pidgin is a simple, stripped back instant messaging client
Trillian has a clean, easy-to-use interface
6/8
Trillian has a clean, easy-to-use interface
Pidgin is a simple, stripped back instant messaging client
7/8
Pidgin is a simple, stripped back instant messaging client
Trillian has a clean, easy-to-use interface
8/8
Trillian has a clean, easy-to-use interface

Facebook has discontinued support for its Messenger for Windows Desktop client for Facebook Chat. The move follows an abrupt announcement last week and will mean that Facebook no longer offers a desktop instant messaging client of its own. Users can, however, still use third-party applications to connect to Facebook chat from their desktops. Gizmag takes a look at a selection of instant messaging options that can be used to connect to Facebook Chat from the desktop, some of which are recommended by Facebook itself.

Access to Facebook Chat from the desktop can be useful for people who want to be contactable via Facebook Chat, but don't want to have to keep Facebook open in a browser tab. Instant messaging clients can provide this functionality by running in the background and being "always on," but remaining unobtrusive.

Skype

Skype provides instant messaging, video chat and news feed functionality for users
Skype provides instant messaging, video chat and news feed functionality for users

Skype is undoubtedly the most well known instant messaging client of the alternatives to Facebook Messenger listed here, and many people will already be using it for its own VOIP telephony, video call and IM functionality. Users simply need to connect their Facebook account to Skype from within the client and their Facebook contacts will appear, ready to chat to like a normal Skype contact.

Skype also allows users to view their news feeds in its home screen, make comments and update their statuses. Those who use Skype for business, however, may want to keep their Facebook dealings separate, so another IM client may be preferable.

Skype (Windows / Mac / Linux)

Digsby

Digsby is customizable
Digsby is customizable

Digsby is another service that provides more than just instant messaging functionality. Users are required to download the client and sign up for a Digsby account, but the set up process is quite quick. In addition to Facebook, users can add a range of accounts, including Windows Live, Yahoo, AOL and MySpace, which gives it rather of an outdated feel. Thankfully, Google Twitter and Linkedin accounts can also be added.

The client itself is has a clean and well designed interface, although it does show advertising in its chat windows. Users can pull up a window showing their Facebook news feed and unobtrusive notifications pop up each time a new update is made by a Facebook friend. All of this can, of course, be tweaked in the preferences menu to meet the user's needs.

Digsby (Windows / Mac / Linux)

Pidgin

Pidgin is a simple, stripped back instant messaging client
Pidgin is a simple, stripped back instant messaging client

For users who aren't so keen on the bells and whistles that Skype and Digsby offer, Pidgin may be just the ticket. It's a stripped back client that just provides users with simple instant messaging features. Users don't have to create an account with Pidgin, they just have to download the application and add their Facebook account details.

It has to be said that this may be easier said than done, especially for non-tech types. The process for adding an account isn't especially intuitive and Pidgin doesn't go to lengths to explain the process. Facebook does provide some clearer instructions at its Chat info page, however, which should help get you up and running.

Pidgin (Windows / Mac / Linux)

Trillian

Trillian has a clean, easy-to-use interface
Trillian has a clean, easy-to-use interface

Trillian's design feels a little like the best parts of the old MSN Messenger. It's clean, clear and simple to use. This is a pleasant surprise, because, although the set up process isn't complicated, it doesn't show any of this slick design. The service is also ad-supported, although I didn't' see any while I was playing around with it.

Users are required to sign up for a Trillian account before adding each of the social accounts they want to monitor access via the client. Notifications are comprehensive, but can be set to meet the user's needs from within the preferences menu.

Trillian (Windows / Mac / Linux)

Let us know via the comments if you have any Facebook Messenger for Windows Desktop alternatives.

10 comments
Wally3178
What about those of us who will not tolerate Facebook, Twitter, Linkdin et al? While you're at it, how about reviewing the available software for removing all links and references to Facebook, Linkdin and Twitter from all websites visited? Now that would be useful.
Darren H
I find Trillian to be fantastic, it can manage live chat multiples accounts of each service from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Skype, Live and more plus it integrates with Twitter accounts nicely too!
warren52nz
Just beware that if you use Skype for messaging your message history will appear on all devices using that account whether or not you select "No History" in the privacy options. It's a problem they're aware of and have been working on for over a year with no result yet.
Alex Hewson
do any of these (as far as i can tell skype doesnt) support group chats from fb messenger?
Stella Enfield
Thanks Alex, I also am sorely missing the group chats! It seems all these alternative clients are connecting through the jabber connection which doesn't seem to support multi chat (not for Facebook at least). I am hoping Facebook will be launching an alternative soon.
Slavik Shen
I have a present for the Mac user. Astro Messenger https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/astro-for-facebook-messenger/id726828968?mt=12 It beats the other app with complement Facebook support. Group Chat Facebook Sticker Shop Privacy Control, turning chat off to nosy friends Messenger folder: inbox, spam, archived, other Screen shot tool Drag and drop attachments You can find almost every correlative features on the Facebook web page in the Astro.
Lucas Terzi
A Good alternative is Instanbird powered by Mozilla. Simple, practical! http://instantbird.com/
ThunderBoyDavid
i have been using Digsby for a long time. i think it's the Best. BUT.. a week ago it quit connecting to Facebook. So i tried Pidgin. It wouldn't connect to Facebook either. So i gave up. i uninstalled them both and decided to do without. Change is a coming i guess. No more Facebook chatting.!!
AndrewMartin
Facebook has made changes and Pidgin doesnt work any more. They have quit using XMPP which Pidgin uses for connection to FB chat.
Mike bean
Thanks for the article, but some of these "alternatives" are not much better than Facebook, especially in terms of privacy and security. I'm using Utopia beta messenger now and find it much advanced than all the mentioned above IM. First and foremost, it presents a decentralized peer-to-peer network, which does not presuppose any third parties involved. That's a thing for business communication