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Alternatives to Facebook Messenger for desktop


March 4, 2014

Facebook Messenger for desktop has been discontinued, but users can still connect to Faceb...

Facebook Messenger for desktop has been discontinued, but users can still connect to Facebook Chat via third-party apps

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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 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 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users can add a range of accounts, including Windows Live, Yahoo, AOL and MySpace, which gives it rather of an outdated feel.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 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 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.

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds.   All articles by Stu Robarts

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.

4th March, 2014 @ 05:59 pm PST

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!

Darren H
4th March, 2014 @ 07:23 pm PST

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.

5th March, 2014 @ 04:42 pm PST

do any of these (as far as i can tell skype doesnt) support group chats from fb messenger?

Alex Hewson
6th March, 2014 @ 07:26 am PST

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.

Stella Enfield
7th March, 2014 @ 01:26 am PST

I have a present for the Mac user.

Astro Messenger


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.

Slavik Shen
9th May, 2014 @ 08:11 pm PDT

A Good alternative is Instanbird powered by Mozilla.

Simple, practical!


Lucas Terzi
20th May, 2014 @ 09:07 pm PDT
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