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Three Best IRC Clients for Mac I am aware of

Well, most of you have probably used IRC one way or another, either to contact developers of the software you use, or to provide a support for the software you develop. At CUBRID we use #cubrid channel at Freenode for real-time communications with anybody interested. Anyhow, you one day you may want to use IRC for communication with other developers, and you want to get your hands on a usable free IRC Client for Mac. Below you can find a list of IRC Clients you can use on OS X.



Colloquy was the first program I used as a free IRC client for Mac. It provide the following nice features:

  • Connect to multiple servers and join multiple rooms.
  • Supports authorization through SSL.
  • Auto join rooms at startup.
  • Communicate directly with a user. Simply type or double click on the username and you are in a separate private chat room with that user.
  • Add to Buddy List. Very convenient.
  • Send files to other users. They will be displayed inline in the same chat room.
  • Uses Growl notification system which used to cool before Mountain Lion. I hope soon they will add support for the native Notification Center.
  • Supports Full-screen mode introduced.
  • There are tons of different plugins, emotions, and themes that you can use with Colloquy.
  • Requires OS X Lion+.
  • Provides an iPhone app of the same name, though not available in some countries.

There are a few things which would be good to have in Colloquy:

  • So far there is no autocompletion for usernames in a chat room which is very inconvenient.
  • Logs are saved to the disk, which is good, but seems to be no way to view the logs within the app. Need to manually open the text file to view past conversations.
  • There are some flows in the UI.
    • Sometimes border shadows disappear, then the chat window blends in with other windows and it becomes difficult to quickly find which one is Colloquy.
    • The messages in the console window are washed away one in a while after scrolling up or down. Have reported this issue to the developers.
    • The UI doesn't feel native to Mac. If only it was developed in native Cocoa style, Colloquy would be outstanding.
  • Whenever I want to quit the program, Colloquy asks whether I really want to do that. Would be great to have that option.
  • There are really a lot of issues which have not been resolved yet. Perhaps, once resolved Colloquy will be a really nifty app.



Created and maintained by a Japanese developer LimeChat is my favorite IRC Client for Mac. Here are its features:

  • Console like interface with a set of keyboard shortcuts.
  • Several themes to choose from. Also can change into 3-column view.
  • Connects to multiple servers and joins multiple rooms.
  • Supports authorization through SSL.
  • Auto joins rooms at startup.
  • Allows to send files.
  • Native support for the Notification Center. Feels just right!
  • Requires OS X Snow Leopard+.
  • Available for iPhone and iPad.
  • Developed on Github.

There is one thing, though, which would be good to have in LimeChat:

  • As in Colloquy, logs are saved to the disk but there seems to be no way to view the logs within the app.

Other than that, LimeChat is a really great and free open source IRC client.



Linkinus is another IRC Client but this time it is a commercial software. You can buy it from App Store for $9.99. It provides tons of features. I will list only some of them:

  • Polished UI with various themes.
  • Connects to multiple servers and joins multiple rooms.
  • Supports authorization through SSL.
  • Auto saves rooms when application quits and auto joins them at next startup.
  • Multiple Identifies.
  • Uses Growl notification system.
  • Group channels together and switch between them with a custom keyboard shortcut.
  • Various app wide shortcuts for common commands.
  • Allows to send files.
  • Allows to "ignore" selected users through filters. Cool!
  • Allows to view past conversations through its Log Viewer.
  • Buddy List support.

What it does not have or what I do not like much are:

  • Lack of integration to Notification Center.
  • Opens unnecessary tabs for server connections or channel notifications. Maybe some users like it, but I do not like when a window is cluttered. It would be good to display them in Growl just like Colloquy does.
  • If only it was free!

I am sure there are some other great IRC clients that I am not aware of. If you know some decent ones, preferable open source, please share in the comments below. I will be glad to try them out.

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