Five Free Apps to Access Facebook Chat

Whilst you can of course access Facebook chat using the webs favorite social networking site Facebook.com directly, it’s not your only option. There are many reasons as to why you could be interested in using a third-party web tool to access Facebook chat. For example: you may be interested in a richer messaging experience, prefer something IM focused or need to be able to connect to other chat networks at the same time within the same browser window.

This article will discuss and offer 5 options.

1. Chit Chat for Facebook (Web)

This web-based Facebook messaging tool is developed by Athena IT Limited, the firm behind the Facebook chat app for PC Chit Chat for Facebook. You’ll find their web-based solution at its core to be a more inspired and advanced version of their desktop offering. Chit Chat for Facebook (web), as a web Facebook chat app unlike the software version, doesn’t require installation on your computer.

It is designed with a tabbed instant message window with different colored speech bubbles for each conversation participant. Its use of status icons (green =online, red = offline, orange = away) makes it easy to understand at a glance, which of your friends are online. At the top of the instant messenger, you are able to filter through your friend list by typing in their name.

The advantages of using Chit Chat for Facebook (Web) over Facebook.com:

  • Ability to search through your Facebook friend list before engaging in conversation
  • Well-designed interface
  • Use of easy to read speech bubbles in conversation window
  • Ability to insert emoticons and format text as bold/italic
  • Full screen instant messaging

2. Plus.IM

IM+ or, plus.im – depending on whether one is referring to product identity or the domain on which the solution is hosted is a popular multi-network connectivity tool.

For those who like minimalistic tools, this one is for you. Whilst I like the intuitiveness of the solution, it does feel lacking round the edges a bit – for example, the smiley icon codes do not match up to the Facebook ones and only one conversation can be open at a time in the conversation window.

Like Chit Chat, IM+ also offers a contact search tool. In my opinion, whilst Chit Chat (web) is clearly the better Facebook chat solution – for users who wish to use multiple networks at one time, IM+ is clearly superior.

Advantages of using IM+ over Facebook.com:

  • Ability to search through your Facebook friend list before engaging in conversation
  • Allows you to connect to several chat networks at once – including AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo, ICQ and of course Facebook.

3. Meebo

Like IM+, Meebo is a tool designed for connecting to multiple networks at once. However, the list of networks that you can connect to, are less in number, as compared to IM+. 

Meebo seems to have focused on the most popular networks – so networks such as Facebook, MySpace, AIM, MSN, ICQ, etc, are all included in its supported list. In comparison to IM+ the technological production of Meebo feels more “solid” and less static – the look and feel of the product is somewhat similar to that of a desktop instant messenger.

Each conversation is launched in a separate pop over or pop-up window, which I didn’t like as I tend to prefer a tabbed solution for ease of use and to minimize clicks. Like IM+, Meebo supports emoticons and text formatting that is unsupported on Facebook.com.

Advantages of Meebo over Facebook.com

  • Ability to search through your Facebook friend list before engaging in conversation
  • Allows you to connect to several chat networks at once – including AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo, ICQ and of course Facebook.
  • Trendy interface
  • Makes it possible for you to customize the desktop background of your instant messaging experience

4. ILoveIM

ILove.IM supports Facebook, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and Google Talk chat networks. But it does look like that the instant messaging experience really has been built primarily around Windows Messenger.

Within this instant messenger, you’ll find Microsoft’s MSN emoticons, and support for functionality that only Windows Live Messenger supports – such as the customization of text size, font, color, style and nudging.

The integration of Facebook chat is convincing and stable.

You may notice that the web-based messaging service does not display your Facebook buddy images. The ILove.IM platform feels very similar to the Meebo design, in that the conversations are not tabbed.

Advantages of ILove.IM over Facebook.com

  • Allows you to connect to several chat networks at once – including AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo, ICQ and of course Facebook
  • Trendy interface

5. LiveGo

LiveGo seems to go the extra mile in terms of Facebook integration. It supports the display of your messages, feeds, friend list, album and ofcourse chat. It’s a nice solution, if you don’t mind the ads.

It supports inserting emoticons, but the icons are ASCII rather than graphics which is disappointing. You’ll notice that it shows the buddy image for the individual you are talking too.

For me, LiveGo feels more like a workaround to access Facebook from office or school where Facebook is blocked rather than a solution in itself. LiveGo is trying to be an all encompassing social communicator – and it succeeds in doing that. However, with the lack of focus it doesn’t really add anything you can’t find anywhere else.

Advantages of LiveGo over Facebook.com

  • Connect to other social networks – MSN, Twitter, Gmail, AOL etc
  • Will likely bypass restrictions that your work or school filter has on Facebook.com feeds
  • Tidy interface

Let us know which one is your favorite and why!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.