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Peter blogged awhile back on the Windows Live Messenger no-ad alternative Pidgin (no, I am NOT interested in singles available in Surrey). I've been using it ever since and really like it; and I LOVE no ads and the large number of plugins you can, ahem, plug in, to get greater functionality.

One of those plugins is the Guifications plugin that displays "toaster" popups in a user-defined corner of the screen - the lack of which was the one show stopper in my books. Here's how to get toasting with the Pidgin in Vista (and XP for that matter):

  1. Go to and download Guifications (I'm running 2.16 - there's v.3 in the works).
  2. Install.
  3. Go to your install's Tools -> Plugins.
  4. Enable Guifications (while enabling a bunch of the other plugins you might like such as History, Offline Message Emulation, Text replacement, Windows Pidgin Options etc.
  5. The default popups are ugly:
    so go to and see what else is out there. Many are...ummm...lacking aesthetically... but two I found that are alright are the "Thin horizontal Aero-like theme" and a "Solid Vista Glass 3 Colors" one:
  6. Download one or a couple of 'em. If you find some others that are okay, let me know in the comments.
  7. Now locate your Pidgin guifications theme directory. Mine is located at C:\Users\tjardine\AppData\Roaming\.purple\guifications\themes.
  8. Copy your downloaded files into this directory (unzipped, but contained in the parent folder):
  9. Go back to Tools -> Plugins, select Guifications, and "Configure Plugin". Go to the the themes tab and select one of your new themes. And while you're there, go to the Notifications tab and uncheck some of the non-essential notification events before you're driven batty by the constant reminders of everybody going idle, coming back, going away, etc.

You can also change the entire theme of Pidgin, but I didn't find any that worked well or actually looked decent in Vista apart from the default one. If you're interested, there's some brief instructions on Lifehacker for this.

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