How To: Make a meebo Chat Client

This method has since become obsolete thanks to the meebo Notifier (which is awesome by the way, and you can get it HERE)… But if you are still interested in the method, here is the original post:

As you can tell on the site, I love the meebo chat system. It is as versatile as it is clean and easy to use. I am able to log in and check my IMs from all the major chat programs, from almost anywhere with a network connection. The only thing that I don’t like about meebo is that they do not provide a desktop client to use to connect to their services. It becomes rather daunting to keep a web browser open constantly for me to stay connected to the service, but I have not found any desktop chat client that provides for multiple IM connections that I enjoy. I would like to stick with meebo.

So what is one to do?

What else in a situation like this? Turn to open source software!

Ahh yes, and what better open source software do have than the joyous Mozilla Firefox. Those ingenious little busy bodies over at meebo have created an add-on for Firefox that allows quick and easy access to your meebo account with the click of a button. Unfortunately, this still does not solve the problem of an actual desktop client, but we are one step closer and it gave me an idea.

Before I get started here, I want to explain the purpose of this tutorial: to create an open instance of meebo that remains out of the way of normal work, yet is still able to give alerts on things like new messages or buddy status changes and that gives quick access to send or view messages.

With that being said, let’s begin.

First thing we need to do is make sure you have a meebo account. Naturally, this is done by heading over to the meebo website and signing up.

Next, we will need the latest Firefox browser, which is of course, at the Firefox website.

Once we have all that in order, next we want to install the meebo Firefox add-on. This little add-on is awesome because it creates a button next to your URL bar that can be used at anytime, in any instance of the Firefox browser, to view your buddy list, and with just a quick click, it can bring up your open meebo service no matter which instance of Firefox you have it open in. Essentially, if you have two different Firefox windows open, and one of them has meebo open and logged in, then you can press the meebo button in the other browser, bring up the buddy list, and select which buddy you want to send to. The other Firefox window (the one with meebo open) will automatically come up, with an open chat window for you to speak with that buddy.

Another cool feature of the meebo add-on, is that it gives a little alert in the corner of your screen when someone sends you a message and you do not have meebo as the active window. So it acts just like a regular IM chat client would.

After we have the the meebo add-on, we now want to get the MinimizeToTray add-on for Firefox. This is a neat little add-on for Firefox that will let you minimize it down to your system tray. This way it will not take up space at the bottom of your screen like an open window.
NOTE: At the time I am writing this, there is not a version of MinimizeToTray that works with Firefox 3. If that is still the case, there is away around this that I will discuss below.

Once we have the MinimizeToTray add-on, you may also want to consider the Minimize To Tray Enhancer add-on for Firefox. This second add-on will let you add a little button in the lower right hand status bar of Firefox that lets you minimize Firefox to your system tray without having to use the “Minimize to tray on close” or “Always minimize to system tray” options in the MinimizeToTray add-on. Instead you can leave those two options unchecked, and go to the Minimize To Tray Enhancer options and make sure “Hide status icon” is NOT selected. This will place a little blue arrow icon in the lower right of your Firefox window that you can click to minimize the browser to the system tray. This add-on is completely optional, I just like still having my regular minimize and close functions available to me in Firefox.

Once we have all of that installed, it is time to start up our “make shift” meebo chat client. All we need to do is start up Firefox, click the meebo add-on button next to the URL bar. Sign in, and then click which ever button you have set up to be your minimize to tray button (minimize button, X exit button, or the blue arrow button). We now have an instance of meebo that is running in our system tray and out of our way, and will give us important alerts. And remember, you can access your buddy list at any time, from any Firefox window, with the meebo chat add-on button!

Now then, what if there isn’t a compatible version of the MinimizeToTray add-on for Firefox 3? Then we will need to trick Firefox into letting an older version install.

WARNING: I do not suggest this for any other older add-ons as they may be unstable with Firefox 3. MinimizeToTray is the only older add-on I use in Firefox 3, and I have yet to have any problems.

Before we download the MinimizeToTray add-on, we will first need to get the Nightly Tester Tools add-on for Firefox. Once installed, open your add-on window in Firefox (Tools > Add-ons), and you will now have a button that says “Override all compatibility”. Hit that button, and you will now be able to load older versions of add-ons, thus letting us install the older version of MinimizeToTray.

And that is all there is to it. I find this setup very useful and I hope you will too.

Sign up for meebo
Download Mozilla Firefox 3
Download meebo Firefox add-on
Download MinimizeToTray Firefox add-on
Download Minimize To Tray Enhancer Firefox add-on
Download Nightly Tester Tools Firefox add-on

Thanks to some of our readers (Tiff), we do also have other multi-IM client options.
Many people love these other options (especially Trillian), but I just love my Firefox + Meebo.
But hey, check them out for yourself!

Other Multi-IM Clients:
Trillian
Meebo Desktop Beta

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