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The Best IRC clients for Windows and Linux

The Best IRC clients for Windows and Linux

Despite the rise and rise of WhatsApp, Kik and other chat apps, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is still going strong. The protocol is decades old and text only yet it still has a place in our consciousness and on our desktops. So what are the best IRC clients for Windows and Linux?

To use IRC chat, you need an IRC client. These are simple terminal-style windows that allow you to select IRC chat channels and type in chats. The large central window will show the thread as it develops as well as the usernames of others within the same chatroom. It is a very basic interface but doesn’t have to be anything more.

IRC clients for Windows and Linux

Windows 10 has quite a number of compatible IRC clients. Linux does too. As usual, some are better than others. Here are a few IRC clients for Windows and Linux that are worth your time.

mIRC

mIRC is one of the oldest and most established IRC clients on the internet. It works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP and has a nice load of features. It is a small install that takes mere seconds to download and install. Once opened, you will see a quick ad and then will need to enter a nick and email address along with your chat server details.

Once done, you’re in and ready to chat. mIRC also comes with some chat servers already installed if you just want to browse. As well as chat, mIRC also allows file transfers, notifications, scripts and more. For such an old and small program it is capable of a lot. If you want to support mIRC, you can remove the ad for a one-off fee of $20.

mIRC only works with Windows.

AdiIRC

AdiIRC is another neat IRC client that works fine in Windows 10. It isn’t as fully featured as mIRC and doesn’t look quite as good but it works well. It can also start with Windows if you’re a regular user. This is another tiny download and installer. It is ad supported or you can support it with a donation.

The interface is very simple and easy to use. You can browse or search channels or add your own server. You can open multiple channels too, either in windows or within the same window. There is a neat spellcheck feature too although nobody I have seen on IRC ever bothers with one of those!

AdiIRC works on both Windows and Linux.

HexChat

I have never used HexChat but it was recommended by a coder friend of mine who uses it all the time. It is super simple with a very clear UI. Channels can be sorted into tabs and users and lists can be hidden or moved around as to your preference. There are lots of themes and tweaks you can make to it when you’re up and running too.

Again, the interface is super-simple and you will be up and running in less than a minute. There are multiple language options, script support, auto-connect for regular chatters and lots of other neat features. Unlike mIRC, HexChat is free to use as long as you want but donations are always welcomed.

HexChat works on both Windows and Linux.

XChat

HexChat is built on XChat so it is only right that we also feature the original. It is a very simple IRC client for Windows and Linux that looks and feels a lot like the others in the list. It is a small download and light on computer resources yet has all the chat features you might need. Simple organization, ordered channels, configurable UI, themes, languages and more.

XChat has advanced script support if that’s your thing. It works with Perl, Python, Tcl, Ruby, C++ and ECMAScript Scheme. XChat costs $20 after a free 30-day trial so you would really need to like it over HexChat to use it.

XChat works on both Windows and Linux.

IceChat

IceChat ‘The Chat cool people use’. If the cheesiness doesn’t put you off, the IRC client is pretty good. It has most of the functions you would expect, chat, channel tabs, theming, customizations and scripting support. It doesn’t look quite as 8-bit as some of these others but isn’t exactly the latest in flat design either. Nevertheless, function triumphs over form.

IceChat is easy to use and supports plugins that can add everything from Twitter feeds to Google search and a range of other functions. So while the core chat is very capable, there is also scope to widen appeal with other things. It is free too, with no ads or limitations.

IceChat only works with Windows.

WeeChat

WeeChat is either small if you are Scottish or likened to urination if you are English. If you’re American, WeeChat is a solid little IRC chat client for Linux and Mac. It works with Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Unix, GNU Hard and Mac OS X so will have wide appeal. It also supports scripting, multiple languages, IPv6 and lots of other features.

WeeChat is another chat client that begins simple and then can become something much more by using plugins. There are a good number of them and most have decent documentation to back them up.

WeeChat works on both Linux and Mac OS.

HydraIRC

HydraIRC is another IRC client that has been recommended by someone I know. It is a multi-platform IRC client that works in Windows and Linux and supports plugins and other features. As far as I can tell, HydraIRC is no longer developed but the existing source code is available online.

HydraIRC seems simple enough with tabs for channels, lots of configuration options, customizations and theming. Despite not being developed any longer, it seems to work fine.

HydraIRC only works with Windows.

There are seven IRC clients for Windows and Linux in this list and they all seem to fulfill the core requirements. Be small, easy to use, customizable and straightforward to live with. If you want to get into IRC or have to join one for work or play, at least now you have a few options for clients that work.

Got any suggestions for IRC clients for Windows and Linux? Tell us about them below if you do!

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Jul 24, 2017

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