You probably don’t hear much about IRC (Internet Relay Chat) these days because social media has stolen all the glory. However, it’s still alive and kicking with various IRC clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Android. 

Collaborative systems like Slack and Discord are the most popular modern options for chatting, but sometimes you just want access to plain text-based chat servers. That’s what IRC is all about. It lets you join several channels created based on various topics and interests. 

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    Anyone can create a server and have a #games channel dedicated to chatting about games. No one controls IRC, so everyone is free to host or change servers however they want. So how can you enter the Wild West of online communication? You’re going to need an IRC client, and we’re going to help you find the best one for your system.

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    IRC Clients for Windows

    Not all IRC clients are created equal. Some are compatible with Windows systems only, while more versatile ones work with macOS and Linux.

    1. mIRC

    Price: Free for 30 days, after which you need a user license that costs $20.

     Key features:

    • SSL encryption
    • Multi-server connections
    • Friend lists
    • Customizable vocal messages and sounds
    • Message logging
    • Notification system
    • System tray alerts
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    mIRC is one of the oldest and most popular IRC clients for Windows. It’s been going strong since 1995 by keeping up-to-date with great functionalities. It’s also user-friendly and easily connects to a server by just entering its information.

    You can use mIRC to chat and share files on any IRC network in the world. You can message someone in private or organize group conferences. mIRC comes with the following

    2. WeeChat

    Price: Free.

    Key features:

    • Multi-platform support
    • Translated in multiple languages
    • Supports multiple servers
    • Scripts manager
    • Customizable bars
    • Spell checking
    • Smart filter
    • Friend list
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    WeChat is a free, open-source IRC client that works on Windows as well as Linux and macOS. It’s highly versatile and has detailed documentation for every feature and functionality.

    WeeChat has plenty of premium features despite being a free app, including smart filtering options, a configurable interface, and multi-server support. Even more impressive is that it supports 8 scripting languages, including Python, C, Ruby, Lua, Javascript, and PHP, thanks to its scripts manager, which means there’s also an active community that creates scripts for WeeChat.

    3. Foo IRC

    Price: One-time payment of $1.99 in the Microsoft Store.

    Key features:

    • Supports multiple servers
    • Message history
    • Auto-reconnect to server
    • IRCCloud support
    • Scripting support
    • Ignore list
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    Foo IRC is a lightweight app that has a minimalist interface. It can run in the background without you noticing it. It has a simplistic design, it’s easy to use with color-coded text, and you can install various plugins that change the IRC client’s look.

    You can save the servers you frequent and your favorite channels so that you automatically reconnect to them when you start your computer.

    4. IceChat

    Price: Free.

    Key features:

    • Customizable GUI
    • Multi-server and channel support
    • Built-in client editor
    • Emoticons
    • Quick connect option
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    IceChat is one of the most stable IRC clients that fully supports Windows 10 64-bit. It’s customizable, easy to use, even for those unfamiliar with IRC clients. All you need to do is register a nickname, pick your IRC server, and you’re connected. IceChat also supports multiple servers, so you and your friends can enjoy numerous channels.

    You can pick a different GUI theme or use the IceChat Editor to make your changes. Unlike other IRC clients, IceChat comes with integrated emoticons to add some spice.

    5. Pidgin

    Price: Free.

    Key features:

    • Supports all major computer platforms
    • Multi-server support
    • Open-source development
    • Notification system
    • Supports chat services like MSN
    • Integrated emoticons
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    Pidgin is a free, open-source IRC client with multi-platform support. You can download it for Windows, macOS, and Linux as well.

    Pidgin looks more modern than other IRC clients and offers all the functionalities you’d want. You can transfer files, receive notifications, and use emoticons. Connect to as many chat channels as you’d like, including chat services like MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger.

    One of the best things about Pidgin is the active global community that contributes to fast bug fixes, feature updates, and plug-ins.

    IRC Clients for macOS

    Following is a list of Clients exclusively used for macOS.

    1. Textual

    Price: Free for 30 days, after which you need a user license that costs $7.99.

    Key features:

    • Address book
    • Auto-complete function for commands and names
    • Customizable styles
    • Notification system
    • Inline image embedding
    • Multiple-channel support
    • Supports iCloud
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    Textual is a premium IRC client developed for macOS. It has a dedicated development team and receives continuous support and updates. You can submit feature requests to the team.

    The first thing you’ll notice is the GUI that looks like any modern communication application and supports several keyboard shortcuts for smooth navigation.

    Textual supports all Mac versions. It’s easy to navigate, configure and customize. The client is well-documented, and you can use several programming languages to create your addons. You can save your configurations and plug-in scripts in the client’s dedicated installation folder.

    2. LimeChat

    Price: Free

    Key features:

    • SSL encryption
    • Chat message notifications and highlights
    • Pasted links become automatically clickable
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    If you want a free, lightweight IRC client for your Mac system, LimeChat is your pick. It’s secured with SSL encryption and allows you to connect to multiple servers simultaneously. 

    LimeChat is not as gorgeous as Textual, but the performance and functionality are there. It can send chat notifications on every channel you’re connected to; it supports keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation and can stay active in the background.

    3. XChat Aqua/Azure

    Price: Free

    Key features:

    • Supports basic scripting
    • Encrypted messaging system
    • Auto-complete functionality
    • Supports file transfers
    • Integrated spell-checker
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    XChat Aqua/Azure is a lightweight IRC client developed for Mac systems. It can auto-complete commands, nicknames, and it protects you from grammatical errors with an integrated spell-checking tool. Additionally, you can transfer files to other users.

    XChat is a free app that comes with at least one unique feature that other clients lack. It allows you to encrypt your message, and the receiver can decrypt it with the correct passcode. That’s pretty neat if you’re concerned about security.

    IRC Clients for Linux

    The Linux community is doing a great job at continuously developing IRC and making security and functionality improvements. Whether you prefer a graphical, console, or web IRC client, there’s something for everyone.

    Note: WeeChat, mentioned in the Windows section above,  is one of the best IRC clients for Linux and Windows. Make sure to try it out!

    1. Konversation

    Price: Free

    Key features:

    • On-screen notifications overlay
    • Command shortcuts
    • Automatic URL detection
    • Channel bookmarks
    • Supports DCC file transfer
    • Highly customizable with scripts
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    Konversation is the best choice for people who focus on improving productivity. Several features set this IRC client for Linux apart from others, including the On-Screen Display and Quick Buttons tools.

    The GUI looks plain, but you don’t have to keep the client window open to keep an eye out for private messages and chat mentions. The On-Screen Display feature generates an overlay message when someone types your nickname. You can simply configure the client, connect to a server, and then continue your business until someone messages you.

    The Quick Buttons feature can turn any command into a Quick Button shortcut. Say ‘goodbye’ to repetitive typing. Add a URL catcher and file transfer support to the mix, and you have a robust IRC client for Linux.

    2. Irssi

    Price: Free

    Key features:

    • Customizable with modules, scripts, and themes
    • Autologging
    • Custom keybindings
    • Detects pasted text
    • Multi-platform support
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    Irssi is a command-line IRC client for Linux and other Unix systems. It doesn’t have a GUI, so use Irssi only if you enjoy working with terminal commands. However, you can still customize the client’s looks with various themes.

    Irssi is easy to set up and customize. It’s an open-source IRC client, so there’s an active community developing and creating scripts that expand its functionality. You can download hundreds of scripts from the Irssi Script Repository to get features that aren’t available with the standard package.  

    By default, Irssi supports remote connection options, custom keybindings, logging, all the basic features you get with most IRC clients.

    3. ERC

    Price: Free

    Key features:

    • Multi-server and channel support
    • Auto-join channel feature
    • Converts URLs to clickable buttons
    • Highlighting
    • Timestamps
    • Notification system
    • Logs past actions 
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    ERC is an IRC client with the Emacs text editor, making it easy to modify and customize based on your requirements and style. If you’re into programming, you will appreciate the ability to create your functions and commands.

    By default, ERC comes with all the functions an IRC client should have. It supports multiple channels, one-on-one private messaging, keyword and nickname highlighting, and notifications. ERC is the best choice if you want a light IRC client for your Emacs or XEmacs editor.

    Bonus: IRC Client for Android

    IRC isn’t just for computer geeks. If you want to chat on the go, you can grab an IRC mobile client application for your Android smartphone or tablet.


    Price: Free

    Key features:

    • Saves your server connection without data access
    • Chat history synced to the cloud
    • File sharing
    • Notification system
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    IRCCloud is a basic IRC client for Android that lets you connect to your favorite IRC channels. IRCCloud stays online even when you have an unstable connection. The client will keep running, and it will automatically reconnect to the channel you were using. Don’t worry about losing your chat history either because it syncs to the cloud.

    Despite being an Android IRC client, IRCCloud works like most computer IRC clients. You can share and receive files, get notifications when someone mentions your nickname, and customize it with scripts.

    What’s your favorite IRC client? Let us know in the comments!