Integrating Skype into Pidgin

After a long time obsessing over Google Talk, I am now slowly turning my attention to Pidgin. I was inspired to take a closer look at Pidgin after an excellent tutorial on Lifehacker and so now I am experimenting with my Google Talk contacts on the Pidgin platform to see how it goes.

But I was disheartened to see that out of all the IM networks that Pidgin supports, the one it didn’t support by default was Skype. So in the interests of trying to be more organized in my life, I went hunting to see if there was any kind of a plug-in based on the Skype API which allowed Pidgin to support Skype contacts.

And there is! The Skype API Plugin allows you to add your Skype contacts to your Pidgin application. But there are some drawbacks :

  • You can’t make phone calls through Pidgin. So this would only be suitable for Skype accounts which you use for instant messaging only.
  • For the moment, you need to also have the official Skype application on (which kind of defeats the purpose of integrating it into Pidgin in the first place). But the developer promises to fix this in future releases.
  • The plug-in imports EVERYTHING from your Skype list, including regular phone number contacts. This one actually forced me to uninstall the plug-in in the end as I have about 150 regular phone number contacts in my Skype app which were then imported into Pidgin. So this plug-in would be best for people who don’t use Skype for regular phone calls.

But if you only use Skype for instant messaging and you want to merge your contacts with your Pidgin contacts, then this is an excellent plug-in to install (it even shows the Skype contact’s icon). There’s even a Linux version.

Granted, it’s a pain in the rear to also need to have the Skype app open but I am hoping that in the future, new releases will take care of these minor irritants. In the meantime, you can hide the Skype app icon from the Windows system tray and pretend it’s not there.

If you’re a Skype and Pidgin fan, this is one plug-in to keep an eye on.

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