Instant messaging apps and text for mobile devices allow users to stay connected and reach each other in seconds. But what if Mac or Windows users want the same experience on their PCs?
There are a variety of chat clients available for download on your PC. We're here to help you decide which is best for you, whether you need team collaboration, connect with other players, or appreciate the ability to make voice and video calls.
The best chat clients for macOS and Windows
The best chat client overall: Slack
For teams, Slack is king – at least for now – and for good reason: The software is chic, feature-rich, and for the most part ubiquitous. These days, you can't throw a stone with Slack without hitting a company. It's everywhere, not because it's the standard team chat application for many businesses and organizations, but because it's simply the best on the planet.
Why? The user interface is clean, stylish, and straightforward. You have channels on the left and direct messages right below it. They also have Slackbot, which is essentially the chat-based cousin of Siri and Alexa. You can set and even customize Slackbot reminders to respond to specific commands.
With dozens of integrations – including supporting a variety of other productivity suites – Slack works well with almost any service available, and companies can further customize it to meet their needs.
Plus, it's free. There are also no ads or limits on the number of users you can have. There are paid plans, however, that offer a more robust experience and additional storage, but most people can get by with the free version.
Need another reason why Slack is the best team chat app out there today? It runs under Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux in different versions – even directly in your web browser – without any major differences between the platforms.
The best casual chat app: Discord
If Slack is the best choice for the workplace, Discord is the best solution for gamers. Discord offers a range of features that Slack users or anyone who has been a member of a guild in World of Warcraft should be familiar with.
Discord is less formal than other chat apps, which is refreshing given that the current market is very business oriented. But that doesn't mean it isn't powerful. With robust chat support and a built-in streamer mode, this is a finely crafted application that dwarfs apps like Skype. Unlike other popular chat apps, all you need to do is create a username from which you can join multiple different servers at the same time. There is no need to create a separate work and personal login – it is used across the platform.
Once you've created or joined a server, you can set up individual channels for specific topics and even join each channel like a straightforward conference call. It's reliable, attractive, and well designed. Best of all, it just works.
Discord also lets you turn your microphone off when you're not in the mood to speak, or just jump straight into a real chat room-style conversation with the push of a button. It's simple, easy, and reliable.
Discord offers apps on all major platforms including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and even Linux.
The best encrypted app: Signal
Data protection has become a big problem for many people. With more people distrusting social media than ever before, relying on apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger (both owned by Facebook) is less than ideal. This is where an app like Signal becomes incredibly engaging.
Signal is an open source secured messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption for every single conversation. The only data that is collected is your phone number, which is required for obvious reasons. However, there are no email signups, no subscriptions, and no data tracking. The signal is also great for phone calls and even video conferencing.
If privacy is your primary concern, it doesn't get any better than Signal.
The best professional chat app: Microsoft Teams
Skype has become a problem for many in the professional world, but luckily, Microsoft has a far more competent option that will serve most teams very well. Microsoft Teams has evolved into a full-fledged team chat and productivity app.
As with most chat clients, users can communicate individually or in different groups (called teams if you can believe it). Teams also lets you share tasks, create wikis for different teams, and even make video and audio calls. It's the ultimate all-in-one solution for businesses and work teams.
If you're looking for a comprehensive solution that will allow your team to switch from Skype, Teams is one of the best options available.
The best all-in-one app: Franz
When you're tired of switching between multiple messaging apps, Franz can help. It's a messaging app that syncs with other services like Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Discord. There is a free account option that allows you to access up to three services at the same time. However, the paid plan is $ 2.99 per month if you need more.
With Franz you can do several tasks at the same time, which is a real time saver when working online. You can duplicate chat platform pages so you can see all of your virtual meetings at the same time and pay attention to all of your employees. Franz offers some nifty notification options to help you receive important messages while creating a distraction-free work environment. You can also highlight the most important parts of messages and turn them into tasks so that you are always one step ahead of upcoming projects.
If you're a multitasker who always switches between communication apps, Franz can save you time and make sure nothing is lost while mixing. It is compatible with Windows, Linux or MacOS.