I'm looking for a (free) program that allows me to chat to other computers on my network (over LAN).

Desired features:

  • Internet connection not required
  • Available for Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard)
  • Hopefully good looking UI, preferably with multiple/customizable themes, but not necessary
  • Preferably File transfer
  • Text chat (of course), and maybe voice chat too (but not required)
  • It should be able to be run on multiple user accounts on the same computer at the same time (ie.: no port conflicts - like in Qualia LAN Messenger - but if anybody knows how to bypass this, please tell me)
  • @nidunc Unfortunately, none of these are free while still supporting Mac and Windows, but thanks anyway May 4, 2014 at 16:59
  • Would you consider setting up your own IRC server ? Also BigAnt is free for up to 10 users and supports both Windows and Mac.
    – Lawrence
    May 8, 2014 at 6:41
  • @Lawrence Sorry for my basic understanding of networking, but an IRC server would require me to keep a computer on at all times right? If it does, could this computer my Mac - which is generally 'sleeping?' Do you know of any guides / websites to tell me how to set up / what is and IRC server? Thanks. May 8, 2014 at 19:02
  • @Lawrence. Just saw Big Ant's website, is BigAnt server-dependent? May 8, 2014 at 19:04

3 Answers 3


As described in my answers to the questions Software to send files through my private network and Simple serverless messenger for Linux, you could use any XMPP client that supports Zeroconf (Apple’s implementation is called Bonjour).

  • No need for all participants to use the same client.
  • No XMPP server (whether online or offline) required.
  • Clients find each other automatically.
  • Text/voice/video chat and file transfers possible (all these are client features, so it depends on the clients involved).

List of XMPP clients: http://xmpp.org/xmpp-software/clients/

Jitsi would be an example for a cross-platform client; however, it seems that the Zeroconf feature was removed and they intend to reimplement it in a better way; I’m not sure if this is done yet. You could, however, use SIP with Jitsi. Here's how to set it up. As far as I know, the only difference between SIP and XMPP with Pidgin (details below) is that with SIP, you need to know the internal IP address of any computers you want to chat with. This shouldn't be too much of a problem because you can use an IP scanner tool, like Advanced IP Scanner for free.

Pidgin is another one (note that they recommend to use Adium on Mac OS).
When going with Pidgin (+ Adium):

Features that Pidgin + Bonjour give that you asked for:

  • Free
  • Mac + Windows
  • No port conflicts
  • File transfer
  • Not bad-looking
  • Some questions: 1. As Jitsi is cross-platform, all I need to do is install it on my Windows and Mac and then they will be able to see each other? 2. Or do I need to make an account at Jabber.org and then log in to each computer and each user account to that account? 3. If I do, doesn't that mean I need an internet connection to chat? Again, sorry for my basic networking knowledge. Thanks May 10, 2014 at 11:45
  • @shub: I don’t use Jitsi personally, so I can’t tell how exactly it works for this client, but usually, for example in Gajim, there is an account named "Local" that can be enabled. As soon as you do that, it shows all other clients that have such a Local account enabled and are currently connected to your LAN. -- So no, you don’t have to register an account with any provider.
    – unor
    May 10, 2014 at 12:27
  • Have you ever tried any programs that are compatible with Windows and OS X and have a similar 'local' feeature? I would really rather have 1 program on all my computers, but I understand this may be hard and I will try to make do with your solution. My guess is that with Jitsi, I would make a 'local' account and then chat to other computer via User@IPADDRESS looking at the screenshots, do you think so too? May 10, 2014 at 12:29
  • @shub: I just looked for a tutorial for Jitsi and found this page which says that the feature was removed. Now I’m not sure if it was re-implemented in the meantime; it’s still listed in the feature list in Wikipedia.
    – unor
    May 10, 2014 at 12:33
  • Never mind. Just saw this: jitsi.org/Documentation/RegistrarlessSIPAccount which is exactly what I want. I will try it and get back to you soon May 10, 2014 at 12:33

Softros LAN messenger supports both the Windows and Mac OS X platforms.


  • An Internet connection is not required.
  • A dedicated server or server-client is not required.
  • It supports Terminal Services (great for large networks).
  • All messages are encrypted by secure algorithm.
  • It sends messages and files. No port conflicts.


  • Application is not free. It has 30-days trial without functional limitations.
  • Voice chat is not supported.

LAN messenger for Mac OS


For ~ $20.00 USD you could install OS X Server which has a built in XMPP server. Then you could use any XMPP client, like OS X Chat.app, or any of the chat clients listed here.

If you don't like the $20 option, you could look here for a free xmpp server.

Another option would be to purchase/repurpose a Raspberry Pi. Install a simple XMPP server on it. That way you don't have to keep an expensive laptop/desktop running all the time.

  • 3
    I'm not really open to buying anything and a little more detail on XMPP servers would have been nice, as @unor did. Thanks anyway May 10, 2014 at 15:59

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