Pidgin is definitely our favorite universal chat client, but adding all of your chat accounts to multiple computers can be frustrating. Here’s how you can easily transfer your Pidgin settings to other computers and keep them in sync using Dropbox.
Make sure you have both Pidgin and Dropbox installed on any computers you want to sync. To sync Pidgin, you need to:
- Move your Pidgin profile folder on your first computer to Dropbox
- Create a symbolic link from the new folder in Dropbox to your old profile location
- Delete the default pidgin profile on your other computer, and create a symbolic link from your Dropbox Pidgin profile to the default Pidgin profile location
This sounds difficult, but it’s actually easy if you follow these steps. Here we already had all of our accounts setup in Pidgin in Windows 7, and then synced this profile with an Ubuntu and a XP computer with fresh Pidgin installs. Our instructions for each OS are based on this, but just swap the sync order if your main Pidgin install is in XP or Ubuntu.
Please Note: Please make sure Pidgin isn’t running on your computer while you are making the changes!
Sync Your Pidgin Profile from Windows 7
Here is Pidgin with our accounts already setup. Our Pidgin profile has a Gtalk, MSN Messenger, and Facebook Chat account, and lots of log files.
Let’s move this profile to Dropbox to keep it synced. Exit Pidgin, and then enter %appdata% in the address bar in Explorer or press Win+R and enter %appdata%. Select the .purple folder, which is your Pidgin profiles and settings folder, and press Ctrl+X to cut it.
Browse to your Dropbox folder, and press Ctrl+V to paste the .purple folder there.
Now we need to create the symbolic link. Enter “command” in your Start menu search, right-click on the Command Prompt shortcut, and select “Run as administrator”.
We can now use the mklink command to create a symbolic link to the .purple folder. In Command Prompt, enter the following and substitute username for your own username.
mklink /D “C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\.purple” “C:\Users\username\Documents\My Dropbox\.purple”
And that’s it! You can open Pidgin now to make sure it still works as before, with your files being synced with Dropbox.
Please Note: These instructions work the same for Windows Vista. Also, if you are syncing settings from another computer to Windows 7, then delete the .purple folder instead of cutting and pasting it, and reverse the order of the file paths when creating the symbolic link.
Add your Pidgin Profile to Ubuntu
Our Ubuntu computer had a clean install of Pidgin, so we didn’t need any of the information in its settings. If you’ve run Pidgin, even without creating an account, you will need to first remove its settings folder. Open your home folder, and click View, and then “Show Hidden Files” to see your settings folders.
Select the .purple folder, and delete it.
Now, to create the symbolic link, open Terminal and enter the following, substituting username for your username:
ln –s /home/username/Dropbox/.purple /home/username/
Open Pidgin, and you will see all of your accounts that were on your other computer. No usernames or passwords needed; everything is setup and ready to go. Even your status is synced; we had our status set to Away in Windows 7, and it automatically came up the same in Ubuntu.
Please Note: If your primary Pidgin account is in Ubuntu, then cut your .purple folder and paste it into your Dropbox folder instead. Then, when creating the symbolic link, reverse the order of the folder paths.
Add your Pidgin Profile to Windows XP
In XP we also had a clean install of Pidgin. If you’ve run Pidgin, even without creating an account, you will need to first remove its settings folder. Click Start, the Run, and enter %appdata%.
Delete your .purple folder.
XP does not include a way to create a symbolic link, so we will use the free Junction tool from Sysinternals. Download Junction (link below) and unzip the folder.
Open Command Prompt (click Start, select All Programs, then Accessories, and select Command Prompt), and enter cd followed by the path of the folder where you saved Junction.
Now, to create the symbolic link, enter the following in Command Prompt, substituting username with your username.
junction “C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\.purple” “C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Dropbox\.purple”
Open Pidgin, and you will see all of your settings just as they were on your other computer. Everything’s ready to go.
Please Note: If your primary Pidgin account is in Windows XP, then cut your .purple folder and paste it into your Dropbox folder instead. Then, when creating the symbolic link, reverse the order of the folder paths.
This is a great way to keep all of your chat and IM accounts available from all of your computers. You can easily access logs from chats you had on your desktop from your laptop, or if you add a chat account on your work computer you can use it seamlessly from your home computer that evening. Now Pidgin is the universal chat client that is always ready whenever and wherever you need it!