How to use Empathy Messenger

Empathy is an instant messaging application for the GNOME Desktop. It supports text, voice & video chat, and file transfers and most used messaging systems such as MSN and Google Talk.

Empathy includes features that help you collaborate better while at work, which easily keep you in touch with friends.

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala comes with Empathy as a default instant messaging client. Although I am using Empathy 2.28.1 on Ubuntu 9.10 in this tutorial, everything mentioned will be valid also on most other distributions like Fedora, Mandriva or OpenSUSE.

Add a new account

To start using Empathy you should have an account. Empathy supports many protocols as shown below.

When you start Empathy for the first time, it shows you the “Welcome” wizard which gives you an easy process to enter your account’s details

Click Forward to proceed:

In this step, you can specify your account’s type, entering your user name and password. Click Apply to finish. You can add more accounts by choosing “Yes” to the question “Do you have any other chat accounts you want to set up?”

To add and Edit your accounts press F4 or choose: Edit => Accounts from the menu.

In this step, I tried to add my google Talk account but it doesn’t work for first time but after a little googling I found the answer. Just click on advanced option and enter the following details:

1. Write: “” on server box

2. Check “Use old SSL”.

And that’s all to get your google talk account working.

Edit your personal information

You can edit your personal information by clicking Edit=> Personal Information

Choose your account type and write your new alias. You can choose a new photo by clicking on the picture box.

IRC chat

To use IRC chat, you have to add IRC account:

  1.  From the Contact List window, choose Edit ▸ Accounts, or just press F4.
  2.  Click the Add button.
  3.  From the Add new drop-down list, select an IRC account, and then click on Create button.

IRC accounts require quite different data than many other types of accounts. To create an IRC account, you must specify at least an IRC network and a nickname. See next picture:

I chose here as an example FreeNode network. If you don’t find your favorite network, you can add it by clicking on the plus icon next to drop-down list. Also you can edit or remove any network entry in drop-down networks list.

Enter your Nickname and password if you want to connect to a network that requires a password. Then click on Connect button.

Join a room

Now From menu choose room => Join

Now type the room of the channel you want to join. IRC channel names start with the hash character (#).

I typed ubuntu channel and joined it. If you want to add a channel to your Favorite channel, from menu choose Conversation, then put tick on Favorite Chatroom.


Audio and Video calls

You can only have audio and video conversation with contacts that are using an application which also supports this feature. When your contacts support audio or video conversations, you will see the following icons next to their names in the contact list:

Image  = The contact is able to have an audio conversation.

Image =  The contact is able to have a video conversation.

Empathy supports audio and video only in these accounts: Google Talk, Jabber, SIP and MSN (not yet in Ubuntu 9.10 )

To start audio or video conversation, From the Contact List window, click the video call or audio call icon next to the name of the contact you wish to call. Alternatively, right click the contact and choose Audio or video call.

A new window will appear. When the connection is established, you will see Connected at the bottom of the window, along with the total conversation time.

To end the conversation, choose Call ▸ Hang up.


File Transfer

It is possible to send files only using the following services: Jabber, Google Talk and People Nearby.

To send a file you have to follow the followings:

1-From the Contact List window, perform one of the following:

– Right click on the contact you want to send a file to, and choose Send file.

– Click on the contact you want to send a file, and choose Edit ▸ Contact ▸ Send file.

2- Select the file to send, and click on Send.

3- The File Transfers window will appear.

Wait for your contact to accept the file transfer, or you can click Stop to halt the transfer.

4- Once the transfer is completed, it is possible to close the File Transfer’s window.


Change your status

You can set your status to indicate your availability to your contacts. Empathy allows you to select your status from a list of defined statuses.

  1. Click on the drop-down list at the top of the Contact List window.
  2. Select a status from the list.

You can also add custom status messages to provide more information about your availability.

Add new themes

One unique feature of Empathy is the ability to use Adium chat themes – which is great for those looking to have a different chat layout during IM’s.

Not all Adium’s themes work out of the box yet. Check this page to get supported themes.

Install a theme

  1. First you need to create “.local/share/adium/message-styles” path and to do that go to Home directory and show hidden files from View => Show hidden files or by Ctrl+h shortcut. Go to .local/share directory and create a new folder with the name “adium”, then create a new folder within it and name it “message-styles”.
  2. You can choose and download themes from adiumxtras
  3. After you download a theme, extract the tarball and copy “themename.AdiumMessageStyle” folder to “ .local/share/adium/message-styles”.
  4. Go to empathy’s preferences from Edit=>Preferences and select Adium theme.


You want help

Empathy comes with excellent help documentation. From Help menu click on Content or press F1.