How to Get Started with IRC: A Complete Beginner’s Guide (2024)

  • Categories
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Internet
  • Online Communications
  • Chat Websites

Download Article

Chat it up in channels thanks to IRC

Written byTravis Boylls

Last Updated: May 18, 2024Fact Checked

Download Article

  • Downloading an IRC Client
  • |
  • Connecting to IRC
  • |
  • Joining a Channel
  • |
  • Chatting and Messaging
  • |
  • Common Commands
  • |
  • Tips
  • |
  • Warnings

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is an internet protocol that lets you communicate with people with text in real-time. While IRC has been declining in popularity in favor of other chat systems like Discord and Telegram, it is still widely used amongst tech enthusiasts and the open-source software community. This wikiHow article teaches you how to get started using IRC.

How to Use IRC to Chat

  • To get started with IRC, you'll need an IRC client like the web-based Mibbit, mIRC for Windows, or Hexchat for Linux.
  • After opening your IRC client, pick a nickname and connect to an IRC server.
  • Type "/join #[channel name]" to join a channel or chat room.

Section 1 of 5:

Downloading an IRC Client

Download Article

  1. Download and install an IRC client. A client is the software you use to chat on IRC. Some popular options:

    • Cross-platform:
      • Mibbit is a web-based Ajax IRC client.
      • Pidgin is a multi-platform instant messaging client that supports IRC, AIM, Yahoo, Facebook Messenger, and several other protocols.
      • Irssi is an IRC client designed to run in the command-line interface using the Terminal on Linux or macOS.
      • Smuxi is an irssi-inspired, flexible, user-friendly, and cross-platform IRC client for advanced users, targeting the GNOME Linux desktop.
      • WeeChat is another terminal-based IRC client designed for use using the Terminal on Linux or macOS.
    • Windows:
      • mIRC is the most popular IRC client for Windows because it is so easily modifiable. It has a 30-day license for you to try the software, after which you may still use it but are given a message asking that you register it for a fee of $20.
      • ClicksAndWhistles is a free IRC client for Windows.
      • IceChat is another free customizable IRC client for Windows.
    • Linux:
      • XChat is one of the most popular IRC clients for Linux. It is also available for Windows.
      • HexChat is based on the X-Chat client and is free to download.
      • Konversation is a popular KDE IRC client that usually comes pre-installed on the Kubuntu distribution of Linux.
    • Mac:
      • Colloquy is a free IRC client available for Mac and iOS.
      • LimeChat is a free IRC client for Mac available from the Mac App Store.
      • XChat Aqua/Azure is a free IRC Client for macOS based on XChat2. It is available from the App Store on Mac.
    • Android:
      • IRCCloud is a free IRC client for Android available on the Google Play Store. It is also available for iPhone and iPad and has a web-based client.
      • Revolution IRC is a modern IRC client design for Android with functionality in mind. It is currently available as early access in the Google Play Store.
    • iOS:
      • Igloo Classic is a modern IRC client available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPad.
      • IRCCloud is a free IRC client for Android and iOS devices.
  2. Advertisem*nt

Section 2 of 5:

Connecting to IRC

Download Article

  1. 1

    Enter a nickname. When you launch your IRC client, it will ask you to enter a nickname (or "nick" for short). This can be any name you want. However, it does have to be unique. No other user on the server you join can have your nickname.

    • Because your nick has to be unique, many IRC clients will ask you to enter an alternate nick in case yours is taken.
    • You can set your nickname at any time by typing /nick [your desired nickname] and pressing Enter or Return.
    • If you want to register your nickname with the server so no one else can use it, you can do so after joining the server. Type /msg nickserv register [enter a password] [enter your email address] and press Enter or Return.
  2. 2

    Select a server to connect to. Most IRC clients have a drop-down menu with various servers you can connect to. Each server or network has a variety of channels or chat rooms. Use the drop-down menu to select a network or server to connect to. Once you select a nickname and a server, click the button to connect to the server in your IRC client.

    • If the server or network you're looking for is not listed, most IRC clients have the option to add a server. Click this option and enter the server address (i.e., "chat.freenode.net") and click the option to add or connect to the server.
    • You can also join a server by typing /server [server address] and pressing Enter.
  3. Advertisem*nt

Section 3 of 5:

Joining a Channel

Download Article

  1. Join a channel. IRC servers have a variety of channels or chat rooms you can join. Channels have a hashtag (#) followed by the chat room name, and usually revolve around specific topics or interests (i.e., gaming, movie downloads, etc.). You can just click the channel or right-click a channel and click the option to join.

    • You can join a chat room at any time by typing /join #[chat room name] and pressing Enter or Return.
    • To view a list of channels, type /list and press Enter or Return.

Section 4 of 5:

Chatting and Messaging

Download Article

  1. 1

    To chat in a channel, type your message and press Enter or Return. Most IRC clients have a text bar at the bottom of the client that you can click and enter text. Anything you type into the channel will be visible to others.

    • Chat messages will usually be displayed in the main window panel with the user's nickname listed to the left of the message. Messages will appear instantly as they are sent.
  2. 2

    Send a private message. If you see someone in a chat that you want to talk with in private, you can send them a private message. Most IRC clients will allow you to start a private chat with someone by double-clicking their nickname, or right-clicking their nickname and selecting the option to message them. This will open a new window where you and the user can chat privately without the rest of the room seeing your conversation.

    • You can also open a private message window with another user by typing /query [user's nickname] and pressing Enter.
    • Alternatively, you can private message a user within the chat by typing /msg [user's nickname] [message] and pressing Enter. The message will appear in the chat along with all the other messages, but only the user you mentioned can see it. The message will also be marked as private.
  3. Advertisem*nt

Section 5 of 5:

Common Commands

Download Article

  1. 1

    IRC has a variety of commands you can use. You can enter a command by typing a forward slash (/) followed by the command and pressing Enter.[1]

    • /help: Displays a list of help topics.
    • /nick [nickname]. Change your nickname.
    • /msg nickserv register [password] [email address]. Register your nickname with the server.
    • /server [server address]. Join an IRC server.
    • /list. List channels on the IRC server.
    • /join #[channelname]. Join a channel (chat).
    • /names #[channel]. List all nicknames in a specific channel.
    • /whois [nickname]. Display information about a specific nickname.
    • /away [message]. Let users know you are away from your computer and not paying attention to the chat. You can leave an optional message for users who try to message you.
    • /ignore [nickname]. Ignore a specific user.
    • /msg [nickname] [message]. Send a private message to another user within the chat window.
    • /query [nickname] [message]. Send a private message to another user in a separate window.
  2. 2

    me [action]. Describe yourself doing an action (e.g., "/me is cleaning my room").

    • /part #[channelname]. Leave a channel.
    • /quit [message]. Disconnect from IRC. You can also leave an optional goodbye message with this command.
  3. Advertisem*nt

Expert Q&A

Ask a Question

200 characters left

Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

Submit

      Advertisem*nt

      Tips

      • IRC is great for problem-solving and troubleshooting.

        Thanks

        Helpful0Not Helpful0

      • Most people on IRC are friendly, but it is best not to annoy them. If you have a question or comment, quickly check the channel topic first and see if it has any recommendations.

        Thanks

        Helpful0Not Helpful0

      • You can use Mibbit IRC Search-engine to search for IRC servers.

        Thanks

        Helpful0Not Helpful0

      Show More Tips

      Submit a Tip

      All tip submissions are carefully reviewed before being published

      Submit

      Thanks for submitting a tip for review!

      Advertisem*nt

      Warnings

      • As in any section of society, there are always some immoral and dangerous people. Never reveal personal data, such as your real name or credit card number. There are people on IRC who may pose as other people and try to gain your confidence.

        Thanks

        Helpful1Not Helpful0

      Advertisem*nt

      You Might Also Like

      How toStart an Online Business
      A Step-by-Step Guide on Seeing Deleted Messages on Discord13 Solutions to Fix Screen Share Audio Not Working in DiscordHow to Stream HBO Max on Discord on Windows and MacWays to Fix If Discord Shows a Notification but There’s No MessageHow toBlock and Unblock a Buddy on Imo.ImHow toUse ChatrouletteHow toChat OnlineA Step-by-Step Tutorial to Use Midjourney on DiscordHow to Use GroupMe on Computer8 Simple Ways to Enable Your Camera on OmegleGet Unbanned from Chatroulette: Appeal or Bypass a BanHow to Stream Valorant on Discord with In-Game Comms

      Advertisem*nt

      Some wiki Related IRC Channels

      • #wikipedia ( here ) - Wikipedia IRC channel
      • #wiktionary ( here ) - Wiktionary IRC channel
      • #wikisource ( here ) - WikiSource IRC channel
      • #wikibooks ( here ) - WikiBooks IRC channel
      • #wikimedia ( here ) - Wikimedia IRC channel
      • #wikinews ( here ) - WikiNews IRC channel
      • #wikiquote ( here ) - WikiQuotes IRC channel
      • Note: you must have a browser that recognizes the irc:// protocol for your IRC client to open any of these links.

      About This Article

      How to Get Started with IRC: A Complete Beginner’s Guide (31)

      Written by:

      Travis Boylls

      wikiHow Technology Writer

      This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Travis Boylls. Travis Boylls is a Technology Writer and Editor for wikiHow. Travis has experience writing technology-related articles, providing software customer service, and in graphic design. He specializes in Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux platforms. He studied graphic design at Pikes Peak Community College. This article has been viewed 367,578 times.

      How helpful is this?

      Co-authors: 43

      Updated: May 18, 2024

      Views:367,578

      Categories: Chat Websites

      In other languages

      Spanish

      Russian

      • Print
      • Send fan mail to authors

      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 367,578 times.

      Reader Success Stories

      • How to Get Started with IRC: A Complete Beginner’s Guide (32)

        Rajiv Lochan Panda

        Mar 16, 2017

        "I'm completely new to IRC, as I always use Skype for my IM needs, but for developing in an open-source..." more

        Rated this article:

      More reader storiesHide reader stories

      Is this article up to date?

      Advertisem*nt

      How to Get Started with IRC: A Complete Beginner’s Guide (2024)

      References

      Top Articles
      Latest Posts
      Article information

      Author: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

      Last Updated:

      Views: 5709

      Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

      Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

      Author information

      Name: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

      Birthday: 2001-01-17

      Address: Suite 769 2454 Marsha Coves, Debbieton, MS 95002

      Phone: +813077629322

      Job: Real-Estate Executive

      Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

      Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.