Create Custom Smiley Themes for Pidgin

It’s easy to create your own smiley theme for the Pidgin instant messaging client. For all the details, see the Smiley Themes wiki page at Pidgin’s developer site. Here’s a crash course.

In the Pidgin profile directory called .pidgin (the location varies by operating system), there is a subdirectory called smileys. In there is a subdirectory for all the smiley themes that are currently installed.

To create a new theme, make a new directory inside the smileys directory. Then put all the smiley image files (PNG or GIF format) inside. Finally, create a text file called theme. This is where you’ll define all the smileys.

The format of the theme file is similar to the old Windows .ini file (remember those?). There are multiple sections separated by a section heading in square brackets as shown below.

smile.gif :) :-) (: (-:
sad.gif :( :-( )-: ):
bigsmile.gif :D :-D

yahoo_angel.gif o:-) O:-) 0:-)
yahoo_angry.gif X-( x-( X( x(
yahoo_batting.gif ;;)
yahoo_bigsmile.gif :D :-D :d :-d

The section heading indicates for which instant messaging network the smilies apply (default applies to any network that isn’t already defined). Then, each line below the heading is the name of the smiley image file followed by one or more examples of the smiley text that Pidgin will look for to do the substitution. You can even add your own if people you chat with use a different combination of characters to represent a particular smiley.

Note that if you install a smiley theme and you don’t get any smiley images for some protocols, check the theme file to see if it has a section for that protocol. Chances are that it doesn’t. So, you can either create a section for it, or add a section called default that contains the smilies that you want to appear for any unspecified protocol. Be sure to put the default section above any others.

15 thoughts on “Create Custom Smiley Themes for Pidgin”

  1. I can’t find this: Help please, I’m running windows: Also, will others be able to see these?

  2. Do a search for smileys to find it. No, others will not be able to see your smileys unless you send them the image files.

  3. Someone clever please update Pidgin to send the custom smilies in the messages a la MSN. It should be fairly easy, no?

    I’m making my custom msn smilies into a pidgin smiley theme. If anyone’s interested send me an email (mazz0 at mazz0 dot com) and I’ll send you it when I’ve finished. It’s designed to integrate with the standard MSN smilies but have more character.

  4. I have .png icons of the Android IM icons that I added to the smileys, or now emotes directory of .pidgin. and I did the theme text file in the format you mentioned above. emo_im_happy.png 🙂 🙂 etc. But Pidgin doesn’t seem to recognize them at all. Can you help me please.

  5. There shouldn’t be anything significantly different with various Linux distributions. As long as you find the directory that contains the smilies, creating/modifying the theme is the same.

  6. Ricky, make sure that you add them to the section for the appropriate protocols ([default], [Yahoo], etc.). You can have completely different smilies for each protocol.

  7. Right you are, Superkoop. This post is almost two years old now. Do you recall when it changed?

  8. presently placing in the .pidgin or .purple directories is not working (smiley theme though coming but smiley not visible)but instead another location can be used
    this did wrk 4 me … 🙂 try one theme used majorly in gtalk Gtalk smiley theme.tar .

    Thanx the info was awesome….. 😉

  9. Hi I added this line in the theme file

    shame.png [-X [-x

    in the [default] section

    i had the png and put it in to Pidginpixmapspidginemotessmall folder ..

    But still when i try to use it.. I am not able tooo.. can somebody guide me please