Facebook messenger can be used from the desktop via your browser, or via the newly released apps for Windows 10 and macOS. The apps and the web interface will tell you when a friend is online, and how long ago they were last online. The service also tells you when a message you sent has been read. What it doesn’t do is tell you when someone has just come online. You have to constantly monitor Messenger in order to find out. If you don’t have the time for that, you can get alerts when a Facebook Messenger friend is online but you will have to use a desktop chat app.
The desktop chat app that we recommend you use is called Pidgin. It’s been around for years though setting up a Facebook account on it requires using a plugin. You can learn how to connect Facebook Messenger with Pidgin on Windows 10 here, and on Linux here.
Facebook messenger online alert
Once you’ve got Facebook Messenger connected to Pidgin, you’re halfway done. Pidgin takes a little time to show all your friends from Messenger so try exchanging a few messages with them to help the app along.
To set up an alert, open a conversation window for the person you want to get online alerts for. Go to Conversation>Add Buddy Pounce.
In the window that opens, select the ‘Signs on’ option and save it. You will get a pop up when the contact is online and if you want, you can enter a message in the ‘Pop up a notification’ field.
When the contact is online, a Pidgin alert window will appear on your screen telling you they are online. The alert might take a second or two to show up but you will get it.
The alerts are set up on a per-buddy basis. You can configure it for your frequent contacts and leave the rest as they are. While this is aimed at Facebook Messenger friends, it is entirely possible that you can set up a pounce alert for users that you talk to on Messenger but that aren’t necessarily Facebook friends.
Pidgin can be used with several other chat services and likewise, you can create a pounce alert for contacts created under that service. It goes without saying that you must have Pidgin running on your desktop in order to receive online alerts. You should also remember that users can come online, and go offline within seconds e.g., opening and closing a tab or app so if that happens, you will get an alert but the user might already have gone offline.