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Communicating via iChat in Mac OS X (Jaguar)

Instant messaging and chat rooms provide for interactive communication between users all over the world. If you're into instant messaging, iChat gives you immediate access to all the other users of AOL Instant Messaging (AIM) and .Mac. All you need is their screen name and you're set to go. You can even join any AOL chat room just by choosing Go To Chat from the File menu and typing its name, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Entering an AOL chat room.

Mac OS X 10.2's built-in Rendezvous support makes it even better. With Rendezvous, which offers configuration-free connections, you don't have to do anything to be part of a Rendezvous network because your Mac configures itself and joins up automatically. For example, with Rendezvous enabled, if you take your AirPort-equipped PowerBook to a location with an AirPort network, you can communicate via iChat with anyone on that network without any network configuration. Just choose Rendezvous from the Window menu and select the person with whom you want to chat from the Rendezvous window.

Your chats can be one-to-one or they can be group bull sessions. Each participant's picture (or icon) appears next to anything he says, which is displayed in a cartoon-like thought bubble, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Chatting with yourself (if your name happens to be Bob).

If you've attached a picture to a person in your Address Book, you'll even see that picture when you iChat with that person. Neat!

If you find the thought bubbles a little too childish, you can turn them off from the View menu.

iChat even lets you transfer files, giving you a very convenient way to share photos or documents without resorting to file sharing or e-mail. Just drag the document's icon to the message box, as demonstrated in Figure 3, press Enter or Return, and the file will zip across the ether.

Figure 3: Transferring a file with iChat.

iChat is integrated with the Address Book, so you don't have to enter your Buddies' information twice. It also communicates directly with the Mail application. Just select a Buddy in iChat's Buddy List, click the Compose Email button at the bottom of the window, and Mail will address a new message for you.

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