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How to Chat in Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s iChat Application

Mac OS X Snow Leopard offers the iChat application for instant messaging. You can view who is in a chat already in progress and join a group of people chatting, or initiate a chat with available Buddies.

Joining a Chat

If you want to join an AIM chat already in progress, choose File→Go to Chat Room (or press Command+Control+G). Depending on the service being used, you might have to specify both the type of chat and the specific chat room name.

If the green phone icon appears next to both your name and your Buddy’s name in the Buddy’s List, you can enjoy a two-way audio (or voice) chat. If both you and your Buddy (or Buddies) have iSight or DV cameras connected to your Macs, you can jump into a real-time, two-way video chat room, complete with audio.

If your Mac has a microphone or video camera hooked up but you don’t see these icons, click the Video menu and make sure that the Microphone Enabled and Camera Enabled menu items are selected.

Inviting a Buddy to Chat

To invite someone to text chat, click the desired Buddy from the Buddy list, click Buddies, and then choose Invite to Chat. (If your mouse has two buttons, right-click the Buddy in the list and click Invite to Chat.) You can also click directly on the phone or camera icon next to the person’s name in your Buddy list. iChat displays the Group Chat window, which also doubles as an Invitation window.

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You can invite additional Buddies to enter the chat by clicking the plus button at the bottom left of the Participants list and choosing another Buddy. If the Participants list isn’t visible, click the View menu and choose Show Chat Participants.

Type your invitation text into the entry box at the bottom of the window. You can add a Smiley to your invitation text: Click in the desired spot in the text, click the Smiley button to the right of the text entry field, and then choose the proper Smiley from the list. To send the invitation, press Return.

The recipient of your chat invitation can decline or accept your chat invitation. You’re notified (as delicately as possible) if the chat has been declined.

To invite a Buddy to an audio chat, select that person in the Buddy list, click the Buddies menu, and then choose Invite to Audio Chat (or One-Way Audio Chat, if only one of you has a microphone). A video invitation works in a similar fashion: Click Buddies and choose either Invite to Video Chat or Invite to One-Way Video Chat, depending on the hardware available. You can also just right-click — or Control-click — the person in your Buddy list and choose these commands from the pop-up menu that appears.

If the chat is accepted, iChat displays a message saying that the Buddy whom you invited has joined the chat, and you now can begin the chat. You don’t have to alternate sending messages back and forth between participants. Everyone in a chat can compose and send messages at the same time.

If someone invites you to a chat, you get the opposite side of the coin: A dialog appears, and you can choose to accept or decline the invitation. (If it’s a video chat, you even get a video preview of the person inviting you.)

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