How to Change iChat Availability Modes in Mac OS X Snow Leopard - dummies

How to Change iChat Availability Modes in Mac OS X Snow Leopard

By Mark L. Chambers

Mac OS X Snow Leopard uses the iChat application for you chatting needs. iChat includes modes such as Available, Online, Offline, and Away, so you can let your chat buddies know whether you are available. But Snow Leopard doesn’t restrict you to the available modes.; you can create your own.

To choose an existing mode, just click it; modes with a green bullet are online modes, and red bullet modes are offline modes. (Apple provides you with some starting choices, like Surfing the Web for Available and In a Meeting for Away.)

To launch iChat, click its icon from the Dock or launch it from its iChat application icon (which you find in your Applications folder). Or, you can click its menu bar icon, which is grayed out when you’re offline.

Even when you’re offline, you can choose Available from the friendly balloon Finder menu bar icon, which automatically switches iChat to online mode. Or you can click a Buddy name directly, which automatically switches iChat to Online mode and opens the paging window for that Buddy. (Naturally, you have to have the proper network or Internet connection first.)

You can use the Away mode whenever iChat is running and you’re online but not available. For example, if you step away from your Mac for a few minutes, you might leave iChat running, but switch to Away mode. Your Buddies get a message saying that you’re Away, so they won’t bother trying to contact you. When you return to your computer, simply move your mouse, and iChat intelligently inquires as to whether you’d like to return to Available mode. You can also use the menu bar icon to switch from Away to Available.


iChat can even display the iTunes song you’re listening to at the moment. Pick Current iTunes Song from the menu and impress your friends with your digital audio techno-powers.

Speaking of modes, you, too, can create a custom mode — like Bored stiff! or Listening to the Pointy-Haired Boss — and use it instead of the somewhat mundane choices of Available and Away. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Buddy List window and click the word Available beneath your name.

    A pop-up menu appears.

  2. Click Custom Available or Custom Away to create your new mode.

    An edit box appears.

  3. Type the new mode name and press Return.

    The new name is added to your mode list.

You can also switch modes from this pop-up menu.