Messaging with iChat in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

Messaging with iChat in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

If you’re into instant messaging, iChat in OS X Lion gives you immediate access to all the other users of AIM, Jabber, Google Talk, and MobileMe. All you need are their screen names, and you’re set to go. You can even join any AOL chat room just by choosing File→Go to Chat. To get started, just launch iChat from either your Applications folder or your Mac OS X Lion Dock.

Your text chats can be one to one, or they can be group bull sessions. 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. Here’s all the essential info you need to get started:

  • To start a text chat, open iChat, select a buddy in your buddy list, and choose Buddies→Invite to Chat.

    Each participant’s picture (or icon) appears next to anything she says, which is displayed in a cartoonlike thought bubble. If you find the thought bubbles a little too childish, you can turn them off from the View menu.


  • To start a group text chat, hold down the Command key, click each person in your buddy list that you want to include, and then click the ‘A’ button at the bottom of the buddy list. In a group text chat, everyone sees every message from every participant.

  • To attach a picture to a person in your Address Book, copy a picture of that person to the Clipboard in your favorite graphics application (Preview, for example). Now open Address Book, and display the card for the person you want to add a picture to. Click the empty picture box at the top of the card, and paste the picture on the Clipboard. You should now see that picture on the Address Book card and also when you iChat with the person. Neat!

  • To transfer files, just drag the document’s icon to the message box and press Return or Enter. The file zips across the ether. This is a very convenient way to share photos or documents without resorting to file sharing or e-mail.


    When you drag an image file onto the iChat window’s message box, you’ll see an oversize semitransparent preview, so you’re sure you’re sending them the right image and not something totally embarrassing.

  • To send an e-mail from iChat, just select a buddy in iChat’s buddy list and then choose Buddies→Send Email (or press Command+Option+E). Mail launches (if it’s not already open) and addresses a new message to the selected buddy, ready for you to begin typing.