How to Configure iChat on Your MacBook - dummies

How to Configure iChat on Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

When you first run iChat (by clicking the iChat icon within Launchpad or by clicking the iChat icon in your Applications folder on your MacBook), you’re prompted to create an iChat account. By default, iChat uses the Apple ID account that you set up when you run Mac OS X for the first time.

In this case, your Apple ID account name and password are entered automatically for you, and you’re good to go. However, if you’re already using AIM, Jabber, Yahoo!, or Google Talk and you want to use your existing account, click the Account Type pop-up menu and choose the correct type; then enter your existing account name and password instead.

Alternatively, select the type of account you want and click the Get an iChat Account button. iChat launches Safari and whisks you to the web page where you can sign up for that type of account.

You can also choose to set up Bonjour messaging. Think of Bonjour as plug-and-play for your local network. In iChat, Bonjour allows you to see (and yak with) anyone on your local network without having to know his iChat name. That’s because Bonjour automatically announces all the iChat users who are available on your network.

If you have others using iChat, Jabber, Yahoo!, or AIM on your local network, go for this option; if you’re not connected to a local network, however, Bonjour messaging isn’t necessary. Also, if you’re on a public Wi-Fi network or if you’re connecting to the Internet with an external modem through dial-up, disable Bonjour messaging.

To turn on Bonjour messaging, click iChat→Preferences and click the Accounts tab, click the Bonjour account to select it, and then click the Enable Bonjour Instant Messaging check box.

After you finish these configuration necessities, iChat displays the Buddy List window.


A few things to note here about the Buddy List window:

  • If you don’t like your picture, don’t panic. By default, iChat uses your user account thumbnail image as your visual persona. However, you can add a picture to your iChat iDentity by dragging an image to the well next to your name at the top of the Buddy List window.

    If necessary, iChat asks you to position and size the image so that it fits in the (admittedly limited) space. This picture is then sent along with your words when you chat.

    Click your image to display your recent thumbnails. This way, you can even use a different thumbnail image for each of your many moods. (Geez.) Also, you can click Edit Picture from the pop-up menu and capture a new thumbnail with your MacBook’s FaceTime camera.

  • Check out the buttons along the bottom of the Buddy List window. In order, these buttons are

    • Add a New Buddy

    • Start a Text Chat (plain, old-fashioned chatting via the keyboard)

    • Start an Audio Chat (chatting with your voice, using microphones)

    • Start a Video Chat (the ultimate chat, where the parties can both see and hear each other)

    • Start Screen Sharing (where you can view — or even remotely control — a buddy’s computer)

    Using these buttons can handle about 90 percent of the commands that you need to give while using iChat, so use ’em!

  • Hey, look, there’s an iChat menu bar icon! When you’re running iChat, you can choose to add a balloon icon in the Lion menu bar. You can change your online/offline status, immediately invite a Buddy for a chat, or display the Buddy list.

    The menu bar icon appears only if you enable the Show Status in Menu Bar check box. To turn it on, click iChat in the menu and choose Preferences; then click the General button in the Preferences dialog’s toolbar.