The Benefits of the Mac Messages App - dummies

The Benefits of the Mac Messages App

By Edward C. Baig

On the Mac, the Messages app is useless without one more essential component: at least one other person with whom to schmooze. So, be prepared to compile your list of contacts.

Fortunately, when you sign into an instant messaging service, you usually have other folks to talk to, and longtime users of AOL’s AIM service have probably built up a nice buddy list. Similarly, if you sign in with a Google Talk, or Yahoo! account, your buddy list may already be populated with names of people in those services.

The iMessage service lets you send and receive free and secure messages on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with folks who have one or more of these devices. They’ll either get your message on their mobile device or the next time they open Messages on their Macs.

If, in return, someone sends you an iMessage, you’ll get it on your Mac and any other iOS device you may have, with the caveat that it must be running iOS 5.0 or later and must have the same account type enabled. That is, you and your friend must have AIM enabled or iMessage enabled, and so on.

Through the Messages app you get many benefits:

  • You can send iMessages to other iOS devices and/or Macs through a phone number or e-mail address. You can send regular text messages to non-Apple devices.

  • You can start an iMessage conversation on your Mac or some other Apple device and pick up where you left off on yet another device.

  • You can share attachments of up to 100MB, including full high-definition videos and photos.

Take a look at the Messages window. Any ongoing conversations are listed down the left side of the screen, with the most recent on top. On the right side, you see the exchanges from your current conversation.


To add new people to a new message or conversation, click the + all the way to the right of the To field, and choose a person from your Contacts app, your buddies, or any groups you’ve set up. You can add multiple people to the conversation.


You can choose how you want your buddy names to appear: full name, short name, or handles (e-mail address or phone number). Choose View→Buddy Names, and make your selection.