Chapter 21. iChat

Somewhere between email and the telephone lies a unique communication tool calledinstant messaging. Plenty of instant messenger programs run on the Mac, but guess what? You don’t really need any of them. Mac OS X comes with its very own instant messenger program called iChat, built right into the system and ready to connect to your friends on the AIM, Jabber, or Google Talk networks.

To start up iChat, go to Applications→iChat, or just click iChat’s Dock icon. It looks like a blue speech balloon with a camcorder inside, which is a clue to one of iChat’s best and most substantially beefed-up Leopard features: live video chats over the Internet. This chapter covers how to use iChat to communicate by video, audio, and text with your online pals.

Welcome to iChat

iChat does five things very well:

  • Instant messaging. If you don’t know what instant messaging is, there’s a teenager near you who does.

    It’s like live email. You type messages in a chat window, in real time, and your friends type replies back to you. Instant messaging combines the privacy of email and the immediacy of the phone.

    In this regard, iChat is a lot like AOL’s popular Instant Messenger (AIM) and Buddy Chats. In fact, iChat lets you type back and forth with any of AIM’s 150 million members, which is a huge advantage. (It speaks the same “chat” language as AIM.) But iChat’s visual design is pure Apple.

  • Free long distance. If your Mac has a microphone, and so does your buddy, the two of you can also chat

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