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OS X Mavericks: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Welcome to Messages

Messages does seven things very well:

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

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

    In this regard, Messages is a lot like the popular standalone messenger apps from AOL and Yahoo. But Messages lets you type back and forth with anyone from the AOL, Yahoo, Google Talk, and Facebook chat networks, all in a single program, which is a huge advantage. And Messages’ visual design is pure Apple.

  • Unified chat/text messages with phones (iMessages). This is huge. If you and your conversation partner both have iCloud accounts, then you can move freely from phone to tablet to Mac. Your conversation is auto-synced between gadgets. If you started texting someone on the train home, you can sit down at your Mac and open Messages—and pick up right from where you left off.

    You can also fire off a text message to somebody’s phone while seated at your Mac—a mind-bending violation of the usual rules that limit text messages to the cellular network only.

    The messages, which Apple calls iMessages, are a lot more flexible than regular text messages. They can be much longer than 160 characters. They can include photos, movies, or other kinds of files. They give you feedback that lets you know when a message has arrived on the recipient’s gadget.

    And above all, they don’t ...

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