Ralph Johns

iChat Information Pages


Before You Start A/V Chats

For some people it is simply a question of being on-line and starting iChat AV. If you are reading this it is likely that this is not the case for you. Or you want to make sure of things before you start.

Note iChat AV was the specfic name for iChat 2 but applies to all versions since

Areas Covered

This page lists the basic requirements to run iChat. It has links to the Apple Web pages and the Articles (Previously called Apple Docs) that have further information about the specific specs for each version

The Specific sections are:-

  1. What you will Need:-   A list of iChat requirements with info on Tiger (iChat 3) and Leopard (iChat 4)
  2. What iChat will Do:-   A Listing of the fundementals of each version of iChat
  3. Tables of Specs from Apple focusing on Leopard/iChat 4

Before you Start

What you will need

This list will be in addition to at least a G3/600 (later model bubble shaped iMacs) or better - and a Mac running Panther (or better) for iChat 2 - but also see the links to Spec sheets at Apple for more info.

That is to say the original specs for A/V chats specified the slowest Mac with a Firewire port with the current OS at the time.

There was a Beta version of iChat 2 for Jaguar but Apple discontinued it around the end of September 2004. A paid-for version that followed. (This earlier version of iChat AV worked on 10.2.5 though to 10.2.8 named Jaguar). iChat came free as part of the Panther 10.3) install. That version is currently update-able to ver. 2.1 through Software Update or direct from the Apple site. This is for Panther. (Apple Specs for this Version)

It also comes as part of Tiger (10.4.x) at a base version of iChat 3. It has been updated several times via Software Update (once on it's own and virtually every incremental OS update) See this page for Apple Specs on Tiger/IChat 3
Essentially this allows G3/600s to still do 1-1 Video but higher specs are needed to do the 4 way chats

iChat 4 In Leopard (10.5.x) raises the bar again as regard to Specs. There are differences in what Intel Macs and PPC Macs can do regarding Video Effects and Backdrops.

The List

  1. Either an AIM name (An AOL or Netscape screen name counts already) It is free here, AIM.com(registration). Or navigate from AIM.com to the screen name application by clicking on the Download button.(NOTE: Don't bother with a download after getting a screen name. You will get an email to confirm.)

  2. Or a @mac.com name. New Apple accounts can be free if you sign up for a trial MobileMe account (replaces .mac names) here, MobileMe HomePage.
    The name will not continue to work after the trial period. However if you already have an older (username@mac.com) ID it will work in iChat even if it was a trial that has expired. Newer Accounts with Apple's current service, MobileMe (username@me.com), also work.

  3.     Note: Jabber Names can also be used in iChat 3 and above. Google Mail IDs are valid Jabber IDs

  4. For iChat 2 and above - you need a camera (and a microphone). These, in addition to External and In-built iSights - could be another sort such as a Firewire DV Camera (not Sony MicroDVs) - or method of inputting DV or converting to DV from an another Camera.
    I use a Dazzle* Hollywood DV-Bridge converter (Also works with iMovie) like this, Hollywood DV Bridge (Not the Manufacturers Site but nice pics) and I can input from an Canon analogue Video camera and a Kodak DC4800 Stills camera with a TV Output.
    (NOTE: The price is not current. In fact it is no longer made I recently found out.)

  5. In iChat 3 and 4 USB cameras can be used. They can also be made to work in iChat 2

  6. A spare Firewire port on your mac. Cameras work at 200Mb/s or less and do not work well with other devices working at different speeds on the same cable.
    This means don't daisychain cameras with other devices

    Note: There is a workaround for USB cameras which is linked on Page 5

    Info from My
    System Profiler

    FireWire Bus:
    Speed: 400 Mb/sec Speed
    Manufacturer: Dazzle*, Inc.
    Model: Hollywood
    Unit Spec Id: 41005
    Speed: 100 Mb/sec Speed
    Unit Software Version: 10001

    Note the lower speed of the input in the second from last line. This may cause problems with other Firewire devices using different connection speeds (DaisyChaining).

  1. A Cable or DSL broadband link to the internet with at least an uplink speed of 100kbps.
    (Audio chats are possible over Dial-up and other lower speed connections (IDSN)
    As can be seen from the links to the Apple Specs Docs above this varies depending on 4 way video chats in Tiger or Leopard and whether you are Hosting a Multiple chat.

What Will iChat AV Do ?

It will Chat /Instant Message in text to multiple users, both iChat and AIM and access AIM chat rooms.

In iChat 3 you can also use a "Jabber" Buddy list to see your Jabber name and Text chat to a mixture or Buddies on other Services if you engage "transports". More links to that on Page 5

    You can Video or audio chat from iChat to iChat with Jabber valid names, but not to PCs or other Services like MSN and the like.

  1. It will Audio and Video chat to one other user of iChat AV or Video to AIM 5.5 (No longer downloadable) or 5.9 (Does not work on Vista) but preferably AIM 6.1 (NOT Triton, a now defunct Beta - Classed as AIM 6.0) running on Windows XP (Home or Professional).

    AIM have since Updated their version to AIM 6.5 and more recently (June 10th 2008) to AIM 6.8

    NOTE: They (your PC Buddy) must be using AIM 5.5 or above and must be XP or Vista to do Video with the AIM Application.

    There is an application for PC users called Trillian that also uses the AIM Service that allows Audio only chats (As well as Video) from PC to Macs. This has been at Version 3 for some while which came out around the time iChat went to iChat 3

  2. Depending on the capabilities of each user (which are displayed in the form of green icons in iChat. See pic to the right) you can also Audio or Video chat one way.
    (i.e. if you have a camera and your Buddy only has a microphone you can start a one way chat and he/she will see you, whist you will only hear them.)

Also depending on the capabilities of the receiver, you can exchange files; including movie clips, put pictures in the text chats as well as Text, Audio or Video Chat. (And that is before you get to the Add-Ons !!)

iChat 3 in Tiger gives you the ability to have Video or Audio only chats with more than one person. Video is with 4 people in total (you and three others) and Audio only is up to 10 people.

If this is not what you want then return to iChat Discussion Pages (pick a Forum from the list when you get to the Category page) or choose another page from the menu items.

In Leopard not only can you Text Chat, Group chat, Video or Audio Only chat, send files or Pics but you cna Screen Share with capable Buddies (other Leopard/iChat 4 users) and play movies and Slide shows with "iChat Theater"


For iChat 2 you essentially need Panther (10.3.x) and at least a G3/600Mghz Mac

iChat 3 comes with Tiger (10.4) and your Mac needs to be able to run thatlevel of OS.

Up to this point you are likley to need an External camera of some sort. The preference tends to be Firewire although USB can be made to work

If your Mac does not have an Internal Mic - you will need one of those as well. The External iSight had an Microphone inside it which is why it does not get mentioned that often.

For iChat 2 you will need an Screen Name that will work with the AIM service. These are ones from any AOL source such as Netscape or AOL or AIM. Older Apple Email names (Username@mac.com) work even if a trial one has expired or a paid one has lapsed.
Apple have chnaged what was was .Mac (and the @mac.com emails) to MobileMe and @me.com names. These will work in Leoaprd and Tiger (I have not tried iChat 2 but don't really expect a problem other than in how you might have to enter the details)

For iChat 3 and 4 you can also use Jabber Valid names.

iChat 3 offer Multiple Buddies in A/V chats

Leopard with iChat 4 offers various Video tweaks and Screen Sharing. Some of the Video tweaks are dependent on the Mac you have.

All versions need a "Broadband" internet link of at least 100kbps in both Upload as well as download speeds for Video. Audio 1-1 can be done on a Dial-up modem but multi-way Audio only chats need higher.

Tables for Leopard Specs

Audio Chat specs in Leopard.

  1-to-1 Audio Chat 10-Person audio conference
To Initiate System required All Leopard-compatible Macs are supported 1 GHz G4, dual 800 MHz G4, any G5, any Intel
Bandwidth required 56 Kbps Internet connection (up/down) 128 Kbps Internet connection (up/down)
To Participate System required All Leopard-compatible Macs are supported All Leopard-compatible Macs are supported
Bandwidth required 56 Kbps dial-up connection 56 Kbps dial-up connection


Minimum requirements for 1-to-1 video conferencing In Leopard

  Good Better Best
Video resolution (in pixels) 160-by-120 320-by-240 640-by-480
System required All Leopard-compatible Macs are supported 1.8 GHz G5, 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo 1.83 Intel Core Duo or Dual 2 GHz G5.
Bandwidth required 100 Kbps Internet connection (up/down) 300 Kbps Internet connection (up/down) 900 Kbps Internet connection (up/down)


Minimum requirements for 4-way video conferencing In Leopard

  Good Better Best
Video resolution (in pixels) 80-by-60 160-by-120 320-by-240
To initiate System required Dual 1 GHz G4, any G5, any Intel Dual 1 GHz G4, 1.8 GHz G5, 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo Dual 2 GHz G5, 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo
Bandwidth required 384 Kbps Internet connection (up/down) 600 Kbps Internet connection (up/down) 1800 Kbps Internet connection (up/down)
To participate System required 1 GHz G4, dual 800 MHz G4, any G5, or any Intel 1 GHz G4, dual 800 MHz G4, any G5, 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo Any G5, 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo
Bandwidth required 100 Kbps connection 200 Kbps connection 300 Kbps Internet connection

iChat Discussion Pages or The Next page or Top of Page

© 2005 Ralph Johns: Edited 24/9/2005, 5/5/2006
Updated September 2006. Moved to Gargoyles Mar 2007
Edited 9:47 PM Sunday; August 31, 2008

Information Block

This site is about iChat from Version 1 through to iChat 4.x.x

It has a mixture of basic info and problem solving help.

The setions below will change for Specifics about info on the page on view

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About This Page

Things specific or different about iChat 3 that came with Tiger are in little coloured boxes. Leopard are the yellow ones

Ryan's Start-up Pages for links to AIM and @mac sites for Screen names

First three numbered Links on Page 5 for Jabber


Confirmed to work with Win/IE 5.5 and later (should work in 5.0, but not confirmed), Firefox 2, Safari 3, Opera 9, iCab 3.02 and later, Mac/IE 5, Netscape 6 and later

Old browsers (IE version 4 or earlier, Netscape 4 or earlier) should only see a text-based page which, while not the prettiest option, is still entirely usable.