Ralph Johns

iChat Information Pages


Trouble Shooting in iChat

So iChat does not work and you don't know why.

What to do about Problem Solving in iChat

This page deals with working through 12 specific areas of issues with iChat not working the way you think it should.

The idea is that they appear in the list the same order in which you might come across them or they are at least in the order that suggest iChat can do more and more with the end items being more specific compared to the more Global type ones at the top of the page. To be more specific the first ones are about iChat not starting up properly or not logging on, where as the last ones are on Video chats not working or Specific Cameras not working (ichat is working but not doing a specific thing.

The panel layout lends itself to keeping each issue in a separate section. The order is left, right, down, left, right and so on.

Can not get through Start Up Screen

If you have tried to get through the first Start Up Screen on the first time you start iChat you may find that you can not progress and get an error message that reads:-

  1. iChat Internal Error!
    Invalid parameter not satisfying: aString ! = nil
  2. Or this.
  3. Unknown property 'Richard' type '-1549840836'

Both are an Address book error. It normally means there is a problem with identifying you as 'you' on the right Address Card. If the Address Book opens, you may be able to select the right card as 'you'. If not then go here and read the first two solutions.

There can also be a a Font Issue.

  1. NSInvalidArgumentException:
    addAttribute:value:range:: nil value"

This is solved by checking on Fonts Lucida Grande and Helvetica in Font Book.
The Fonts Lucida Grande or Helvetica are missing or disabled in Font Book. See Page 13: Fonts for Fix
(Essentially go to the Font Book and make sure they are both active)

This page's List of Contents.

Can not log on to the AIM sever

There are several reasons why you can not log on to the AIM server. All users of iChat or AIM whether you have an @mac.com or AIM name have to log on to the AIM server to see or start adding their Buddies to the Buddy List.

  • Your screen name details are not as you registered them.
    Fix: What I am trying to say, politely, is you have registered an account name and password with either AIM or @mac.com and mistyped one or both at that point and now the details do not match as you type in what you think you registered. Try logging on to an AIM page or @mac.com to check.
  • There is the possibility that you are having trouble with the default server and port number set in the "Server Options" button in the iChat Preferences > Account section.
    FIX: First open the Server Options. Try changing the port Number first. The default is 5190. The first substitute number should be 443. (others to try 80 as in web browsing, 110 as in email. Note: In fact any port below 1024 will do).

    Second Fix: Return to the 5190 port number and change the server name from login.oscar.aol.com to login.glogin.messaging.com

    Note: this server no longer seems to accept iChat 3 logins

  • Your modem or router is not working properly.
    FIX: In this case I am referring to the fact that your internet connection device is not configured properly. If your device has a built in Firewall or is using Network Translation (NAT) or Port Forwarding then port 5190 will need to open on the device. On some routers and modems this can be achieved with the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) setting. On others you will have to open the port for NAT on the protocols UDP and TCP.

  • You have an Airport or Wifi device that is not configured properly.
    FIX: With WiFi devices, including an Airport device, you will need to make sure that either it or the router/modem are not acting as a DHCP server. You can not have two or more such servers on a system as they both issue addresses to every other device including each other and your computer and confusion ensues. In the Airport Utility that is used to set up an Airport there is a check box that is normally 'Ticked' for "Distribute Addresses" and this needs to be unchecked. Other WiFi devices will have similar controls in their set up sessions.

    A variation on this is if your computer is on two networks, such as Wireless and ethernet, at the same time and can be seen by the DHCP server at the same time.
  • Your Address Book is not pointing to 'you'
    FIX: Your Address Book need to have the right Address Card pointing at your details. Check and correct. Your details are supposed to have the icon of the head and shoulders next to them. This can be corrected by selecting your details and using the "Make this My Card" in the card menu of the Address Book.

This page's List of Contents.

Can not Add Buddies

So iChat is up and running and you want to add a new Buddy. The Buddy has sent you details in an email and you are not having a chat with them yet, so you are going to have to resort to typing their name in - and then iChat says you can't add them.

  • You have already added them so iChat just 'bonks' the error sound you have set for your computer at you.
    1. You have them in you Address Book with possibly one AIM or @mac.com name already.
      FIX: In this case you can add the two account/screen names (even mix the types) in both the Address Book and the Address Card accessed from iChat.

    2. Open the Address Book and select the Contact/Buddy you want.
      Click on either the AIM item of the @mac.com one and add the new screen name after you have entered a comma (",")
      In iChat after opening the Buddies Info with the Apple key and "i" together you need to select their Address Card. You can add a second AIM or @mac.com name after a comma here as well.

    3. You get a message from iChat saying "Feedbag Error... Either number 10 or 17
      FIX: In this case you will need to go to Error Messages to find a fix.

      (Note: There is also to Feedbag Error 14 when trying to Add ICQ members numbers) Now listed on the link above to page 13.

      Edit Oct. 2008: In iChat 4 you do not get a FeedBag Error - the buddy Pic fades and returns as if it is going to be added but then disappears and can not be found in the Off Line Buddies either

    4. New Problem of iChat Barrier by Intego.
      FIX: One poster on the Apple iChat Discussion page found that just having this turned on meant he could not add or subtract Buddies.
      Turn it off. Re-read the instructions.
      (Note: I am expecting this to turn out to be a set up problem rather than a problem with the product)

    5. In a sort of continence from the Edit in 3. above there are some other issues in iChat 4 that look the same - the Buddy looks like they are going to be added but are not in the list - even Off-line. In this case you may need to delete com.apple.ichat.AIM.plist and restart iChat to force iChat to re-establish the Login again as the details in the .plist and the AIM server may not be fully in sync.

      If the Buddy does appear in the list but is Greyed out check the Panel to the right.

This page's List of Contents.

Can Add Buddy but Only See Greyed Out Names

Once you have added your Buddy's name it will appear in the Buddies List window, providing you have the View menu set to show Offline Buddies and you have not put them in a group which is not on display. The other causes might be:-

  • You mistyped their name.
    FIX: Check the Spelling and use the Get Info Card (or Address Book) to make changes to their name.

    This includes checking that you have not added an AIM name as an @mac.com or an @me.com name.

  • NOTE: You can have one of three AIM valid names. One from AIM itself or one of the two types from Apple, the older @mac.com or the newer @me.com names. Whichever you use you will create an AIM Buddy list. Any Buddies with an AIM valid name will be added to this list but the process lets you choose either a AIM account type, @mac.com or @me.com when you add the Buddy. The AIM servers regards georgewashington,
    and georgewashington@me.com
    as three different Buddies as the @ symbol is a valid character in an AIM name. Therefore you should consider those added as the "wrong" account type as spelling errors.

  • You have them Blocked in your Privacy settings in the iChat Preferences.
    FIX: This is unlikely but it is worth checking.
    Go to the iChat Preferences and the Privacy section and check the two Editable lists and make sure the Buddy is not in there, particularly if you have got others "Blocked" and are not using the Default "Allow All".

    In later versions of iChat 3 and iChat 4 it is possible that Buddies get added to the Block List almost as a matter of course - See item 5 in the panel to the left - it seems it is related to what the AIM servers think your settings are compared to the .plist that holds the info.

  • They are off line.
    FIX: There is no fix for some one who does not have their Chatting application on.

  • They have set themselves to "invisible" on a PC on in iChat 4 or Blocked you on either platform.
    FIX: Contact them by another method and check if a PC or iChat 4 user has set themselves to "Invisible" or if a user on Either platform has got you "Blocked"

This page's List of Contents.

You Can See Buddies but They Can't See You.

This is a reverse of the above, in essence, and it just means you have to check on your end.

  1. Are you "Blocking" them.

  2. Have they mistyped your name.

  3. Have they Blocked you.

I am not going to list all the Fixes here as they appear in the section above.

This page's List of Contents.

Can Not See Green Icons for Audio and Video

So you have successfully Added your Buddy and they are on line. They show in your Buddy list with dark Text and are Online. However, you know they have a Camera or Microphone and no little Green icons are appearing next to their name. There can be several causes for this:-

  • You have not selected to "Show Video Status" (or Audio) from the iChat View menu.
    FIX: With iChat as the front application, go to the View Menu and select "Show (relevant) Status"

  • You have not got the Camera or Microphone "Enabled" in the Video (or Audio Menu for Mics only)
    FIX: Visit the Video (Audio) menu and check a Tick appears next to the relevant item.
    Selecting the item will toggle the tick On or Off depending which is currently showing.

  • With a Microphone you also have to check two more places. The Sound Preference Pane in System Preferences > Input tab and the Video Preferences in the iChat Preferences > Microphone Drop down > select the correct device. A Camera with a Microphone included will also appear in this Preferences Pane.

This page's List of Contents.

Can Text chat but not AV

This most likely the most difficult to solve. It normally means you have to change your router or modem settings. The best FIXes are to read the options in the next section.

This page's List of Contents.

Can not connect to a certain Buddy.

In some situations you will be able to chat to one friend ("a" to "b") but friend "c" can't chat to "b". Worse still you are friend "b" and are isolated from one Buddy whilst they can chat to everybody else and so can you. Apart from the first FIX it is likely to be a Firewall or Router/modem problem.

More recent information and better understanding by me of how NAT and then the methods that rely on NAT to open the ports such as Port Forwarding, Triggering and DMZ work together - points to this being a NAT related problem where two modems (or the routers behind them) are incompatible with the one at the other end. This is because different Manufacturers use different methods to enable NAT. The realistic FIXes are the one about using UPnP and the "Bottom Line" to get one end to "Play Nicely" with the other. I leave the other information here as they are still goods hints about checking settings.

  • Check that you are Allowing and not Blocking a Buddy
    FIX: Go to the iChat menu -Preferences - Privacy section and make show you are Allowing and not Blocking your Buddy.
    In ichat 3 the Privacy Preference section becomes a sub-tab/button in the Accounts Preferences section but checking the Block and Allow Lists is still relevant.

  • Check for Firewalls.
    FIX: Check your computer, router and, if separate, your modem for firewalls. Make sure the following ports are open:- 5060, 5190, 5297, 5298, 5353, 5678, 16384-16403 in all devices.
    In Leopard the Firewall has moved and changed. You can now allow specific applications by name and the OS sorts the ports required and gives the application a "certificate" to allow that application. You do not have to set ports here. It is now in System Preferences > Security

  • Check for router or modem problems
    FIX: Your Router and or Modem may be able to perform Network Translation (NAT) or Port Forwarding which can be essentially the same thing.

    1. The ports need to be open for UDP protocol in all cases and TCP in some. See Apple Doc 93208 for complete details.

    2. If you have the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) setting use that as it will dispense with the need to set NAT/Port Forwarding settings.

    3. Find out from Manuals/ReadMe's/websites how your router or modem perform ad achieves these settings. Also go to this site's Apple Related Discussions, in Britain, to ask other users and experts how to set up your router/modem.

    4. If you have an Airport or other WiFi device you will have to set it to be a 'bridge'. In the case of an Airport device this is a case of deselecting the check box for "Distribute Addresses" in the Airport Utility when you set it up. Other WiFi devices should be able to be set to a similar configuration in it's set up session.

    5. An option on 4) above is to make the modem or first router to be a bridge and have any other device after that perform NAT/Port Forwarding.

    6. Some routers and Modems work not by Port Forwarding but by using Trigger ports. In these cases make sure you have identified port 5678 as the first Trigger. This Trigger should open port 5678, 5060, 16384-16403. In addition to this you need to have port 5190 trigger itself for Text chats and sending files. If you intend to use Rendezvous then you also need to set these three port to trigger themselves: 5297, 5298 and 5353. (EDIT September 2006: and 5220, 5222 and 5223 for Jabber).

  • Check for router compatibility.
    FIX: In some cases no matter what you do two routers or modems will not 'play nicely' together. This is because not all internet connection devices perform NAT the same way.

    1. Try a firmware update

    2. The UPnP setting. Or Port Triggering.

    3. Re-ordering your devices. (applies to VoIP devices). A Vonage adapter for instance is supposed to - according to the Instructions - go between Modem and computer. This causes problems for iChat and it should be on it's own Ethernet port on a routing device like it wa s another computer.

    4. Setting a different device as the DHCP server.

    In many cases the only option is to try another device.

This page's List of Contents.

Can see Preview of Video but get Black screen on Attempting to Chat.

This is becoming a more commonly reported problem. Unfortunately there does not appear to a standard "Fix" for this.
Start with checking these items.

  1. First of all check the System Preferences > Displays is set to Millions

  2. Check you have enough light.
    Suggested FIX: In some cases the camera will not have enough light and the picture will be so dark as to appear black. Add more light (behind the camera and pointing at you). Try iGlasses from Ecamm.com The same people who do iUSBCam iGlasses does for iSight what iUSBCam does for USB cameras and 'slower' machines.

  3. Check if the camera is switched on especially if you are using a DV CONVERTER.
    Suggested FIX: With a DV converter it can be on and the Camera can be off. This will result in a black preview as well as a black Video chat. Correct as required.

  4. Check you do not have a Canon Micro DV cam
    Suggested FIX: Canon made a range of MicroDV cameras that has an incompatible DV format with iChat. The only solution at present is to get another camera attached. (they are not the only manufacturer who do this).

  5. Check the output from the camera is set to DV if it gives you other options (DV camcorders).
    Suggested FIX: Some cameras are capable of different outputs. DV or an Analogue signal for VCR recording or TV monitoring. Make sure you have read your camera's manual(s) and find the right setting. Another thing to check is that it is Not HDV as IChat can not cope with this.

  6. Check that the "Camera Enabled" setting has a tick next to it in the iChat Video menu
    Suggested FIX: iChat has a menu item in the Video menu that allows you to deselect the connected camera by selecting the item in the said menu. This can toggle the camera On and Off each time you use the item. It does not use a another window to do this. Make sure that the item has a tick next to it to "Enable Camera".

  7. Check that there is some Picture in Picture settings in com.apple.ichat.plist
    Suggested FIX: When you start a Video chat invite in iChat you first see a preview whilst the application connects to the Buddy at the other end. When the connection is made this preview becomes the Picture in Picture (PIP) of the Video chat. The settings for this are held in the above mentioned .plist The .plist is found in OSX/Users/(Your Account)/Library/Preferences The file can be opened with TextEdit
    • (Click once on file and use Open With from the Finder's File menu) or, if you have Developer Tools installed, Property List Editor (PLE) (Straight forward double click).
      Scroll down the window in TextEdit to see if there are any PIP entries. In Property List Editor use the reveal triangle next to the word "Root" and then search the list. In either case the number should be less that 1 (example 0.25578). In PLE the number will be on the same line. In TextEdit entries come in pairs with and you should look for

    Both ways are editable and you can delete the file or correct as required.

  8. Check that a camera is listed in the above file and com.apple.ichatAgent.plist
    Suggested FIX: Some of the camera details are held in this file. Namely whether it is "Enabled" in the Video menu. A corrupt file will be at odds with the Video menu and should be deleted. Can be opened and edited in the methods detailed above.

This page's List of Contents.

Can not send Files.

This group of FIXes deals with not being able to send files. As a reminder: files can be sent by pacing them in the Text entry field of a Text Chat and appear as a link. In a Text, Video or Audio chat they can also be sent by dropping the file on the Buddies name in the Buddy List. There is also an option to use the Menu item in the Edit menu to 'Attach File'. Varying the way you try and send a file can sometimes help.

This list does presume that you have got Port 5190 open to the UDP protocol that is required for this to work. (In the Mac Firewall for iChat 2 and 3 and in the Modem/router as well for all versions). The fixes here are for those occasions when it does not work.

  • Check you are logged on.
    FIX: For this you need to see your Buddies as dark text. Check the iChat menu item "Log On to the AIM". If it reads this you will need to use it as you are not logged on.

  • Check you Buddy is logged on
    FIX: If your Buddy shows up as light grey he/she is not logged on or is blocking you for some reason. Email them if you can, contact them via someone else or wait until they are on line.

  • Check you are not blocking a Buddy
    FIX: In this case you may have deliberately or accidentally Blocked a Buddy and they will appear as off line. Go to the iChat menu- Preferences- Privacy Section and check the Blocked and Allow settings and lists.

  • Check you have not clicked an Alias
    FIX: It is easy to make the mistake of putting an alias in a text chat but you Buddy will get a 4k file and no proper link to the file. Select the correct item.

  • Check a different method
    FIX: sometimes you will get an error message that reads something like "sending too much data to quickly: href000008". If you are sending via a text chat entry field try dropping the file on the Buddy's name in the Buddy list or using the menu item in the File menu. If this does not work rebooting iChat seems to clear the problem.
    Also for this stop any Scrolling or rapidly changing Status Message. The first is normally an AppleScript but short tunes in iTunes can also cause a rapid change.

This page's List of Contents.

Can see my DV camera in iMovie but not iChat

This tends to a problem about the output signal of the DV camera.

  1. Check the signal sent out by the camera is not PAL or NTSC.
    FIX: The fix is really in the line above. Check the camera for output options. Make sure you do not have a VCR setting in operation, as some cameras can do this.
    Edit: iChat 2 and 3 can only accept DV output form a DV source and not HDV. In fact iChat even then loses some of the width of the picture the camera sees as it displays an almost square picture.

  2. Check it is DV.
    FIX: Make sure the camera is capable of DV output or get a DV converter.

  3. Check iMovie is closed down.
    FIX: It is likely that you will get an error message with this saying "The Camera is in use by another application". iMovie and some other applications take precedent over the camera and you will need to shut down/quit such applications.

  4. Check another application is not using the camera
    FIX: As above.

This page's List of Contents.

Can not get my DV camcorder to stay on

There are various things to try with this one. The FIXes are in the order as they are listed. The results will depend on individual circumstances. Basically Camcorders of any tape sort have Anti-stretch features to turn off the camera when in a parked mode such as ready to film but not recording to stop the Tape stretching. A secondary gain is that if you are out and about it saves the battery. Provided you have made some of the checks in the preceding section(left) regarding the camera signal output, the mode the camera is in and so forth then you can proceed with these checks.

  1. Take the tape out. (but close the door)

  2. Open the tape door. (and leave open) (it varies from Camera to Camera)

  3. Make sure you have power. (D' oh !)

  4. Check any power saving setting on the camera. ( 1) above, is normally what looks like this, but check anyway.)

  5. Check that output signal is continuous. (Some cameras have demo modes that kick in after a period - they tend to play through a selection of things similar to iChat 4's Video effects)

  6. Put memory card in.

  7. Check for suitable export signal.

This page's List of Contents.

Back to other pages

This page's List of Contents. - Back to iChat discussions - Front Page -
What to do if.... (PC stuff)

© 2005 Ralph Johns Edited 24/9/2005, 5/5/2006, 25/08/2007
Updated September 2006. Moved to Gargoyles and edited Mar 2007
Edited and moved to Comic October 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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