Ralph Johns

iChat Information Pages


Arranging the Buddy List in iChat

Arranging Your Buddy List.

Your buddy list will soon fill up. It will likely contain friends, family, Mac User Groups Members, and others that you have accumulated. They will not all be on-line at the same time. And so a list of fifty plus names will be off the end of your screen, particularly if you are displaying the Buddy icons.

This page looks at the options you have in Displaying and Organizing the Buddy List.

Making the list shorter

There are display options you can use.

  1. Click the Buddy List window to make it the front window.
  2. Go to the Menu bar and select the View menu.
  3. The top item should read "Show Buddy Pictures" with a tick next to it.
  4. Select this item to remove the tick. The Buddy icons will disappear and more names will scroll up from out of sight.

To a small extent the same applies to Showing the Video and Audio Status icons as they are slightly bigger than the text but there is little to be gained from this and can make it difficult to start Video or Audio chats (Use the Buddies Menu).

It can look like this though Buddy List shorter

Sorting the list

Adjust Buddyclear

By now you will have Buddies stored with just their Account/Screen name, others with just a first name (lets hope they are not all called John) and others with first and last names entered in their Address Card (see Command/Apple//⌘ key and " i ")

You now need to use the View menu again and select one of the "Sort By..." options.

  1. "Available" will bring the On-line ones to the top, with the Available ones at the very top and the Away ones underneath. If any Buddy is 'Idle' they will appear in between. (Idle is when the computer has not received any input from a connected device like the mouse or keyboard) The names can be sub-ordered alphabetically. See under 3. below.

  2. "First" name speaks for itself and they appear alphabetically.

  3. "Last" name is the same as "First", except for the name that is used.

You can alter the way the name is displayed by putting things like Family as the First name and putting the whole of their name in the Last name field in the Address card (Command/Apple//⌘ key and " i ") This will display all three parts. Such as Family (additional First name entry) Ralph (Normal First name entry) Johns (last Name entry). You can use other characters such as " - " and "(" or ")" to aid your visual recognition.

Finally, for this section, you can use a combination of the Sort options to get the List to display as you prefer. For instance using the First name option will display all you Buddies alphabetically. If you then switch to Available they will retain the alphabetical sort as well.

  1. You can of course remove Buddies that have not been used in a while.
    1. Click once on the Buddy to highlight
    2. Use the BackSpace key
    3. Hit Enter to confirm the pop up message

In iChat 3 use the View Menu to Show Off-Line Buddies or even as a separate Off-Line Group to assist with 4.


There are three groups as default on iChat.

  1. Family

  2. Buddies

  3. Friends (I think it was this, because I have changed mine)

You can display the iChat 2.x Groups drawer by two methods. (see below for iChat 3)

  1. Clicking on the word Groups under your details in the Buddy List and above the Buddies.

  2. From the View menu.

Both will make a side drawer open from the buddy list. Clicking on the tick box at the top of the drawer will turn the off that main coverall and light up the individual groups. This way you can turn off one groups at a time and see which groups Buddies belong to.

Buddies are added to a group by dragging their name from the Buddy list to one of the groups. Adding a buddy to two groups or more will not display them any more times in the Buddy list but will cut down the number of Buddies you can have in total. Hence the reason for checking in the paragraph above.

Group names can be changed by clicking on the name of the Group.

More Groups can be added by clicking on the + sign at the bottom.

Other Display Issues

Unfortunately you can not sort by Groups. Occasionally, though your "Sort by..." setting will get lost and the View menu will not display a sort by choice. At these times the list will revert to displaying your Buddy List by group.

Short of Adding a prefix to the name there is no way to order the groups (See Sorting the list, above)

A Buddy List

Buddy List1

iChat 3 and 4

iChat 3 Buddy List

Buddy list3 clear As you can see from this Picture the iChat 3 Buddy list can display the Groups in Tabs.

This is done from the View menu in iChat 3 and using or selecting the Show Groups item. If this options is unselected the Buddy list will display as it does in iChat 2 with the Buddies being sorted by the other options, if used, in the View menu.

The Groups can be renamed as shown by using the + sign at the bottom of the Buddy List and selecting Edit Groups

As you can see I have added Special Characters to Sort the list beyond Alphabetically which is the only way they display.

It has to be said that iChat 3 adds Buddies to only one group. This tends to be the top one of the list. Buddies have to be dragged to their correct group. Generally this is less automatic duplication compared to iChat 2.x

iChat 4

In iChat 4 when choosing to Add a Buddy and option to choose the Group to add them to is given in a drop down within the Add window where you can add Extra info such as the Real Name. The Default is always the last group you Added a Buddy to

In both versions the Buddy list remains the same comparative size to iChat 2 when the Buddy Pics are displayed. But see "Notes" below.

Notes For iChat 2.x

Essentially there are very few reasons at this moment in time to use groups other than to make some things easier for your self. The AdiumX screen shots show you what has be done, by another application, in identifying the different sorts of account types and the varied ways you could use the information. The only way this is likely to change at the moment is by user Feedback.

Also in iChat 2.x there is a tendency for new Buddies to be added to all groups. This causes a problem with the number of Buddies you can have. The total was 200. These are counted as the list as a whole - so Buddies in more than one group are counted that many times that they appear. (This is to do with the way AIM displays/counts Buddies rather than the iChat display) See Page 11 for a Fix and the error message you will get.

Notes for Both

If your Buddy list is really long I would choose the option that allows you to not show off-line buddies. (See View menu). This is more likely to create a short, more viewable list.

In addition there is an Add-On called Chax. One of the things it can do is to reduce the Font Size of the Buddy List. Another is colour the Tabs for the group Headers.

This really came out for iChat 3 and now has Links to a Download for Leopard/iChat 4 on the Front page with a link to a direct download for Tiger/iChat 3.


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© 2005 Ralph Johns: Edited 24/9/2005, 5/5/2006
Updated September 2006. Moved to Gargoyles and edited Mar 2007
Small Edit 24th September 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

Shortening the List (Display)

How to get the Buddy list to have more Names on display if you have lots.
It will display shorter if you have less. In iChat 2 this will mean dragging the list shorter.

Sorting The List

How to use the Sort Options to get the Names to display by Availability or Alphabetically.

Using one after the other produces a sub sort so that they appear Available and in Alphabetical order

Don't forget you can remove Buddies as well. Even Blocked ones. Leave them in the Blocked list though.


What to do to create groups.

How to tweak the Group name to display in a different order using leading Special Characters like " * "

iChat 2 has a pop out Drawer with the groups in it. iChat 3 has tabs within the List

Both can be hidden.

iChat 3

I am not going to mark this whole section in pink.

Just to say this section looks at some of the iChat 3 differences in more detail.

Notes on iChat 2

Compares the use of Groups in iChat 2. The Drawer makes the screen space needed bigger even if you only have the three standard groups it fills the side of the Buddy List


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