Ralph Johns

iChat Information Pages


What Is Stored in the iChat Preference Files

.plists Explored.

What is Stored in your Preference Files

All the settings you make in either the menu settings or in iChat Prefences are stored in four or five preference files, depending on the iChat version you are using.

  1. com.apple.ichat.plist

  2. com.apple.ichatAgent.plist

  3. com.apple.ichat.AIM.plist

  4. com.apple.ichat.Subnet.plist

  5. iChat 3

They are all found in Users/(your account)/Library/Preferences. (mine looks like this for the path /Users/ralph/Library/Preferences)

For different issues deleting a .plist can sort some problems. Restarting iChat recreates them. Ideally delete only one at a time as deleting all sends you back to the Start Up Screens

A closer look

Screen7com.apple.ichatSubnet.plist is only created if you choose the Privacy section in iChat's Preference settings for Allow and Block lists of Buddies. The default for the setting is Allow All. If you have any trouble in resetting your Allow or Block list this is the file to delete.iChat 3 Calls these Security Settings and they appear as a tab in the Accounts section

com.apple.ichatAIM.plist is the file where your login account name is held (to the AIM server). The proxy server settings and, if you have not cleared the list, the other account names you have entered in the Accounts Preference Section are also held in this file. Deleting this file can be useful (sometimes) if you are having problems connecting to the AIM server.

You will lose all the AIM and Mac Account/Screen names used under one Mac user account if you opted not to Store them in the KeyChain or they are not in your own Address Book: Me card entry.

    (Note the distinction between iChat Account/Screen names that you need to log on to the AIM server with and the Mac User account that you log onto your computer with. You can have more than one AIM log-in Account name stored in the Accounts Section of iChat Preferences and swap between them in the drop down found in the Accounts section.
    If you do this for a friend rather than set them up a whole Mac account on your computer they could send messages in your name by switching back as there is no check when doing so if you have asked Keychain to remember your Password.)

However, if you did opt to keep the info about your iChat Screen names in the KeyChain then they will will be pre-filled back into iChat. Essentially the clue is if you have to enter a Password each time you start-up iChat.You can of course also check the details in the KeyChain.

If you have asked KeyChain to remember your password (it makes it easier not to enter it at every iChat start-up) then you have to remember to delete the entry for the AIM/Mac screen name there as well, if you Delete a Screen Name in iChat.

com.apple.ichatAgent.plist stores your Buddy icon reference. And the "enabled" settings found in the Video menu for the Camera and the Mic. Essentially it is the .plist file for the background application iChatAgent that runs when iChat does. It broadcasts that you are on-line and sends you current Buddy icon to the server.

iChat 3
com.apple.iChat.Jabber.plist is where the details of your Jabber account(s) are held.

It has the same role for the Jabber side as the com.apple.ichat.AIM.plist does for the AIM/@mac/@me.com side of iChat.
iChatplist com.apple.ichat.plist is where everything else is stored.
In No particular order:
  • Your Status Messages,
  • Your Balloon and Text style choices for Text messages,
  • The download folder for files (If you have changed it from the Desktop default).
  • Other things like the position of the Picture in Picture during Video chats
  • And the position on the screen that the various windows appear are also contained here.
  • The option to Display the Menu Bar icon
  • The option to Save Text Chat Transcripts

iChat 3
In iChat 3 there are extra settings held such as the Bandwidth calculation (those bits with BW in them).



All the iChat2.x .plists can be opened by TextEdit (or any other Text editor) from the "Open With" menu item in the Finder's File Menu and then navigating to the TextEdit (or other) application. They tend to look like this (although this is a Screen Shot in Leopard using Quicklook)

iChat .plist pic

If you have installed Developer Tools you can also open them in Property List Editor (the only way to open iChat 3 .plists), like I have in the above demostration pictures. They are edtiatble and can be saved afterwards to make individual changes.

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

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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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.

About This Page

The point of this page was to give people a look at the .plists and hope that they might be able to find their way with them a bit.

I used to have a lot of trouble with four pictures on this page so I have reduced it to just two examples of those displayed by Property LIst Editor and one that displays simialr to TextEdit that can be used in Panther/iChat 2.