Ralph Johns

iChat Information Pages

Version 3


iChat Icon

These iChat 3 pages are coloured Orange and have the iChat 3 icon on them that was in use at the time, so you know where you are. The icon differs from Version 1 by having the camera logo added and from iChat 2 by having the Running Man removed.

iChat 3 Functions

iChat 3 drops the the AV part of the name that appeared in iChat 2 when Video and Audio Chats were Introduced.

What Can It Do.

Before and still

iChat (from version 1 upwards) can IM other AIM based/compatible IM clients. This means you can Text chats to Buddies who have valid AIM screen names that include @mac.com Email IDs whether they are Full and Paid for or Trial accounts (that work after the 60 Days ) or lapsed (full accounts no longer paid for) ones. That means you can have an AIM name or an @mac Name and text Chat to anyone with a valid AIM ID

It uses Bonjour (A name change for Tiger and Apple's own Zero Configuration Networking) to do the same to other Macs on your LAN. It does this with another Buddy List which adds Buddies, if they are running iChat, automatically. It uses their own Address Book to show you the Buddy's Name. (You appear as the Name in the Me Card in Your Address Book)

Bottom of Buddy List

Starting a Text chat is as Simple as Double clicking on the line with the Buddy's name in the Buddy List or the Button as the bottom of the Buddy List (looks like an "A") shown in this picture of the Bottom of an iChat 2 Buddy list. (there is no change in this for iChat 3)

It can send and receive Files and send Pictures as part of the Text chat. It can join Group Chats (or "Rooms").

Chatrooms follow two basic Formats. Predetermined, almost permanent Rooms dedicated to something like a Celebrity or Interest and ones created on a more Ad-hoc basis for a group of friends or Buddies. This determines how the Room or Group chat is named.

Sending a file whilst Text Chatting or Sending a Pic in the Chat changes the Chat from an everyday Text Chat into a Direct Chat. This changes the Protocol that iChat uses over the Internet from TCP to UDP. This can be important to some Routers and Modems not only in iChat (ver 1) but the later versions as well.

iChatAV (Version 2) Adds

You can see in the picture of the bottom of the Buddy List shown above that the Buddies on view have green icons next to their Buddy Pics. These can be either a camera Video iCon or a Audio Icon Audio Only symbol (telephone handset). Double Clicking the green icon showing will start a Chat of that type. To Audio Only chat to a Buddy showing a Camera you can Right (Control/^) Click on the Buddy to bring up a contextual menu, or use the Buddies Menu, the File Menu or the grey icon at the bottom of the Buddy List.

iChat 2 Added Groups to the Buddy List but left much to be desired about the way it worked.


BUddy List Group Drawer

iChat 3 Adds or Changes

There are changes to The Buddy List itself in that the previous Pop out drawer for Groups has gone and the Buddy List now has Header bars withing the Buddy List titling each Group. You can change the names of these groups and Add your own. They have reveal /hide triangles that can open and close the View of that Group. When closed they display the number of Buddies On-Line,

Turning the groups Off in the View Menu removes the Bars.

iChat 3 Add Multiple chats to both Audio Only chats and Video Chats. The Buddies that are capable display "Stacked" icons Audio  multiple icon Video Multiple icon in the Buddy list as you will do at the top of the Buddy list is you are Capable.

iChat 3, Pictures and How-tos

Formatting Chats

This is different to iChat 1 which had some simple options to format the text is provided by buttons at the bottom of the Chat window. These have been removed and now everything is from the Format Menu.

iChat Format Menu

Using the Format Menu you can change the Font and the Colour of Text either before you type it or by highlighting individual letters or words before sending.

The way the IM's are displayed can be changed from the Default Bubbles to Plain Text which a bars coloured as per you choices in the Messages Preferences and shown one above the other.

File Sending/Attaching Files

The option for the Smilies is now a greyed out symbol at the right hand end of the Text Entry field of the Text chat window. Works in Group Chats as well. See below for more

You can also drag files to the Text Entry point and after clicking in the text field sothe item is not highlighted the file will then be sent when you next hit the enter key. This means you can add text with the File or picture.

Sending files can also be done by dropping the File on the Buddy's Name in the Buddy List.

Files are anything on your Mac including Movies and pictures. See the Right Panel for the variant on sending Pictures.

In all cases you will get a pop up to Accept and agree to Send when not using a Text chat.

Files in Text chats just have to be clicked on.

Files and pictures cannot be sent in Group chats other than dropping them on individual Buddies in the Buddy List one at a time.

Displaying Info In Chats

From the View Menu when the Chat window is the Front window you get several options on what is displayed about yourself and your Buddies in the Buddy Lists and Text Chats. (in two sections)

View Menu Dropped

This can be Buddy Pic only, Name only (as Displayed in the Buddy List) or both Pic and Name.

The picture is from iChat 4 in the panel far right show my "Sig pIc" picture - which is my Buddy pic- to the right of the Bubble, with a picture sent in it. Your side does not bother with your Name under the Buddy pic like the incoming ones do.

Start Up

If you have not already done so, run the Application for the First time to get the Start Up Screens. You will have same choices in iChat 3 as the range shown in the Start Up Pictures as the site was vreated around that set.

If you have an @mac ID entered in your Address Book on your My Card the Start Up Screens will be pre-filled with this Info. The same is true if you have an AIM one in the Address Book. Otherwise get one first.

Groups in the Buddy List

The pop out drawer has been replaced by title bars in the Buddy list. It has some default Groups which you can Add to or change the name of.

There is no control over whether the title bars are shown if Show Groups is chosen in the View Menu but the Incividual groups can be collapsed down by the use of revela/hide triangles

These groups do Reorder the List where as iChat 2's version did not. Collapsing a Group does not Hide you from your Buddies either. It is more of a space saving device.

Buddies are added to the groups as you add the the to Buddy List - by defualt the last group you used and can be added to more than one group although this needs the ALT key (⌥) held down before Clicking & dragging and until the move is finished,

Range of Smiley pics in iChat 4

Smiley options

There are several to chose from. These are the view from the Edit Menu. At the Bottom of the Text Chat window selecting one will display the Text based keystrokes or what will show if you have them turned Off.


These are pictures/icons that are held in the iChat app that then replace certain keystrokes when you type them.

For instance typing the text based :-) produces Smiley in the text at your end and is displayed by the Buddy the same way. (the :-) is still sent as Text, it is the the iChat at either end that displays it as an icon.)

In the View Menu there is an Option not to Display (Hide) them. You will see the text based equivalents instead. The same is true if your Buddy has an Add-On Smiley pack which at his end displays different things and usually more options.

:-) is Smile
;-) is Wink
:-( Is Frown
:-/ :/ or :-\ or :\ will produce Undecided
and so on. The " - " as nose does not seem important and on some the leading " = " seems allowed.

Adding Buddies.

It is required if you want to initiate Chats with your Buddies that you either Add them to the Buddy List or use the Go to Chat item in the File Menu. There is no difference to the iChat 2 method.

Saving Transcripts

Messages Prefs

There is an Option in the Messages Preferences to Save Transcripts of the Text chats you have had. This option has to be set before they are saved or you can save an open Chat window even if the Buddy has left from the File menu (Save As option)

They are saved in your own Users Folder/Documents/iChats by date and time and Buddy's Name.

In the File Menu the option to Open will allow you to review these and Open Recent Opens old Transcripts you have Opened before (not a new Chat).

Audio and Video Chats

It is already mentioned in the opening Panel. iChat 2 introduced Audio only and Video chats. (Compared to some other applications, Video here means moving pics with sound). iChat 3 adds the ability to Chat to 3 other Buddiies in a Video chat or 9 other Buddies in an Audio Only chat. This does push up the specs needed somewhat for 4-way Vide chats to happen.

In iChat 3 Audio only or Video of these can be done on a 1-1 basis. It can be to any other Mac on your LAN (Via Bonjour/Rendezvous) as well as over the Internet to your Contacts (Buddies) using AIM Valid Screen Names. This includes other iChat users, AIM 5.5 or higher on a PC (Until AIM 6.5 when AIM changed the Video codecs of their PC app.) and PC users using Trillian Pro.

You can also start or join chats with Multple Buddies if your Mac's Proccessor is up to it along with your Internet Conenction. You need at least 384 k as both Upload and downloasd speeds and at least a G4 1Ghz dual processor to Host a 4 way video chat

Camera Input

Apple released the External iSight at the same time as iChat 2 and this was a firewire camera that had fixings for most screen type available at the time. As many camcorders of the time had DV output they also tended to come with Firewire ports as well so these were also a source of external cameras. There were also a rash of other Firewire webcams (see the bottom of this page) around at the time as firewire was the only thing really fast enough to get a picture in enough frames into a computer, Things have changed on that front with USB 2.0, DV Converters, whether firewire or USB 2.0, also work as "Camera" input devices so you can use older analogue Camcorders or stills cameras with TV output signals.

The External iSIght is no longer sold by Apple. This seems to be for several reasons not least being a European Directive about disposing of items after their usefulness and some of the components in the iSight did not meet this. See here for more info on the Camera. It is not clear if the Internal iSights were part of this or came as a result of Apple not being able to sell the iSight in Europe.

If you have means to connect two cameras iChat will automatically create an extra drop down in the Video pane of the iChat Preferences for you to select the choice there.

The menu to the right of Buddies will be called Audio if you don't have a camera or the OS can not see it. Otherwise it will be called Video. In here whichever name it has are two items to Enable or not the Camera and Microphone. as the OS way of turning them On and Off. (It is more of ignoring the signal for either rather than ON/Off control specifically). Clicking these toggles them On or Off dependent on current state - a tick present is ON.

It is possble to get some USB cameras to work whether USB1.1 or USB 2,0 devices as long as you can get Mac Drivers for them. (it also neeeds an Add-On Utility). Howvere at the 10.4.9 update Apple introduced a Generic USB Video Class (UVC) driver into the OS which works with any USB 2.0 Camera (you have to have a USB 2.0 POrt on your Mac) that is "Vista Certified" and some others. (It will not make a USB1.1 camera work).

Microphone Input

The External iSight had a Microphone inside but as many Macs also have Internal Mics this is not so much of an issue. Also any USB 1.1 Mic will be recognised by the OS. The Volume is controlled in System Preferences > Sound > Input tab. That is to say if your Buddy says you are too quiet you can turn yourself Up by adjusting the sound into the Computer from whichever Mic you have selected in the System Preferences.

If two or more Input devices for Audio appear in System Preferences > Sound, iChat itself will have a drop down to also match the choice. Both have to be matched AND the item in the Menu to the right of Buddies (Audio if no Camera and Video if you have one) has "Microphone Enabled" ticked. With some external Mics you also have to make sure any On/Off Switch is On.

Many Macs have a LIne-in socket for a 3.5mm jack. However this is for Preammped input and will not work with many Mics.

Showing Video and Audio Able Buddies in the List

By default this is On. It is set in the View Menu with "Show Audio Status" and "Show Video Status".

These will display those Buddies with a relevant Green icon which can do Video and those that can do Audio Only.

Staring a Chat

There are several ways of doing this.

  1. From the Buddies menu after highlighting a Buddy in the List.
  2. Right or Control Clicking a Buddy will bring up a similar Contextual Menu over the Buddy List.
  3. Or you can just double click the green icon.
  4. A further method is supplied by highlighting a Buddy then using the relevant icon at the Bottom of the Buddy List.

Items 1, 2, and 4 will let you select an Audio only chat with a Video capable Buddy if you wish to do so.

You can do One way Video Chats if one end does not have a camera but is better started by the end that has the camera. Audio will flow both ways for this.


iChat 2 can do all that iChat 1 can.

iChat can join the AIM service with an AIM valid name from either AIM itself or from @mac.com (or it's newer replacement MobileMe Names).

It can chat to other Macs (Buddies) over Bonjour/Rendezvous on your LAN.

It can send FIles in Text chats as well as "loose" by dropping them on Buddy's name in the Buddy List.

It can send Picture as Files by dropping them on a Buddy or have them displayed in the Chat.

Text can be changed as to Font and Colour as presets or by altering the text you are about to Send.

Display a Status Message - additional text to replace the Available or Away defaults. The keystrokes that make smileys can be typed and will display as the icon at the other end.

iChat 2 adds

2 way Audio Only chats to iChat Users, PC users with AIM 5.5 through to AIM 6.1 or Trillian Pro.

2 way Video Chats to the same group of Buddies if they also have a camera.

1 way Video chat with Audio both ways if they don't have a camera.

A Pop out drawer where Groups can be added. Buddies added to Groups are displayed by turning a Group off and leaving just those you need or want at the time. Buddies can be added to more than one group but count towards the total number you can have, although they do not appear in the Buddy List more than once.

iChat 3 adds

Better integration of Groups and their ordering in the Buddy List.

The ability to use Jabber Servers including Googletalk - although this does mean three Buddy Lists can be on display.

Makes it easier to switch between multiple Screen Names of the same type.

Cosmetic changes to the Preferences Panes making them somewhat more Logical.

And, of course, adds the ability to chat to up to 3 other people in a Video chat or 9 others in a Audio Only chat. If a Buddy only has a Microphone they can still be invited to a multi- Video chat but they count as one Video Buddy as they are getting your and any other Buddies Video feed.

Sig Pic

Created 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 sections below will change for Specifics about info on the page on view

If you find these pages helpful please Donate to help keep them up to date

About This Page

Simple explanations of the things iChat 3 can do. See the How-tos and Pictures for more.

Pictures in Text Chats

Placing in the Text Field and hitting enter after releasing it (click in the text field so the file is not Highlighted) will send it like a file but it will be displayed in the Chat. Dragging the window bigger will expand the picture until it is full size if your Screen is big enough.

Pic in Chat

(iChat 4 pic again for demo )

Remember that most graphic apps will reduce the percentage size of a picture with higher than 72dpi to make it fit the working window. iChat does similar but can adjust things dynamically - however your Buddy may not be able to display something adequately on his 15" screen as you can on your 30"


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.