There is little change from iChat 4 to iChat 5 that comes with Snow Leopard that if you have Updated your Intel Mac computer to Snow Leopard then iChat will be easy for you.
If, on the other hand you have never used iChat before this page and the ones it links to are the places to Start.
Within certain limits the the Buddy List can be ordered. This page says how. Certainly more can be done in iChat 5 with the use of Groups compared to iChat 2. In iChat 5 they can be seen directly in the Buddy List. Compared to iChat 3 Groups are even more flexible
So you have added a few Buddies and you want them to appear in a different order.
Within certain limits this can be done from the View Menu. There are also Buddies Groups in iChat versions 4 and 5
As with other items in the iChat menus, the correct window within iChat has to be the front one. Is this case you want the Buddy List as the Front window and for the Picture grab it was. You need the second section mainly although Show Groups and choosing Not to Show Off Line Buddies may also play a factor
You can see that it says "Sort By Availability" with a tick next to it. You can also apply a two pass method of selecting one of the Alphabetical options then the "Sort By Availability" to have an Alphabetical List with the Available ones at the top.
Buddies can be in one of 4, visible to you, states. Green as Available, Amber (orange) as Idle, Red as Away and greyed out as Off-Line. There is an additional selection to decide whether to display Off-Line Buddies or not at the top of the View menu items. (Show Off-Line Buddies)
Notes: Idle is when a Buddies computer is on and iChat is logged in but they are not touching any input device such as the Mouse or Keyboard, and will show after 10 minutes of non input even if their computer is rendering a video clip for example.
By default iChat will be set to the Available setting although you can change this in the iChat menu > Preferences > General and Accounts Sections based on 1). Whether an Account/Screen Name should Log-in in the accounts section and 2). What iChat should do at Start Up in the General Section.
Notes: You can not drag the Buddies into the order you want - if you use the "Sort By..." options. The "Manually" option does let you drag the Buddies into the order you want
iChat version 5 does allow you to order your Buddies into Groups as well. There are 4 default groups.
The ability to Edit Group Names is no longer an Option in the + symbol that gave you an Menu to Add Buddies, add Groups an Edit groups in iChat 4. However Right/Control clicking a Group header bar within the Buddy list will bring up a Contextual menu that allows you to Edit (Rename) the name. If you also Click and Hold then Drag the Group title Bar you can reorder your Groups this way, as they are no longer Alphabetically organised
By default Buddies tend to be in only one Group and dragging them one to another moves them. However if you hold down the ALT (⌥) key before clicking and dragging a Buddy they will be copied to the second group (Providing the ALT (⌥) key is let go last).
Using the Reveal Arrow to the right of the individual Group name bar opens or Closes that Group from view. Other than placing the Buddies in different Groups the other formatting of Status/Availability (Available, Idle or Away) is set from the View Menu.
Next - How-to Start a Chat
© Ralph Johns June 2010
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This site is about iChat from Version 1 through to iChat 5.x
It has a mixture of basic info and problem solving help.