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iSight : Common PC Chat Applications and iChat

As mentioned in the Title box - there are pages that were written a little while ago by EZ Jim, a poster on the Apple Discussions who contributed to iSight and iChat Discussions. The words the following pages are EZ Jim's

Use the the Information Column Menu for EZ Jim's pages

Common PC Chat Applications and iChat

iChat AV is a client application that can access the AIM Server. That is why iChat AV can connect with other AIM Server clients such as AIM for Windows and Trillian on the PC.

Many users ask if they can use iChat AV with Microsoft / MSN Messenger for Mac, Windows Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger for Mac, or AIM for Mac.

Other than AIM for Mac, the above named apps do NOT work directly with iChat AV because they are clients of other servers: MSN, Yahoo, etc. The AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and Windows Messenger servers use different protocols specified by their owners. Therefore, they are not able to connect with each other. Only the owners of these servers could agree to make them compatible with each other, and there is no indication that they intend to undertake such a long and expensive process.

Some of the apps named here can connect to Jabber servers, as can iChat AV 3. Such apps can connect with each other via compatible Jabber servers. Limitations of the Jabber connections are, in fact, implementation limitations resulting from the server owners' decisions on how Jabber may be used on their servers.

Here is a summary of what works (and what doesn't) for these common applications.

Except as noted, all references are to iChat AV 2.1. Where iChat AV 3 is intended, iChat AV 3 is specified.

iChat AV 3 Jabber: text chat:
For info see:

Other than Jabber, the following apply.
There is no Jabber in iChat AV 2.1.

Microsoft Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger)

Microsoft Messenger:Mac (MSMM) is a text only app. You cannot use iSight (or any camera) with MSMM for Mac.

MSM (whether the Mac or PC version) will not connect to iChat AV 2.1 in any way, even for text. MSMM for Mac will connect with MSM whether on PCs or on other Macs, but for text ONLY.

(EDIT 06Mar21) The latest Microsoft Messenger for Mac (5.1) claims:    
A corporate account uses ... Live Communications Server, .... can also have instant message conversations with users who have other instant messaging services, such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo Messenger, and iChat users who are signed in with AOL accounts.

Although I have not tested this, it seems this claims that those who establish a corporate account can text chat with users of these other chat server clients. If this is what you want to do, alternative apps such as a href="http://www.adiumx.com/">Adium, Fire, and Proteus can also allow you to text chat with users of multiple chat services. (END EDIT)

There are two alternative clients of the MSMM server that MAY allow Mac video chat with PC Microsoft/MSN Messenger users: Mercury Messenger for Mac and aMSN for Mac OS X (tend to be Video with no Audio).

Yahoo! Messenger (EDIT 05Aug25)

Yahoo! Messenger for Mac (YM) can use iSight's camera, but does NO audio of any kind. This is the way the software is written, not a problem with iSight.

Although this Yahoo! Help page still indicates that Yahoo! does not have a schedule for adding Macintosh audio, the YM link at the top of this FAQ claims to add "Voice."

I downloaded and tested Yahoo! Messenger (v.2.5.3 for OS X) on 8/25/05, and I find NO VOICE capability. It seems YM's link is in error or premature. For now, YM provides only text and video chat without audio.

Yahoo Messenger (whether the Mac or PC version) will not connect to iChat AV 2.1.

FYI: Some Mac users report that YM is difficult to use. It was simple plug and play for me, but if you search iSight Discussions for "Yahoo," you will find that some seem unable to use YM for anything but text. Yahoo! Help suggestions were ineffective for some of these users. Those users have a choice between changing to another chat app or trying Yahoo! Messenger on a PC, for which Yahoo! Messenger application seems better supported.

AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) for Mac

AIM for Mac is a text chat only application. Therefore, you can not use iSight (or any camera) with AIM for Mac.

AIM for Mac will connect to BOTH iChat AV and to AIM for PC, but for text ONLY.

Use iChat AV if you want to use your iSight with a PC user who uses AIM.


The PC application "Trillian Pro" can be used on the PC for audio & video chat with iChat AV.

There is no Mac version of Trillian. (Edit: Actually there is a Beta but bith this and the Trillian Pro have seemed to have slowed in develoment)

Windows Messenger
Windows Messenger is a PC application with NO Macintosh version. Windows Messenger doesn't connect with iChat.

For Mac text, audio, and video messaging, Apple offers iChat AV.

My best suggestions for Mac Video Chat with PCs are at this link. See iChat Help on your Mac or Ralph Johns' iChat Pages for more info about iChat AV.

Other AV apps are linked in the Some Applications you can use with iSight FAQ. and here.

If you are primarily interested in text chat, there are more alternatives, although the ones I have tried do not work as well as iChat AV, and most do not do audio or video AT ALL between Mac and PC users. See IRC, Chat & Instant Messaging for some apps you may want to try.

Written By EZ Jim

Made on Mac
Made on a Mac®

© 2005, 2006 EZ Jim
Updated September 2006

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

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