iChat In Pictures >> Your are in Folder 4_iChat WIndows >> Page: Status Message Write box
||13 Status Message Write Box
Whichever version you have the Edit Window looks very similar. When you click the + sign you are given access to the line where the Message is displayed as in this picture. Just to confuse you I have typed "Invisible" whilst my iChat 4 Status was also set to Invisible. - what I mean is iChat adds this itself you don't have to type it but I did here for the demo of the text entry field as it becomes during a Status Message Edit.
As mentioned before this box will display 42 Characters if the Buddy List is dragged wide enough - although you can type in longer messages (AIM can read them on PCs and AIM for Mac and your Buddy can mouse over you Buddy Name in his Budy list to read all of yours).
If you type :-) in earlier versions it will not show in your Buddy List as a Smiley but will display as such to your Buddy. This changes in iChat 4 so you can see the Smiley in the Save/Edit list and in your Buddy List.
Hitting enter after typing will display the message and Save it if you have chosen to Save it in the previous window.
Important Note: These Messages are stored in the com.apple.ichat.plist along with everything that you can change in the Preferences. It is the only thing I know about iChat that is stored in the .plist that is not controlled by the Preferences. If, though, for any reason you have to delete the com.app.ichat.plist then you will lose these as well.
In iChat 3 and 4 you have the option to Display the iTunes info as the Status Message. The AppleScript that controls this checks iTunes at set intervals and posts any new song as the message. This tends to be shown as Artist then Track. It can be altered with some help in Terminal and this FAQ at MacOSXHints
(the actual AppleScript is in System/Library/Frameworks/InstantMessage.framework (now right-click or control-click iChatAgent) then Show Package Contents /Contents/Resources and is associated with a .txt document that is next to it in the List) but it easier with the MacOSXHint way
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