Ralph Johns

iChat Information Pages

Version 2


iChat Icon

These iChatAV (Version 2) pages are coloured Green and have the iChat 2 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.

iChatAV (Version 2) Formating Text in Text Chats


This information is in addtion to setting the Bubble or (Plain Text) background colour of an IM that is sent set in the iChat Menu > Preferences > Messages pane.

Formatting Text Chats and Sending Smileys


There are two main ways to do this.

  1. By the choice of Bubble and Font colour and style in the iChat Preferences > Messages

  2. From the Format Window.

In addition to this the View menu can change between Bubble View and Text View.

Method 1. is self explanatory in that you go to the iChat Menu > Preferences and highlight/select the Messages Pane. From there you use the relevant Buttons and Drop downs to select the Font (Style/type), the Font Colour and the Bubble colour that you want to be seen as your Outgoing style. If in the View Menu you have choosen the Text view option the colour choosen for th Bubbles will be a background colour.

In choosing colours go for Light on Dark or Dark on Light to get the text to Stand out and use opposing colours, roughly Yellow with Blue, Green with Red and Magenta/Purple with Orange. See this example of two colours of Text on 216 coloured squares. We are talking here of basic 6 colour Printing techniques. (Of course there are exceptions).

In choosing a Font make sure it follows the basics of:-

  1. You know most other people will have it.
  2. That your friends and family can read it.
  3. That the size works for them at their end as well as you at yours.

  4. This free Font Site has a sample Text entry field where you can test the font.
    I Have Borg9 but in small text it is not so good.That bit reads "I have Borg9 but in small text it is not so good")

Method 2. requires that you highlight a work or letter and then use the Format Menu to bring up the Font and /or Colour Pallets. Generally it is a One-Off use thing. You can also select a Formatting choice before typing. It allows you to make more extensive changes to the Font and colours. It will not change the Bubble colour here so you will have to remember what should work together as you only get to see it in Black on White before it is sent. (in iChat 3 onwards the Text entry also gets coloured as per Formatting choices)


Smileys are very common now. Most people know the basic Keystrokes to create their text based impression in an email or posting on a Discussion Forum. In fact the Apple Discussions recognise when people type :-) and convert as it is posted in to a picture like this (In fact the complete range can be accessed here) and are very close to the iChat ver 1 and 2 ones.

In iChat 2 the buttons that iChat 1 had to do some formatting including adding smilies has gone. To Insert an Smiley there is now a grey option button and the end of the Text Entry field and another option in the View Menu to do the same. I will let you play to discover which keystrokes create which Smiley.

iChat coverts the Text version as you press enter and sends a Smiley as well as it being displayed as such in your Window/Bubble.

Sending Text

Sending what you type or have Copied and Pasted is done by hitting the Enter key.

If you Copy & Paste there is a limit to the amount of Text that can be sent in one go. Also the Text Entry field will now expand to view all (most, if you Paste a large block) that you enter.


Plain URLs and text converted to a Link can also be sent. At one time there was some abuse of this so sending plain URLs can be better but it is still worth changing longer ones.

You do this by highlighting a word then use the item in the Edit Menu which brings up a Dialogue box to enter the full URL into.

If you just use the item in the Edit menu iChat will substitue the word "here" for you. (See also the picures on the right).

Both you and your Buddy will display when something is being typed or about to be sent during a 1-1 Text chat. This does not happen in Group Chats/Chatrooms (See the right panel)


The Message Preferences

Prefs Message Pane

The Chat Window (no Formatting buttons in iChat 2 onwards)

Chat window
The greyed out Smilie at the end of the line is the option Button to Include one. It will produce a Pop out Drawer and as you mouse over them it will display the Keystrokes you could use.

The Format Window

Format Window

Some options can only be used on selected Text.


Choose a Bubble Colour you like.

If it is Dark, tend towards a lighter Font Colour.

If Light, tend toward a Dark Font Colour.

Use a more common Font that many people will have and use and pay attention to it's readability.

In iChat 2 and onwards the Text field will expand to include everything you type or Paste to the field. However there is a limit to the amount of characters it will hold of about 250 words or so.


Edit Menu

Edit Menu

Smiley range


You will notice that the Edit Menu has the Option to make a highlighted word become a Hyperlink with the Keystroke option of Apple Key ( or ⌘) and the K key. If you use Apple+k or the option in the menu without having highlighted a word iChat will substitute the word "here" for you.

Chat Hyperlink Substute

Thought Bubbles

In 1-1 Text chats, as you or your Buddy types, Thought Bubbles appear along side the Buddy Pic (if displayed) to indicate something will be coming or sent soon.

Speech Bubbles

If you choose to use plain Text as the IM display then the thought Bubbles are replaced by three dots like so ...

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

Having started a Text Chat the next step you may want to consider is formatting the chat with different colours and fonts. This includes adding Smilies to the Chat as you go and whether to use the Standard Speech Bubbles or plain text.

This section has the info on how to actually send that IM when typed and formatted. I also note that the Speech Bubbles appear when you or your Buddy are getting ready to send something.


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.