Ralph Johns

iChat Information Pages

Version 4


iChat Icon

These iChat 4 pages are coloured Gray and have the iChat 4 icon on them that was in use at the time, so you know where you are. The icon differs little from the Version 3 version.


iChat 4 Functions.

iChat 4 adds several features to iChat. Tabbed Text chatting eventually arrives. This goes hand in hand with being able to log in to several Jabber or AIM valid Screen Names at the same time. Alongside this is the ability to watch for your Name in Chats. On the Video Chat front Effects and Backdrops have been added to do Photo Booth type tweaks to your Video picture although the backdrops require at least and Intel Mac. As a separate feature Screen Sharing is added.

Anyway from the Beginning....

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. Since June 2008 Apple dropped the @mac.com or .Mac service and changed it to MobileMe with @me.com email IDs. I will deal with this in greater details in the How to Get a Screen Name page.

It also uses Bonjour (A name change from Tiger and Apple's own Zero Configuration Networking - previously called Rendezvous) 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 details as their Buddy's Name. (You appear as the Name in the My 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 or 4)

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. I make this somewhat false distinction to be clear on the general use of the words "Chatrooms" and "Group Chats".

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) Added

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 Added or Changed

There were changes to The Buddy List itself in that the previous Pop out drawer for Groups in iChat 2 went with the coming of iChat 3 and the Buddy List continues to have Header bars within 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 and the list will be resorted as a whole based on your Sort By option also in the View menu.

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 if you are Capable yourself. iChat continues with this look to the Buddy list.

iChat 4 Adds

In Text chats several Text chats windows can be grouped in to one Chat Window with tabs (bars) for each chat.

You can log in to more than one AIM valid and Jabber ID at once. You can control how they are listed in the Window menu form the List in iChat menu > Preferences > Accounts as the list there is now drag-able.

You can share files via the Video Chat window and choose to either send as files or display as the Video Feed (iChat Theater). There is a specific link to iChat Photo to do Slide Shows.

In Video chats you can choose how your picture looks or change the background if you have an Intel Mac with Effects and Backdrops.

You can record chats if you Buddy agrees.

You can Screen Share in either direction with iChat 4 Buddies


Review iChat 3 info for basic Text Formatting and other info.
Text Chats
Window Menu

On the Text chatting and Accounts front, iChat 4 can log in to several AIM valid names at once and do the same with Jabber IDs. To help with this the Accounts Preferences Pane list of accounts is now drag-able. This in turn changes the Window Menu list when it shows the On-line Buddy Lists. If you have two AIM Valid names log-in then they adopt the Screen Name as the title of the Buddy List window and show in the Window Menu as such.

It also means the Apple (/ Command/⌘) key + number options are no longer consistent to reveal the Buddy List by keystrokes as they were in iChat 1 through 3. They are now personal to you and your Accounts as you can see from this picture, where I have two AIM valid Accounts and two Jabber valid IDs logged in as well as Bonjour.

As you can also set multiple Text chats to collect into one Chat Window and be controlled by tabs (bars at the bottom of the window)- you also get control in the Window Menu and with Key Strokes or Apple (/ Command/⌘) and either { or } to go "Backwards" or "Forwards". (greyed out in Picture as no Text Chat window open). In the Preferences you also can set it to look for your Name in a Chat and the DOCK icon will bounce and the Chat tab will alert you as well.

Video Chats

There have been several changes, big and small to this area. Firstly you can now drag a file to the Video Chat window and an overlay of how to Send it or Display it with iChat Theater appears. This means pictures or slide shows from iPhoto can be sent via the Video chat window as files or if you Choose iChat Theater they become the Video feed from your end.

FIle Menu

iChat Theater has two menu items in the File Menu. iChat Theater itself will display, as the video feed, any file you can open on your Mac such as PowerPoint or Keynote items or Movies or just plain documents from whatever app.

The link with iPhoto allows you to choose Pictures or Albums/groups of pics as Slide Shows as the video feed. Control is in iPhoto and it is worth turning the default Play Music option Off as you start the display if you wish to comment over the show.

Video Menu

In the Video Menu you get the choice to allow Screen Sharing. This can only be done with other iChat 4 Buddies. It can not be done at the same time as you allow or use Apple Remote Desktop set in the System Preferences > Sharing Pane. You get a choice of who is the "Host" for this (Buddies Menu or Buddy List). It is great for teaching other people how to do something as it includes a Audio feed that Apple Remote Desktop does not.

You can go straight from an Audio only chat or Video chat to a Screen Share but you need to restart whichever type of chat it was when you finish the Screen Share if you want to continue Chatting.

You can also Record the Video or Audio chat but your Buddy has to agree to this in a pop up at their end.

Video Effects

Perhaps the most talked about and documented change is the link iChat now has with the Compositions that tweak the Photo Booth application's pictures.

There are two sorts of tweaks. Effects which are available to anyone that can run iChat 4 - the basic Photo Booth options of changing how the picture looks such as the picture here and the Pinch, Bulge, Mirror and so on choices. These are available to G4, G5 and Intel Macs.


The second sort are available to Intel Macs only and these are called Backdrops. They use Blue or Green screen techniques to study the view when you "Step out of the Frame" and replace it with a Backdrop of your choice. These can be Stills or Movies. Apple give you some presets but also allow you to select your own.

Normal View

<<-- From this to this -->>

As an example

There are download sites of extra choices and this adds to the number of "Pages" that you have the choices on.

iChat 4, Pictures and How-tos


iChat 4 can do all that iChat 1, 2 and 3 can.

iChat 1 Basics that all iChat version can do

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.

It can send Hyperlinks as click-able items in Text chat, formatted or unformatted.

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.

1 way Audio Only chats if they have no camera or Mic.

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.

iChat 4 Adds

Grouped Text chats - meaning Tabbed Chats.

iChat Theater - allows files to be displayed as the Video feed. Includes a specific iPhoto version for Slide Shows or individual pics. Depending on your Mac's specs these can display a bit like a Multi-chat with you still in a Pic-in-Pic as well as the feed.

Allows re-ordering of the Accounts in the iChat Preferences.

Allows multiple Screen Names logins to the AIM Server and to Jabber Servers.

Can Screen Share using iChat to other iChat 4 users.

Can do Video Effects for G4 upwards and Backdrops with an Intel Mac to the Video Feed from your end.

You can record Video and Audio chats between you and other iChat 4 Buddies if the Buddy agrees.

Changes to the way Smilies appear at your End in Status Message you create.

Allows you to Set yourself to Invisible whilst remaining Logged in.

Minor tweaks to the Preferences to cover some of these changes.

Some changes to the Menus to streamline and add new features.


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

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About This Page

Simple explanations of the things iChat 4 can do. See the How-tos and Pictures for more.


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.