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One Account Can Be Used On Multiple Macs and iOS Devices

For Mac users who also have an iOS device, conversations can begin on one device and instantly be switched to another device, simply by launching the Messages app. Or, if someone sends you a message, it will appear on your Mac and/or your iOS mobile device that's linked to the same account.

To fully utilize the Messages app and iMessage service on your Mac and/or all of your iOS devices, a free iMessage account must first be set up using your pre-existing Apple ID. To set up or manage your Apple ID, visit http://www.apple.com/support/appleid. An iMessage account can be set up from within the Messages app by selecting the Accounts option from the Messages pull-down menu (at the top of the Messages screen), and then by clicking on the Accounts tab within the window that appears.

As an iMessage user (via the Messages app), you can use your Apple ID as your Username (or identifier), or you can set up Messages on your Mac and iOS devices to use another pre-existing email address as your "Caller ID" identifier, which is equivalent to your unique phone number, allowing other Messages users to send you messages via iMessage. By default, an iPhone uses its cellular phone number as its identifier. However, an alias email address (Caller ID) for iMessage can also be set up and used for receiving messages via the Messages app.

For people with multiple Macs (such as an iMac, a MacBook and/or a MacBook Air), in addition to an iOS mobile device (such as an iPhone and/or iPad), the Messages app on each computer and device must be set up with identical account information for the app to work properly and for you to be able to send/receive messages from each computer or device.

Install and Set Up Messages On A Mac Running Mac OS X Lion

Starting in Summer 2012, the Messages app will come bundled with the OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion operating system. However, if you're a Mac user running the current Mac OS X 10.7.3 Lion operating system, you can download the free Messages app right away, and replace the iChat app.

Then, once the Message app is installed and running on your Mac, follow the directions displayed on the Welcome To Messages screens to set up your Apple iMessage and various pre-existing instant messaging accounts. When promoted, begin by entering your Apple ID and password. Then, one at a time, enter the username and password for each of your preexisting instant messaging accounts with AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk and/or Jabber, as applicable.

If you already have Messages running on your iPhone, you'll also need to set up an email alias (Caller ID) for your iMessage account if you want the account to also be accessible from your Mac. To do this from your iPhone, launch the Settings app, and select the Messages option. From the Messages submenu within Settings, tap on the Receive At option, followed by the Add Another Email option. Enter the same email address on your iPhone that you used to set up iMessage on your Mac.

If you already have Messages running on your iPad, simply use the same email address when setting up Messages on your Mac as you used when establishing your iMessage account on your tablet.

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