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Using Messages On A Mac For Text Messages and Instant Messages

When it comes to using the Messages on a Mac for instant messaging (via AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk or Jabber), very little is different from the iChat app you're probably already familiar with. A buddy list window displaying each instant messaging account will be displayed that contains your buddies or friends associated with each account.

Click on a buddy to initiate an instant messaging (text-based) conversation, or click on the New Message option found under the File pull-down menu when running Messages. Once the conversation is established, the conversation window displayed by Messages looks a bit different than iChat. Now, the look and user interface of the main Messages window closely resembles the Messages app for the iPhone or iPad.

On the left side of the main Messages window will be listings for each conversation you're participating in (or recently participated in). On the right side of this window, the current conversation is displayed. To quickly switch between conversations (and participate in separate conversations with different users at once), highlight and click on the user name that's displayed on the left side of the main Messages window.

To establish a new conversation, tap on the new message icon that's displayed near the top-left corner of the main Messages window. Then, near the top-right side of the screen, fill in the To field with the person's username whom you want to communicate with. Based on which service you use, enter their AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk or Jabber username, their iMessage username (or email address), or their iPhone's phone number, for example.

It's also possible to bring multiple people into the same conversation by clicking on the plus-sign icon that's displayed to the right of the To field. Enter additional contact usernames, phone numbers or email addresses for the intended recipients. Just like so many other apps on the Mac and iOS mobile devices, Messages now links to your Address Book database and makes it easy to find and make contact with people who have listings within your database.

Once the To field is filled in, access the message field at the bottom of the Messages window and begin typing your outgoing message. Press the Return key to send the message. The recipient will receive it almost instantly, but can respond at their leisure.

If you're communicating with someone who also has a FaceTime account, tap on the video camera-shaped icon that's displayed in the upper-right corner of the main Messages window to switch from instant messaging (or text messaging) to a real-time video conference via FaceTime.

Also as you're participating in a conversation using the Messages app, you can drag and drop a files, photo, document, video clip or other content from your Mac into the outgoing message field to send it to the person you're chatting with. You can also use the commands displayed under the Buddies pull-down menu to send a file, or to share your entire screen with someone else (to collaborate on a project or showcase a PowerPoint presentation, for example).

Whether you're using iMessage for text messaging, or using another instant messaging service, the Messages app automatically saves all of your conversations until you manually delete them. It also keeps track of the time and date of each incoming and outgoing message.

The Messages App On A Mac Has Many Uses

Whether you want to chat in real-time with other people (including Mac or Windows-based PC users with an AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk or Jabber account), or utilize the text messaging feature of iMessage to communicate with other Mac and/or iOS device users, the Messages app on the Mac now serves a variety of purposes and seamlessly integrates with Address Book and FaceTime.

As you'll discover, the most complicated part of using Messages, if you already uses the app on your iOS device(s), is initially setting up the Mac app to recognize the same pre-existing account usernames and/or email address alias (Caller ID) as what's already registered with the iMessage service. Then, when it comes to communicating with others via iMessage, you'll need to know their username, email address or iPhone phone number which they use to access the iMessage service.

Once an initial connection with someone else is made using Messages, however, making subsequent connections is easy. You'll quickly discover that Messages offers a fast and convenient alternative to email, voice mail, telephone conversations and even in-person conversations when you want or need to communicate with family, friends, coworkers or Internet acquaintances.

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