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Instant Messaging Software

Instant messaging is of course the wildly popular Internet chatting tool chat in real time, opposed to the back-and-forth method found in turn-based email.

What's more, IM programs allow you to chat with multiple people at once (even with a microphone or video Webcam!), play multiplayer games, swap files such as photos and music, or even collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other files all the while chatting throughout the process.

Let's take a look at how to edit your "idle" messages.

If your boss or tattle-tale coworkers are on the list of people in your IM community (often referred to as a buddy list), he or she can more or less see if you've been a busy little beaver or slacking off.

That is. if you've been away from your PC enjoying a 20-minute coffee break, your IM program will say you've been inactive for a while.

Let's face it — that dirty little four-letter word "idle" has a negative connotation, no?

Fret not — follow these simple rules to turn off the notification. Also, keep in mind, you might be yanked into a last-minute meeting and don't have time to log out of your IM program — you don't want your offsite customers or clients to think you're slacking off, right?

If you use AIM, one of AOL's various IM services, follow these steps to disable the idle notification:

  1. From your Buddy List window, click Setup near the bottom right.
  2. Click Preferences.
  3. On the left side of the screen, click Privacy.
  4. Half-way down the page you'll find a check box labeled Allow users to see how long I've been idle. Be sure this box is unchecked!
  5. Once completed, click OK or Apply.

Yahoo! Messenger users, listen up. To disable the idle notification, follow these simple steps:

  1. Double-click the Yahoo! Messenger icon in your system tray (the little smiley face near the clock on your PC) to launch the IM client.
  2. From the main window, click the Messenger tab at the top of the screen.
  3. Click Privacy Options.
  4. Under Idle Status, click the box that has the label Do not show anyone how long I have been idle.
  5. Click OK or Apply.

The following is a step-by-step walkthrough for MSN Messenger users:

  1. Launch MSN Messenger and click the Tools tab at the top of the window.
  2. Click Options from the pull-down menu.
  3. Under the area titled My Status, you can uncheck the rule that says Show me as "Away" when I'm inactive for 5 minutes. Or you can increase that number to 60 minutes if you'd like to keep the idle notification but don't want it to kick in immediately.
  4. Click OK.
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