Apple’s iMessage service finally comes to the Mac-here’s how to use it…
With every new device and new software release, it becomes increasingly clear that Apple’s plan for the Mac, iPhone and iPad is to make them all work seamlessly together, with iCloud as the hub they all draw from. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to iMessage, Apple’s way of sending text and multimedia messages to your contacts for free.
Skill level – Anyone can do it
It will take – Five minute
You’ll need – OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
This feature has been available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users for a while, enabling owners of those devices to talk to each other over Wi-Fi or 3G, but it has only become part of OS X with the arrival of Mountain Lion.
It enables you to send messages to other Apple users, using either phone number or email address, and to see your conversations. It actually serves as the replacement for the old iChat app. You can use the same app to talk to your AIM Buddies, your Google Chat contacts and more. It’s now more of an instant messaging centre than ever before.
While it’s easy to get Messages set up and working, there are a few things you can do to make it simpler to use. So check out our tips here to get the most out of it and chat smarter!
How to Configure Messages
1. Adjust your alerts
Go to Messages’ Preferences menu, and then select the Alert tab. Here, you can choose Messages’ behavior when you receive a message, say, or an invitation to video chat. Choose the event to tweak from the drop-down menu, choose its sound, whether the app’s icon bounces, and more.
2. Adjust your notifications
Slightly different to the Alerts, which occur within Messages, notifications from Messages are handled in Mountain Lion’s Notification Center. Go to System Preferences> Notification Center and select Messages to choose how they appear on-screen (if at all), and more.
3. Change the appearance
Bu default, Messages for the Mac uses slightly different font settings to Messages on iOS. To make the two the same, go to Messages> Preferences> Messages and click My Background Color. Click Aqua to keep it the blue color, then click ‘Set Font…’ and change it to Helvetica Neue.
4. Multiple receiving addresses
Go to Messages> Prefrences> Accounts and click on you iMessage account. The box near the bottom tells you which addresses are used to receive iMessages on that machine (you have to redo these on every device). Click the + button to add a new one. (You’ll have to verify that it’s yours.)
5. Change sending address
One of the handy results of adding multiple addresses for receiving messages is that you can choose any one you like to be you’re ‘Caller ID’. So when you send iMessages to someone who doesn’t already have you stored in your contacts, that’s the address they’ll see as the sender.
6. Send multimedia and files
To send a file to someone, drag it from a Finder window to the composition field in Messages. Once added, a thumbnail will appear, and you can add some text afterwards. Remember, though, that iOS users may not be able to open some file types.
7. Other services & Bonjour
Though iMessage integration is the big feature of Messages, don’t forget that it’s also the replacement for iChat, and it supports the instant messaging services that iChat did: Jabber, AIM, Google Talk and Yahoo. To add the accounts, go to Preferences> Accounts and click + to enter your details.
8. Read receipts
If you want people to know when you’ve read their iMessages, you can choose to have Messages send ‘read receipts’. This updates the ‘Delivered’ text they get when a message has been sent successfully to say ‘Read’ when you’ve opened the message.
9. Talk to someone another way
Chatting by text is all well and good, but sometimes you might want to switch to another method of conversation. To the right of the mane of the person you’re chatting with is a FaceTime button; or you can click the arrow by their name to send an email, or see their full contact card?
10 Change your view options
Right-clicking in the Messages window enables you to make a few tweaks to how the interface is structured. You can view messages in ‘Boxes’ rather than balloons, which put all text in-line, while the ‘Compact’ option puts all time information to the side. You can also hide avatars and smileys.
Currently, if someone sends an iMessage to your phone number, only your phone wills receive it. But iOS 6 will unify your phone number with your email addresses, so that all of your iMessages can appear on all of your devices- even your Mac.
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