21.7. Text Chatting

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21.7. Text Chatting

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21.7. Text Chatting A typed chat works like this: Each time you or your chat partner types something and then presses Enter, the text appears on both your screens (Figure 21-6). iChat displays each typed comment next to an icon, which can be any of these three things

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  1. 21.7. Text Chatting A typed chat works like this: Each time you or your chat partner types something and then presses Enter, the text appears on both your screens (Figure 21-6). iChat displays each typed comment next to an icon, which can be any of these three things: • A picture they added. If the buddy added her own picture—to her own copy of iChat, a Jabber program, or AOL Instant Messenger—it will be transmitted to you, appearing automatically in the chat window. Cool! • A picture you added. If you've added a picture of that person to the Buddy List or Address Book, you see it here instead. (After all, your vision of what somebody looks like may not match his own self-image.) • Generic. If nobody's done icon-dragging of any sort, you get a generic icon— either a blue globe (for .Mac people), a light bulb (for Google Talkers), or the AOL Instant Messenger running man (for AIM people). Figure 21-6. As you chat, your comments always appear on the right. If you haven't yet created a custom icon, you'll look like a blue globe or an AOL running man. You can choose a picture for yourself either in your own Address Book card or right in iChat. And Web links your pals paste into messages are perfectly clickable— your Web browser leaps right up to take you to the site your friend has shared. To choose a graphic to use as your own icon, click the square picture to the right of your own name at the top of the Buddy, Jabber, or Bonjour list. From the pop-up palette of recently selected pictures, choose Edit Picture to open a pop-up image selection palette, where you can take a snapshot with your Mac's camera or choose a photo file from your hard drive. Feel free to build an array of different graphics to represent yourself—and to change them in mid-chat, using this pop-up palette, to the delight or confusion of your conversation partner. Tip: When you minimize the iChat message window, its Dock icon displays the icon of the person you're chatting with—a handy reminder that she's still there. 21.7.1. In-chat fun
  2. Typing isn't the only thing you can do during a chat. You can also perform any of these stunts: • Open the drawer. Choose View Show Chat Participants to hide or show the "drawer" that lists every person in your current group chat. To invite somebody new to the chat, click the + button at the bottom of the drawer, or drag the person's icon out of the Buddy list window and into this drawer. • Format your text. You can press -B or -I to make your next typed utterance bold or italic. Or change your color or font by choosing Format Show Colors or Format Show Fonts, which summons the standard Mac OS X color or font palettes. (If you use some weird font that your chat partners don't have installed, they won't see the same typeface.) • Insert a smiley. When you choose a face (like Undecided, Angry, or Frown) from this quick-access menu of smiley options (at the right end of the text-reply box), iChat inserts it as a graphic into your response. On the other hand, if you know the correct symbols to produce smileys—that :) means a smiling face, for example—you can save time by typing them instead of using the pop-up menu. iChat converts them into smiley icons on the fly, as soon as you send your reply. Send a file. Choosing Buddies Send File lets you send a file to all the participants in your chat. POWER USERS' CLINIC Getting Animated in iChat Most people find the text that scrolls by quite dynamic enough. But if you need more activity in the iChat window, you can also add moving icons to liven up your Buddy List. Such an icon, an animated GIF file, is actually built of several individual frames that are played in succession, creating a crude sort of animation. To find an animated GIF file worthy of representing you or your buddies, look online, where thousands are available online. Search for them with Google, or visit sites like www.gifanimations.com or www.gifs.net. Once you've secured a good animated GIF, add it to your iChat profile (as
  3. described on the previous page), then choose iChat Preferences General, and turn on "Animate buddy pictures." You can even make your own animated GIF icons in Photo Booth (Chapter 10). Take a four-frame picture using the 4-up photo option, taking care to make four different crazy faces as the camera snaps four times. When the four shots show up in the Photo Booth photo tray, click the Buddy Picture button to make that shot your new iChat photo. You can assign a Photo Booth animated GIF to another buddy, too; choose File Export from the Photo Booth menu. Save the file to your Mac and add it to your Address Book card for that pal. (Whether or not you tell your friend what image you've associated with his screen name is up to you.) Better yet, just drag the file's icon from the Finder into the box where you normally type. (This trick works well with pictures, because your conversation partner sees the graphic right in his iChat window.) This is a fantastic way to transfer a file that would be too big to send by email. A chat window never gets "full," and no attachment is too large to send. This method halves the time of transfer, too, since your recipients get the file as you upload it. They don't have to wait 20 minutes for you to send the file, and then another 20 minutes to download it, as they would with email or FTP. Note, though, that this option isn't available in old versions of the AOL Instant Messenger program—only new versions and iChat. If you have multiple conversations taking place—and are flinging files around to a bunch of people—you can keep an eye on each file's progress with the File Transfer Manager. Choose Window File Transfers (or press Option- -L) to pop open an all-in-one document delivery monitor. Tip: If you've opened the Participants drawer, you can drag files from the Finder onto individual participants' names in this drawer to send files directly to them.
  4. • Get Info on someone. If you click a name in your Buddy list, and then choose Buddies Show Info (or Control-click someone's name and choose Show Info from the shortcut menu), you get a little Info window about your buddy, where you can edit her name, email address, and picture. (If you change the picture here, you'll see it instead of the graphic your buddy chose for herself.) If you choose Actions from the Show pop-up menu at this point, you can make iChat react when this particular buddy logs in, logs out, or changes status—for example, by playing a sound or saying, "She's here! She's here!" • Send an Instant Message. Not everything in a chat session has to be "heard" by all participants. If you choose Buddies Send Instant Message, you get a private chat window, where you can "whisper" something directly to a special someone behind the other chatters' backs. GEM IN THE ROUGH The Chat Transcript Every now and then, you'll wish you could preserve a chat for all time—a particularly meaningful conversation with a friend, lover, or customer-service agent. On the iChat Preferences Messages panel, you can turn on "Automatically save chat transcripts." From now on, the text of your conversations is automatically saved in your Home Documents iChats folder. To view a chat later, double-click its icon. It opens within iChat, compete with all colors and formatting. Even if you don't turn on this "Automatically" checkbox, you can save individual chats in progress by choosing File Save a Copy As. • • Send a Secure Message. Fellow .Mac members can engage in encrypted chats that keep the conversation strictly between participants. If you didn't turn on encrypted chats when you set up your .Mac account in iChat, choose iChat Preferences Accounts Security, and then click Encrypt.
  5. • Send Email. If someone messages you, "Hey, will you email me directions? "you can do so on the spot by choosing Buddies Send Email. Your email program opens up automatically so you can send the note along; if your buddy's email address is part of his Address Book info, the message is preaddressed. • Send an SMS message to a cellphone. If you're using an AIM screen name or .Mac account, you can send text messages directly to your friends' cellphones (in the United States, anyway). Choose File Send SMS. In the box that pops up, type the full cellphone number, without punctuation, like this: 2125551212. Press Enter to return to the chat window. Type a very short message (a couple of sentences, tops), and then press Enter. Tip: If iChat rudely informs you that your own privacy settings prevent you from contacting "this person," choose iChat Preferences, click Accounts, click your chat account, and turn on "Allow anyone." Obviously, you can't carry on much of an interactive conversation this way. The only response you get is from AOL's computers, letting you know that your message has been sent. But what a great way to shoot a "Call me!" or "Running late—see you tonight!" or "Turn on channel 4 right now!!!" message to someone's phone. On the other hand, if you're going to be away from your Mac for a few hours, you can have iChat forward incoming chat messages to your cellphone. Choose iChat Preferences Accounts and click Configure AIM Mobile Forwarding. In the resulting window, fill in your own cellphone number, so the incoming messages know where to go. Just remember that some wireless carriers charge you by the message. So if a lot of buddies are constantly pinging you, you may want to switch to a plan with more (or unlimited) SMS messages each month. 21.7.2. Popping the Balloons The words you might have for iChat's word-balloon design might be "cute" and "distinctive." But it's equally likely that your choice of words includes "juvenile" and "annoying."
  6. Fortunately, behind iChat's candy coating are enough options tucked away in the View menu that you'll certainly find one that works for you (see Figure 21-7). You can even change iChat's white background to any image using View Set Chat Background. Better yet, find a picture you like and drag it into your chat window; iChat immediately makes it the background of your chat. To get rid of the background and revert to soothing white, choose View Clear Chat Background.
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