As Apple finished announcing OS X Mountain Lion
today, they also introduced a multitude of new features that it will encompass. One of the features that have been in vast demand from Mac users is the ability to send iMessages through their Mac – thus Messages for Mac was born. In this information piece we will show you what’s new with Messages for Mac and everything that it includes under-the-hood. If you haven’t already, you can grab the beta edition of Messages for Mac from Apple’s Web site, which we are providing for you in this link
Evident right off the bat, we can grasp that Messages is nothing more than an extension for the classic iChat, which has shipped on Mac OS X 10.7.3 and older for what feels like an eternity. The settings, for the most part, look the same and when you install Messages, it replaces iChat. There are some differences, which you will notice that are necessary for Messages to take the characteristics of iMessage instead of iChat. There is also a FaceTime button added to the top right-hand corner of Messages for Mac. Messages still has all of the functionality of iChat including AOL instant messenger support. From the preferences, you can add as many iMessage accounts, AIM accounts, Jabber accounts, Google Talk accounts, or Yahoo accounts that you wish to. You also have the ability to send your contacts 'read receipts', which are for letting them know that you have received their message – shown by the screenshot below:
From the General section of the Messages application preferences, things get much more interesting. There are a ton of settings here including the ability to pick which application gets you be your default instant messaging application – Messages by default. There are also the options to have a menu bar icon for notifications, make your instant messaging status ‘offline’ when you quit Messages, using shapes instead of colors to indicate your instant messaging status, (good you are colorblind), the ability to have animated pictures for your contact list, a confirmation for sending files for security purposes, the ability to have all of your contacts from every instant messaging client in one large contact list for easy access, and the ability to have your instant messaging status set to away when your computer becomes idle. Under that, you can choose an action for fast user switching, pick a setting for when you return to your computer after being idle, and finally you can pick a folder destination for any files that you accept from your contacts through instant message – Downloads by default. All of these settings are illustrated by the screenshot below:
The Messages subdivision of the application preferences gives you the power to alter the colors of your chat bubbles and your font face and color to something of your choice; you can do this for the messages that you are sending and also for the messages that you are receiving. Also from this section of the application’s preferences, if you choose to save transcripts of your conversations, you can choose where those are saved to – the iChats folder by default. There is furthermore the option to use a keyboard shortcut to bring the Messages application to the front of all of your windows – by default, the command sequence is: ⌥⌘ F1 (option + command + F1). There is also the preference to watch for your name in conversations and to have an auto-reply message if your instant messaging status is set to away and someone messages you. These settings are shown below:
Under the Alerts area of the application preferences, we have the ability to set an action for when we log into the Messages application. By default, the initial option – play a sound, is enabled when you log in. There are also the options to have the icon for Messages bounce in place on the dock when you receive a message, the ability to run an AppleScript script, and the ability to speak announcements with a slider that allows you to adjust the volume to your liking. The Alerts settings are shown below:
The final section of the application preferences has to do with Audio and Video. This area of the preferences allows you to set up a camera for video chatting, which is by default, is your internal camera – whether it be your FaceTime HD camera or your iSight camera; you can use external cameras. The same principles are applied to the microphone and speakers, where the internal microphone and speakers are used by default. The option to set up a Bluetooth sound system is also made available to you. You can even adjust the bandwidth limit of Messages to help keep all computers on your network running at a steady Internet pace. This section of the applications preferences is outlined in the screenshot below:
Taking Messages for a ride ourselves, we have discovered that the response times for your iMessages in the Messages for Mac application are right on par with those of the Messages applications on your iDevices. The application loads up swiftly and has a very easy-to-understand interface. With it, you can send photos, videos, attachments, contacts, locations, and more. What's more is that just like iOS, you can send unlimited messages with emoji support to your friends at no cost and they will appear on all of your devices - Mac OS and iOS. You will also be able to see when your friend is typing, shown by the ellipses. The application even supports the full-screen application mode that Mac OS X Lion shipped with. To install Messages beta on your Mac, you need to be running at least Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3. As soon as OS X Mountain Lion is released this Summer, we expect that Messages will come bundled with it.