MacMost Now 113: Using iChat with a Free AIM Account

Gary Rosenzweig shows you how to sign up for a free AOL Instant Messenger account that you can use with iChat on your Mac.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 113: Using iChat with a Free AIM Account.

Hi. This is Gary. You know, I get asked a lot about iChat. It seems to use iChat you need to have an account with something, either AOL or dot Mac or something like that. And that's true but you don't have to pay for it. If you want you can sign up for an AOL Instant Messenger account for free and use that with iChat. Let me show you how on this episode of MacMost Now.
So there are actually five different ways to chat with iChat. The first is to use Bonjour which is the internal networking inside your company or home and you can set up iChat up for that. But if you want to chat to everybody else on the Internet you're going to have to use one of four different methods. One is a dot Mac account which of course costs an annual fee. Another one is to use AOL Instant Messenger which is free. Also free are Jabber and Google Talk accounts. Let's go ahead and look at how to set up an AOL Instant Messenger account because it's the one it seems you can set it up without having to set up a whole other account. Now if you already have a Google account you can already use that as your Google Talk interface to iChat. So you're already set. Same thing for Jabber. But if you want to do AOL here's a quick way to set it up.
So to create an AOL Instant Messenger screen name all you need to do is go to and it will redirect you to a page where you can go ahead and install the AOL Instant Messenger. That's not what we want to do. We want to click over here at the first tab and click on get a screen name. That'll take us to another window that will allow us to create an account and we go ahead and fill out this form. And there we go. We've got a screen name here that we can go ahead and use and remember the password. Okay, so now over to iChat. To launch iChat you go to the iChat preferences window, you come up with a window like this and you click on accounts and click on the plus sign at the bottom left. And you can go ahead and add one of the different type of accounts. So add AIM account, which stands for AOL Instant Messenger, type your new screen and password and then type done. Now it'll go ahead and log you on there with AOL Instant Messenger. Now you can go ahead and tell all your friends your i.d. at AOL Instant Messenger and they can chat with you using AOL Instant Messenger, using iChat or using any system compatible with AOL Instant Messenger which is a lot. And likewise if you sign up for Google or Jabber you can chat on those systems as well as chatting on iChat.
Now one of the coolest things about iChat is the ability to use video and audio chat. Audio makes the chat just like a phone call and video makes it like, well, just like a video phone call. So you can do this using the AOL Instant Messenger account and you can actually do it with somebody who's on AOL as well as somebody else that has a Mac with iChat. It's really easy to get two Macs hooked up and video chatting between them. It's a little bit harder to get a Mac talking with a non-Mac but it's doable and I've done it before. So check out those features now that you have a AIM account or Google account or Jabber account and go ahead and see if instant messenging is for you.
Until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.