A big hello and iChat video

Happy New Year and a big hello to everyone reading this!

I’m Suki, nutcase and latest addition the Maciverse team. It’s a time for new beginnings, and there’s no better way to start the year than to blog about the greatest product I have ever come across – the new Snow Leopard Macbook I bought last month. I’m constantly discovering new and beautiful little touches; every time I notice one, I’m heartily thankful to Apple for bringing out this no-frills, high-functionality update.

Every time I notice the little changes on my system, I just HAVE to tell someone. What’s a better way to communicate than to do it via video?

Quite predictably, the only people willing to hear me gush are fellow Mac owners – who often have a lot of gushing to do themselves. When this is the case, we simply enter into an iChat video conversation. Fast, simple, and with more functionality than any video chat clients can offer.

Here’s how you do it.

First, fire up iChat. You can do this by clicking on the blue speech bubble icon in your Dock, or by launching iChat from Spotlight.

Second, set up your instant messaging account. For iChat video to work, all members of the conversation need to be on the same chat protocol – Jabber/XMPP/Google Talk, Yahoo, MSN, AIM… it really doesn’t matter which.

NOTE: iChat is also compatible with the AIM chat client. So for Mac-to-PC chats, this is a convenient way out.

Once you’ve configured your account with iChat, you’re ready to begin. Most Macs have inbuilt iSight cameras and microphones, so you won’t need to bother with pesky webcams or such things.

Drag your pointer until it’s hovering over the name of the person you want to chat with. Two-finger click there(equivalent to right-clicking on Windows), and hit “Invite to Video chat”. Warning – make sure you’re dressed suitably and that your room won’t make your chat-buddy faint.

That’s it. You will see a window pop up, showing you your own face and informing you that you are waiting for your buddy to accept. Once your buddy accepts the invite, you’re all set.

You will see an image of yourself on a corner of the video chat window. This image can be moved to any of the four corners – just click and drag it. Below the chat window, you will also see an “effects” button and three icons. The plus sign on the left lets you add more people to the chat, the microphone in the middle lets you mute, while the diagonal arrows let you switch to full screen mode.

On full screen, you can see all these options by moving your pointer across the screen. However(in Snow Leopard at least), the “effects” button in the window is replaced by a swirly button that is between the mute and fullscreen toggle buttons. The effects are the same as your Photo Booth effects, and only work on the display from your camera.

You can end the video chat at any time by hitting the “X” on the full screen chat, or by two-finger clicking to “End this video conversation”.

iChat is not used by most people, as they prefer the greater features of programs like Adium. However, remember not to ignore the simplest, most compatible option at hand – it is always, always useful.