Friday is full of tradition at Mac360, including reviews of free software for your Mac. I’m a big fan of iChat and use it to keep in touch with family and friends.
Apple’s iChat, included in Mac OS X Leopard, and newly featurized, is almost perfect. Add Chax and iChat perfection is even closer.
It’s not that there’s much that’s wrong with iChat these days. That’s especially true if you have a new Intel MacBook or MacBook Pro or iMac with iSight camera built in.
The worst thing about iChat is that it’s Mac only, but even then iChat does chat in a variety of protocols which work fine for Windows PC users. But chat is chat. The real gems inside iChat are audio and video.
There’s so much that can be done in iChat these days besides just typing with someone else. That’s a slow form of communication, but I’m still surprised at how many people love it and keep iChat open and running all the time.
Chax is one of those simple, but elegant add-on utilities which does more than the sum of its parts. The latest version of Chax is specifically for Leopard users.
What you get with a Chax install is a handy list of features not available in iChat. For example, all your contacts will show up in a unified contact list. Think of it as a mix and match buddy list feature.
The contact list can be resized to fit the number of visible users. There’s a built in log viewer and an activity log so you can see the status of those on your buddy lists.
My favorite feature is the auto-accept for file transfers and audio/video chats, as well as screen sharing requests. I use those for family members I trust so I can send them files, or automatically log in and use screen sharing to troubleshoot their Macs.
Chax is really a list of customization features that Apple may have thought of but haven’t implemented. Yet.
For example, there’s a notification for the number of unread messages which now shows up in the Dock. You can set the contact list, the message windows, and AV chats to be always on top, therefore, always ready to use and within quick view.
Chax is free which is why it gets on today’s list of Friday Freebies.
iChat is about as easy to use as any chat, audio, or video application can be, and the Leopard version has a number of professional features such as video effects, and the new video backdrops.
My question is, how many Mac users really use iChat, whether for chatting, audio phone calls, or video conferencing? I ask because most of those that I caht with online are family or friends and I had to help them set up iChat and connect. Chax makes it easier for me to work on iChat.
What about you? Do you use iChat? If so, why? Which components are most used—chat, audio, video? Talk Back to Mac360 and share with our readers in the Comments section below.