Hands on with Apple’s New Mac Messages App – How iPad-Like is it?

When I heard about the new Messages app that would be included in the next version of OS X, Mountain Lion, I was excited, especially since a beta version was made available.

I’ve been using Messages on my MacBook Air since last night, and so far, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with it. The program itself replaces iChat, but includes much of the same functionality (AIM, Google Talk, and Bonjour included), plus the ability to send messages to people using our Apple IDs, like how we use Messages on our iPads.

If you’re not familiar with Messages, it’s an app that allows you to send unlimited iMessages to any iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Mac. You can start a conversation on your iPad, and continue it on your iPhone or Mac. You can also use the service to send photos, videos, files, and more.

Visually, the interface of Mac Messages is exactly like Messages on the iPad. There’s a left hand bar that has a list of all your open chats, which are displayed in their entirety on the right hand side of the window. You can open a video chat or a FaceTime chat using the icon in the top right corner.

Tapping the new message button allows you to address a message to anyone in your contact book (presumably synced between all of your devices), so getting in touch with someone is now a simple task no matter what platform you’re using.

It’s handy to have all of my chat accounts in one place, including both AIM and Google Talk, and that’s functionality that would be great to eventually have on the iPad and the iPhone. The one thing I’m missing from Messages on Mac is the ability to delete messages, which is one thing I haven’t quite figured out how to do.

So far, Messages is a great alternative to iChat, and if it’s a service you regularly use, I’d suggest giving the beta a try. You need the latest version of OS X installed, 10.7.3, and then you can download the app from Apple’s website.

About Juli: Contact me via Twitter: @julipuli

  • jamieflanagan

    For deleting individual messages, I haven’t found a way but if you right click on the chat field, the last option is Clear Chat Transcript.

    • Juli Clover

      Awesome, thanks for the tip!


      But if you quit the app, open it again and message the same account the history pops up again :(

      • Juli Clover

        Ah, it does that for me too. I guess that doesn’t quite work. I did find a way to permanently delete messages, though it’s a bit more work. You’ll have to go your documents folder, which has an iChats folder that saves the transcripts. You can delete them from there, but it’s irritating not to have a way to turn chat logging off to begin with.

  • Froggage

    The only thing that I don’t like about it is that when you log in to Messages, it automatically changes your status on Google chat from “unavailable” or “invisible” to “available,” and you also don’t have the ability to set custom status messages.

  • http://twitter.com/Yaasky iGravity™

    Does your Messages.app work with Bonjour? If so, how did you get it setup? This is my first time attempting to chat over the Bonjour service.

  • Slmkh

    For no apparent reason my ipad messages types in bold print. Then the message will not send….oh wait! It will send if I add a photo. There must be some way to turn off the bold when I type a message but I don’t know what it is. Other times when I message it types in standard not bold type.

    • http://www.sacramaniacs.com/ Lory Gil

      Try restarting your iPad. If that doesn’t work, try resetting it through iTunes.