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You Don't Have To Use iChat To Video Chat On Your Mac
Video chatting through iChat is a great way to connect with family and friends.Recently, a friend of mine wanted to video chat with his daughter who runs a Windows machine. iChat is Mac only, so he needed another option. He if he could have convinced his daughter to buy a Mac..., but that wasn't going to happen. I suggested that they use Skype. Skype is a great choice. Skype is free and available at www.skype.com.
To get started, you download and install Skype on your machine. Installing is as simple as dragging the program to the Applications folder once the download is open. The second party in the chat will also need to install Skype on his/her computer. When you run Skype for the first time you will set up a user name and password.
Video chatting in Skype is very similar to to iChat. You have a contact/buddy list which you add buddies to and see when they are available. If the person you want to talk with is new to Skype you will need to make sure you add him or her to your list. When someone you want to chat with is available double-click their name. A window will appear for instant messaging. Like iChat, there will be a bunch of icons. In Skype these icons are at the top of the window.
If the person you are chatting with has video chat capabilities the video icon will be darker. This is the icon that looks like a video camera and says "Video" underneath it. Click this icon to initiate the video chat.
After clicking that button the second party will receive a message about video chatting with you. If they say yes, you will see them in a window and they will see you. Unlike iChat, this conversation can be initiated from Mac to Mac, Windows to Windows, and Mac to Windows.
Just as with iChat you don't have to have a built-in camera on your Mac. You can use any third party compatible web cam. Hook this to a USB port on your Mac and the computer and Skype will take care of the rest.
One warning about Skype- While it is heavily used and very popular, it is not the most reliable. People are always complaining about losing their Skype connections (probably from being so popular).
Whether you use Skype, iChat, or another program; video chatting is one of the coolest ways to stay in touch with people across the world, country, or in the house next door. Have fun!
Do you use a different program for video chatting with family and friends? Start a discussion about it in the comments section below.