Posted by TJ on 2/16/2012Tags: OS X, Reviews, Software I UseMessages for Mac

Messages for Mac Beta debuted today. You can download it here in case you missed the link I posted earlier today.

I was definitely hopping for something like this so I am relatively excited. I downloaded the beta first thing this morning and installed it.

Messages completely replaces iChat. All the functionality of iChat is still there, but de-emphasized. When you first start messages, you are asked to enter your Apple ID for for iMessages. If you have set up your iPhone (or iPad) properly 1 as I have done, messages will now come to all your devices, now including your Mac. It’s a beautiful thing. No more irritating and frequent IM disconnects (I’m looking at you Google Talk), no more not being unable to reach my wife because her phone is tucked away somewhere and her Gtalk account has inexplicably disconnected, no more buddy list management. Just messaging, everywhere.

I should clarify, all the previously supported IM protocols are still supported, and you can still access those buddy lists. But the main window of the new Messages app looks a little something like this:


And while you can access the buddy list(s) for your IM accounts, it is not necessary. If you want to message someone, and they aren’t currently in your conversation list, you can click the little button up on the left to start a new conversation, start typing their name, press enter as soon as they show up and start messaging. This is clearly the way, in my opinion a messaging app should be designed.

This being a beta, the app is not without bugs, but I found that the bugs have not affected usability. Basically, it just seemed like things jumped around a little randomly once in a while.

This is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for — an integrated messaging app with one integrated window of conversations and conversation sync between devices — and I think Apple nailed it.

  1. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the default iMessage set up on an iPhone is this way, but it does not automatically associate itself with your Apple ID for iMessages. Instead, it associates itself with your iPhone’s phone number. You must go into ”iPhone Settings > Messages > Receive At“ and make sure your Apple ID is entered there. Then go into “Caller ID” and change it to your Apple ID. Only after doing this will you be able to receive your iMessages, via your Apple ID, at all your devices. It’s very un-Apple like and I hope they fix this in the future.