Hands on with Messages for Mac beta

We are all familiar with Messages for iPhone and iPad and now Apple has brought Messages to the Mac. Messages for Mac is technically in beta, but it's a public beta which means if you're running OS X 10.7 Lion or the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, you can download it now and give it a try.

If you use Messages on the iPhone or iPad, then you already know how to use Messages on the Mac. In fact, messages for the Mac is nearly identical to the iPad version.

Messages on all your devices is a fantastic idea, however it still needs some work. Namely, when someone sends you a message, a notification is sent to all of your devices. This would be fine for the first message, but even if you are actively using Messages on your Mac, your iPhone and iPad will continue to beep and chirp with every new message that comes in. This gets extremely annoying very fast. Apple needs to figure out a way to recognize which device you are actively using and disable notifications to all other devices. I'll be honest, I won't be using messages on the Mac very often with its current design. The experience is and maddening.

That's not to say it isn't a good start, though. Messages for Mac is technically in beta, so hopefully Apple will make some changes before the final release.

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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There are 19 comments. Add yours.

Dev says:

This is a solved problem on Jabber - the first message goes to one device, then it is pinned to whatever device responds.
Apple also needs to unify the phone/email address split - it is just a bad idea. Some of my friends dont have iphones, and the rest of them don't want to guess which device to check. Until Apple takes care of that routing for us (or somehow puts the person, not the device, first, a la Google Voice), iMessage will remain clunky.

Dev says:

Grr of course that should read "the first message goes to all devices, then it is pinned to whatever device responds."

myPhone says:

I agree and have the same problem. Unless someone knows to “text” your AppleID email address rather than your phone number then the messages do not show up on your other iOS devices. I don’t understand why this doesn’t work though. In the iMessage settings on the iPhone you can have your phone number AND AppleID. To me that should say the phone number = that AppleID and put the messages on the iPad even if someone sends an iMessage to your phone number. I’m an Apple fan, but this was poorly implemented and needs to be fixed. Hopefully iOS 5.1.

pr_boy08 says:

I like the pinning idea but what happens when I'm on my Mac using messages but then leave the house? If its pinned to my Mac and it goes there not alerting me on my iPhone whenever I leave. It's a good idea but still needs to iron the kinks out.

Dev says:

Pinning-with-timeout. If a conversation is not "closed," then it will expire can go back to the general state, where all devices are pinged, if there is no activity for X minutes.

Barry F says:

Is anyone having issues with being able to log into the app? I've tried several times and it just keeps clocking, to no avail!

easton022 says:

Did you check your butt?

me says:

sheesh, you're a tool.

CrzyP says:

sounds like the pin on a blackberry isn't a bad idea after all.

IamJAd says:

Oh, it is great... Until you want to change Blackberries, then all your contacts need to be contacted and updated. Have a glitch with your new phone? You get to do it again.
No, it's better to put your phone number in your Apple ID account, and let the system route messages to whatever devices you are using.

Wayne says:

Not sure what you mean by clunky. And I read somewhere that you could get all your imessage converstions loaded into the Mac version?

Leanna Lofte says:

Yeah, clunky wasn't really the right word. I'm gonna edit that out.

Chaz Livezey says:

You can double click the chat on from the left column and it brings your chat out into a separate window. Not sure if anyone cares, I just thought I would share haha.

George says:

Seems to me that if you could select the level of notification for each device that would fix it. For many a simple counter on the icon and control the level of 'noise' associated with that notification would make everyone happy.

dazwontwin says:

Is everybody stuck in "offline" like I am? It seems to work regardless just assumed it was something to do with it being a beta. Mine doesn't seem to send me a notification to my phone when I have my mac open as well.

YoungKevin says:

I can't seem to get iMessage working. Google Talk and bonjour work correctly but when I send an iMessage i get the red exclamation mark. Anybody else having this problem?

Amish says:

Installes messages beta and working fine.
Can anyone tell me how to attach images on messages (on Mac).
Also as discussed in above comments I'm only receiving msgs on my Mac and not on my phone, though my phone also has same apple id installed

striatic says:

app crashes every time i launch it, which is bad but even worse because people send messages to it that i then miss because they don't go to my phone.
.. and there is no way to remedy this.
disgraceful performance, even for a beta.

Igor says:

The easiest way is to plug in with USB and sync via iTunes. Or if you don't like iTunes, you could siltanl the Dropbox app on both your mac and iPad and sync that way.