How to set up and start using iMessage in Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Now that you've updated your Mac to OS X Mountain Lion it's time to start checking out some of the new features. iMessage now comes stock in Mountain Lion and makes it easier than ever to stay in contact with the people that matter most across your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and now, your Mac.

iMessage in OS X Mountain Lion lets you pick up conversations on your Mac right where you left off on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The best part is it's completely free and will work with anyone who has iMessage activated on their iOS or OS X devices.

How to setup iMessage

If you signed into your iCloud account when you installed OS X Mountain Lion, you're probably already signed in and good to go so just skip this step. If you need to sign in manually, you can do so by following these steps:

  1. First start by opening iMessage in your dock. The icon consists of blue and white chat bubbles.
  2. iMessage for Mac icon
  3. If you have never signed into iMessage with an Apple ID you'll be prompted to do so upon first launch. Just type in your Apple ID credentials and submit them.
  4. That's it. You're good to go to start using iMessage.

How to send an iMessage on your Mac

  1. Open up iMessage in your dock. The icon consists of blue and white chat bubbles.
  2. iMessage for Mac icon
  3. Click the new message button to the right of the search field.
  4. Start typing the name of the person in your address book that you'd like to iMessage. You'll notice that some names have blue bubbles next to them and some won't. The ones that do are addresses that you can send iMessages to because they are either Apple ID's or phone numbers associated with an iPhone with iMessage enabled.
  5. iMessage for Mac create a new message
  6. Once you've selected the person you'd like to send a message to, just type out your message and hit send. You're done!
  7. iMessage for Mac conversation window

How to add other IM accounts to iMessage on your Mac

Now that iMessage is replacing iChat in Mac OS X, you may be wondering how to send instant messages without having to download another third party application. iMessage will give you the ability natively just like iChat did.

  1. Open iMessage and from the top menu go to Messages and then Preferences.
  2. iMessage for Mac preferences
  3. Click on the Accounts tab along the top.
  4. iMessage for Mac add other accounts
  5. Now click on the plus sign in the accounts pain on the bottom left. You can choose from AIM, Jabber, Google Talk, and Yahoo. Select the IM account type you want to add and enter your credentials.
  6. iMessage for Mac add IM accounts
  7. That's it. iMessage will now allow you to send and receive messages from your instant messenger services as well.

Enabling iMessage on your other Macs and iOS devices

How to set up iMessage on your other Macs and iOS devices

To set up iMessage on other Macs in your house, just follow the same steps above. If you've got iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches, you can also set them up to use iMessage as long as you're running iOS 5 or later. You can check out our guides for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch as well if you need help.

Get more help with iMessage

If you need more help setting up or using other features of iMessage, check out our other tutorials via the links below. If you have questions, our iMore forums are a great place to ask for help as well.