Two useful iChat 4.0 features

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Here are a couple of basic little iChat features you may not have discovered just yet. I believe both of these features require iChat 4.0, which shipped with OS X 10.5.

The first feature is iChat’s support for the “/me” command from IRC (Internet Relay Chat). If you start an iChat message with /me, then anything you write after that will appear, after your name, in a unique format in the stream.

For example, typing /me thinks morning comes way too early will cause the following to be displayed in my active iChat conversation:

Rob Griffiths thinks morning comes way too early

However, unlike typical iChat messages, what you typed in won’t appear as a normal message; instead it appears like a time stamp, on its own line, centered in the window. This is a great way to interject humorous or sarcastic comments into a conversation, or to make an observation that you’d like to have stand out from the rest of the chat.

As best as I can tell, /me is the only IRC command that iChat supports.

The second iChat feature is the very simple but somewhat hidden capability to find the timestamp on any chat message. iChat will, on its own, stick timestamps into your conversations at various times. But what if you want to know the exact time—to the second, even—that you sent or received a certain message?

To see any given message’s timestamp, simply hover your cursor over any portion of the message (it must be over the text in the message, not the icon next to the message or the box that contains it). In a second or two, a floating tooltip will appear, showing both the date and exact time that particular message was sent or received.

I’m not sure why it might be important to know the exact second at which an iChat message was sent or received, but if you ever do need this information, now you know how to find it.

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