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Mac 101: Using iChat with AIM Blasts

More Mac 101, our ongoing series of tips and tricks for new and returning Mac users. If you're an iChat user with a need for immediate attention, AIM Blasts makes it easy to add social networking groups to iChat.

When you want to have a conversation with a group of people, blasts let you IM everyone in your selected group at once, without having to invite them to a special chat room. For example, you might have friend groups, work groups, or, thinking of Scott McNulty, your special D&D buddies. MobileMe users can take advantage of AIM blasts, since all .Mac and MM users are automatically AIM users as well. Just log in to AIM.com as yourname@me.com (or mac.com) -- you'll be able to take advantage of all of AOL's instant-messaging hospitality.

You don't set up your blast in iChat. Instead, point your browser at blast.aim.com. There, you'll be able to invite your friends and establish your new group. All joining and messaging is done from inside iChat itself. Blast groups appear in iChat as a separate group in your Buddies list -- scroll down in the buddy list if you have trouble finding your blast groups. It may help to give them names that are distinct from any buddy groups you already have, or perhaps prefix your blast groups with a "B-" to help them stand out.

When setting up your blast group, you decide whether all members or only admins (i.e., you) can send messages and/or invitations. Blast recipients have to accept your invite to be part of a blast group, so you may want to give them a heads-up in advance (especially if your blast group's name is obscure or edgy).

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