IANYG (I Am Not Your Grandma) but explain it to me like I'm 95!
November 7, 2017 2:31 PM   Subscribe

My sister and I use AIM to keep an intermittent chat going all day. Since AOL announced that AIM is ending December 15th, we need help finding a replacement.

I looked at past Asks and this question hasn't been asked since 2014 so maybe there will be different options now. We are NOT on Facebook or Twitter. We don't have smartphones, just older Macs running OS 10.6 and 10.8.

It's just the two of us on Macs. We would like something free and dead simple to use. We use AIM, but don't run it on the AOL software. (we use iChat or Messages) so we don't need a substitute for iChat/Messages, just the interface (like AIM) to run on it. Any ideas?

The main thing is that it needs to be very easy to understand. My old brain and terrible eyesight makes it very difficult for me to do research. We don't need a complicated cross platform many-user business solution, just an easy to use way for us to chat. Is there anything as simple as AIM? Thanks!
posted by a humble nudibranch to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(we use iChat or Messages) so we don't need a substitute for iChat/Messages, just the interface (like AIM) to run on it.
I guess I am not understanding the question at all. You use Messages already, so why not just continue to use it? If you two are already both on Macs, the only way it differs from AIM is the look of the interface. I use it like a chat programme all the time anyway.
posted by Brockles at 2:43 PM on November 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

The best choice would probably to just use iChat/Messages directly. That will give you basically the same interface you use for AIM right now. You'll just be able to send messages directly to whatever email address is associated with your sister's Apple ID. This will go over Apple's messaging network, not AIM, but the actual experience is essentially the same.

The catch is that I believe this wasn't available in 10.6. Whoever uses 10.6 would need to upgrade, which they really should be doing anyway (see below).

I should also point out that neither Mac OS 10.6 and 10.8 are receiving security updates anymore and are vulnerable to all kinds of known security vulnerabilities.
posted by zachlipton at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think the confusion here is that iChat/Messages is already the thing that most people would refer as the interface, whereas AIM is just the account that iChat/Messages uses to identify you. Imagine it like the postal service: you'll still be using USPS to send your mail; the only thing that will be changing is where you tell them to send your letters.

In this case, Messages already uses Apple ID as their default account system, so I expect you could move over to that and have no real difference of experience. Apple ID is associated with whatever email address you give them, and so instead of sending messages your sister's AIM address, you'll send messages to the email address associated with her Apple ID.

I'm not sure what exactly is going on with 10.6/10.8 or iChat, but at least in the current Messages app, you would either go to Messages>Add new account or Messages>Preferences>Accounts and then add a new Apple ID account (which would be the same account you use to buy things in iTunes.)

If you don't have an Apple ID account, then you can sign up for one here.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 2:54 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

It may be worth checking to see if you're both already on iCloud/MobileMe (as it used to be called). If you go into System Preferences, there should be an icon for either iCloud (10.8) or MobileMe (10.6) - if you go into that you should be able to see if you're signed in with the appropriate Apple ID (i.e. the one for the person that uses that computer). If the computers are signed in, you ought to be able then to go to Messages and see if that is listed in there as an account under Accounts. If it is, you can just start using each other's Apple IDs (it'll be an email address) to message back and forth, and you should be able to just turn off the AIM account.

(I was about to say "why not just use the Apple iCloud nonsense you get for free anyway?" but evidently it's not supported on 10.6 any more. If you can upgrade to at least 10.7 on that system, it would help, but it depends on how old the machine is; 10.7 killed support for a good number of systems.)

If this doesn't work, then go sign up for Gmail accounts, which will get you access to Google Talk or whatever it is they're calling it these days. Messages is compatible with this - you'd just go into Messages, hit Preferences, then Accounts, and add it as you would anything else. There should be a specific option for Google/Gmail/etc. in there too.
posted by mrg at 2:54 PM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

You might see if Slack works for your chatting needs. We use it on our computers here at work.
posted by jennstra at 3:09 PM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

My wife and I use Jabber/XMPP via the Adium app to chat throughout the day. Adium has the advantage of having a relatively small footprint on the screen compared to the monster window Apple's Messages uses.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:10 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just use iMessages (the app which is literally called Messages) and sign in with your Apple IDs instead of the AIM account. Add each other's Apple IDs to your Contacts and you should be totally fine. Bonus this carries over easily to any device where you've signed in with the same Apple ID, so picking up a conversation from your phone on your Desktop and vice versa is very simple.
posted by odinsdream at 4:15 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm the one on 10.6 and have been leery of updating since some of my software won't run on newer versions. I will have to look deeper into how many system upgrades I can move forward without losing the use of my software.

We do both have Apple IDs but are not on iCloud/MobileMe and neither of us have phones. I will have to upgrade to at least 10.7 to use Messages so I guess that will be my next step. After I update, I'll probably come back and either let y'all know your suggestions worked or how much I am in over my head. Thanks for the advice.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:21 PM on November 7, 2017

Are you looking for something like Google Hangouts? If I'm at my computer I stay logged into my Gmail account to use hangout messaging rather than get my cell phone out (especially if I am at work). All you need is a free account.
posted by Katie8709 at 10:20 PM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I keep my Gmail open in a tab almost all day and people chat with me via gchat. Super simple, no installation, just use your browser (maybe Chrome specific, I don't know, I only use Chrome and I'm on a Mac).
posted by like_neon at 2:06 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Probably skype online would be an easy substitute, you'd both need to sign up for (free) accounts but then it would be simple to just stay signed in all the time and swap messages.
posted by london explorer girl at 3:26 AM on November 8, 2017

Another vote for GChat/Hangouts; I chat with my brother most days on it, since we both typically have our gmail open anyway to keep an eye on. We started the habit a while back, and even when he was on a project that put him on a computer with limited connectivity, he just spent those few weeks chatting from his phone instead, and the transition was seamless. I've used it as easily on Safari in OSX as I have on Chrome in Windows.
posted by solotoro at 4:35 AM on November 8, 2017

Messages doesn't require iCloud, just an Apple ID, which is free, and can be your regular email address.
posted by odinsdream at 5:42 AM on November 8, 2017

I use Google Hangouts every day for exactly this reason, the same way that I used to use the AIM client back in college. It's always there hanging out in a tab/app and people drop in and out as they have the time/inclination.
posted by oblique red at 12:51 PM on November 8, 2017

my one aim friend and I didn't know what we'd do either with the demise of aim; we settled on using discord for this kind of chatting; I use pidgin to access my account and she uses the discord interface because she's a big gamer girl.
posted by lemniskate at 4:50 PM on November 19, 2017

I was delighted to find out that iChat and Messages both work with Jabber and we are back to happily IMing on 10.6.8.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:58 PM on December 11, 2017

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