How do I get started with America Online's AIM service?
My kids are constantly harassing me about being able to chat with them via instant message, via "AIM". What's AIM and how do I get started?
AIM is America Online (AOL)'s Instant Messaging system, commonly referred to as "AIM". It's also the instant message system underlying Apple's iChat system too, actually, and it's so easy to get started that you should be chatting with your kids in just minutes.
The first step, whether you're a Mac or PC user, is to go to AOL's AIM site, which you can find at aim.com, and download the right version for your system. Since you're starting from scratch, I'd suggest you install AIM 6.1 if you're on Windows, or AIM for Macintosh if you're, well, on a Mac and don't want to use iChat. Note also while you're there that they have a localized version of the AIM application in Spanish too. Una idea bien!
Once that's downloaded, go ahead and install the application on your computer. It'll look like this:
Once you start the application - post-install - you'll find that it asks if you have an existing AOL account or AIM screen name. If you don't, indicate so:
It'll zip you over to an AIM web page to set up your new screen name:
Choose a name that's fun and unusual. Guaranteed "jane" or "susie" is going to be taken, but "FunkyMama007" might be available, as might "MadreDeMontana" or similar. AIM can also suggest names if you're stuck - it just adds a few random digits on the end, so if "jane4342" works for you, it's easy to do.
Then sign up and get your account and password into the system. Now flip back to the AIM application itself and sign in. The signin window looks like this:
Enter your password, click "Sign On" and you'll be logged in. Since you have no AIM friends as of yet your Buddy List window will be empty. Nothing to panic about!
Look at the menu list on the top and choose People --> Send an Instant Message...:
Choose that and you'll now be able to type in the "chat handle" of your kids or friends:
Ready? Now just type in the message you want to send them in the box on the bottom of that little window and click "Send". Then you'll see their commentary to you in the same window, a fun and entertaining back-and-forth!
On Windows things don't look quite the same, but you should be able to figure out the steps required to get to sending an IM to someone too.
In any case, this should get you up and running, chatting away with your children in no time. :-)
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