Apple OS X Lion: Install the Free Messages Beta Now

Apple surprised the tech community on Thursday when it announced the new OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion update. The company also released the Free Messages Beta. This will be one of the new apps included in OS X Mountain Lion. If you’re an early adopter, here’s how to start using it now.

Note: Keep in mind this is beta software, so if you install it, expect some bugs.

First, make sure you’re running the latest version of OS X Lion — 10.7.3. Messages will not install unless you have the latest version installed.

Next download the free Messages Beta.

After you’ve downloaded the Messages beta, run through the installer. Messages requires a restart of your Mac to complete the install.

After the restart, you’ll find the icon in the dock. Notice the Messages icon looks different from its predecessor.

Launch the Messages beta and enter your Apple ID and password. Click Sign In.

Then choose which email addresses you’d like to use with iMessages. Check out my article on how to create the best setup for iMessages on Apple iOS 5.

If you set up a new email address that hasn’t been used with iMessages an email verification will be sent. Click OK.

Next Choose which chat client you’d like to set up first. Messages supports AIM, Google Talk, Jabber and Yahoo.

Once you’ve selected the account, enter your username and password and click Continue.

Now you’re ready to use Messages. Click Done.

If you’re not able to see your buddy list or Messages window, click Window in the menu bar and select each window from there.

To start a conversation, open the Messages window and start typing a name in the To field. Messages will automatically search through your contacts. Pick the contact you want.

You’ll also notice your buddy list still appears the same as it did in iChat. Double click a contact from there to chat with them in Messages.

I found the alert sounds annoying right away. Adjust them by going to Messages >> Preferences >> Alerts.

Here you can customize what sounds will play and when. Click the drop down menu next to Event to change the alerts for each event.

Turn the sounds off all together in a conversation by going to View  and uncheck Use Alerts In This Conversation in the menu bar.

Now you’re all set to use the new Messages feature, one of the many great features on the way in Mountain Lion. We’ll have more on Messages for you when the final release is made available. Enjoy.



  1. Techno Sage

    February 17, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Wow, Apple added all of the major public IM networks to their new Messages client but seemingly purposefully left out the Windows Live MSN network. Come on Apple, what is the advantage of limiting the communication reach of your new tool?

  2. Brian Burgess

    February 20, 2012 at 12:25 am

    @Techno Sage: Agreed. There are more services it looks like it supports, but all IM clients should be multi protocol like Pidgin.

    No reason why they shouldn’t support all of them.

  3. laura

    February 29, 2012 at 11:07 am

    so can i set up to receive these messages on my phone when not on computer?

  4. kha

    March 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    install fails after authentication. It asks me my password again, then in console, I have an Error from secKeychainItemCreateFromContent.
    The dialog windows waits forever for the wheel to stop turning.
    Any idea ?

  5. Jenny

    July 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    On Apple’s site, it doesn’t allow to download the Mac Messages for freee..I don’t see the button.

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