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Guide: Yahoo Messenger (desktop)

Yahoo Messenger is probably my favorite IM service to use just because of it’s flexibility, features and the fact that it’s not a completely bloated mess yet.  It has some features that other IM’s don’t have, but unfortunately they’re not all supported outside of the main desktop Yahoo Messenger app. Hopefully support for things like alias profiles will become more widely used among Yahoo apps and other IM services.

Yahoo Messenger (desktop app version) is available for Windows and Mac. I assume the Mac features are similar to the Windows app features.  There’s also a web version that has many of the same features, but doesn’t include direct support for alias profiles and may not support everything listed below.

The version used for this writeup is Yahoo Messenger for Windows.

Here is a rundown of what you can do with Yahoo Messenger (desktop version).

Aliases/Alternate Profiles

This feature appears to be unique to Yahoo and it has so much potential that I’m a little surprised that other IM services don’t offer it.  It may just be easier to create a completely separate account rather than mess with aliases, but if you don’t have someone watching over your shoulder, aliases are kind of convenient.

What an ‘alias’ allows you to do is log into your main account, but allow people to IM you using a completely different name.  When you respond, the return IM comes from the alias you received the message on, NOT your main account.  You have to be very careful that you don’t send a message from the wrong alias, so this can be as dangerous as it is useful. Be careful.

Aliases have a profile page, just like your main account.  But they can’t, typically, send or receive emails.  There’s a new feature that allows one alias to receive emails, but I set it up and now I can’t seem to find a way to deactivate it so I can show you what it looks like.  In general, aliases can only send/receive IMs and have a profile page, but otherwise have none of the features of your main account.

To set up an alias, log into your Yahoo account and go to the Yahoo alias/identiy page at https://edit.yahoo.com/identity/manage. It should make you log in again, but from there you’ll see a page like this:

Yahoo Alias Configuration Screenshot

Yahoo Alias Configuration

It appears that you can only have 6 aliases, but that should be plenty.

Audio/Video Chat

In addition to standard text chat, Yahoo IM offers both audio-only and audio/video chat.  This is great for spicing up the cybersex a bit and getting to know someone better before actually meeting them in person.  You can only tell so much from text and if you rely on emails and IMs alone, you could be in for a surprise when you finally go to meet your cyber lover.

The first thing you probably want to do, if you didn’t do it during install, is use Yahoo’s voice and video setup wizard.  It can be found in the Help menu under “Set up Video and Voice”:

Yahoo Desktop Video Voice Setup

Help menu showing Video and Voice Setup wizard option

Yahoo’s tutorials and online help are pretty good about detailing the setup. You may need to refer to your webcam’s specific help site or manual if you have issues with the webcam, but most cams are pretty user friendly these days.

The two easiest ways to initiate a voice chat are either using the buttons on your current chat with someone or right clicking on their username and selecting a chat option.

Yahoo Desktop Audio Voice Buttons

If you're already in chat, audio and voice chat options should appear as buttons

Yahoo Desktop Video Voice Right Click

Right click menu for contacts showing various contact methods

You can also select a contact and pick a chat option from the Action menu:

Yahoo Desktop Action Menu

Yahoo's action menu allows many ways to interact with the selected contact

Or by selecting an option from the info window that pops up when you mouse over a contact:

Yahoo Desktop Contact Mouseover box

You can initiate audio or webcam chat or voice calls from the info box that pops up when you mouse over a contact

Webcam options allow you to control who gets to see your webcam or whether you publicly broadcast that your webcam is active.  You may want to do a little cam2cam withsomeone without letting everyone else know that your cam is active.

Yahoo Desktop Webcam Options

Yahoo Desktop Webcam Options

Yahoo Desktop Webcam Display

Yahoo Messenger webcam display lets you control whether you're broadcasting or not.. also tells you how many people are watching you. The WEBCAM menu has an option to show you who is watching as well.

Stealth and Invisibility

The ability to be logged in and hidden can be very valuable.  Sometimes people are just a little too clingy or chatty and you just want to log in for a minute to check something or send a quick message and don’t want to get bogged down in a length conversation or get messages later saying “why didn’t you talk to me when you were on earlier?”  Invisible modes in IM apps can help avoid a lot of drama.  And, of course, they’re great for avoiding that person who just won’t leave you alone.

Yahoo, I believe, is the only one that will let you have per-contact stealth settings.  This means you can appear online to everyone EXCEPT certain people.. or vice versa, appear offline except for a few select people.

NOTE: If you appear offline to someone, their name should appear in italics but if you have any doubts, right click on the contact and look under the Stealth menu.

You can access stealth mode in a couple different ways:

Yahoo Desktop Stealth Login

When you log in, you can set yourself as invisible immediately

Yahoo Desktop Stealth Login 2

During login, you should see (Invisible to Everyone) if you selected it.. if you don't and you meant to, click cancel before someone sees you!

Yahoo Desktop Stealth Settings

Right click on a contact and select Stealth Settings

Yahoo Desktop Stealth Status

Click on your name and select your 'status', setting it to Invisible to Everyone

Yahoo Desktop Stealth Status 2

You can also set your status through the Messenger menu

Logging and Message Archiving

When it comes to evidence of your sneaking, message archives can probably be the most damning.  You might want to serious consider how much you want to have logged and when you want it purged.

Yahoo Desktop Logging

Yahoo's archive and logging options

Telephone Service/Voice over IP (VoIP)

VoIP is a way of using telephone service over the Internet. This allows you to call traditional landline and cell phone numbers with your computer and an Internet connection.  For matters of safety and keeping your activities secret, this can be very valuable.  For most voice chat, I would just use the voice chat options, but if that’s not an option for whoever you’re contacting and if it’s safe for them to use their everyday phone (or even another VoIP phone number).  Having a throwaway phone number you can use is a great way not to give out your real phone number.  The downside is that it usually costs a little bit of money. Pennies per minute these days, but still costs money that would need to be billed somewhere that may show up on a bank or credit card statement.  That could be additional evidence that you’d have to explain.  Sticking to free IM to IM voice and webcam chat is the best way to go.

Precautions and Tips

  • If you use aliases, always make sure you’re sending from the correct name and don’t expose your main account name (which can be emailed or possibly used to look you up on sites like Facebook, Classmates, etc)
  • Check your stealth settings when you log in and look for usernames in italics indicating that you are invisible to that person
  • Check your message logging options and make sure to clear message archives on anything incriminating
  • Check your webcam options and make sure you don’t have it set to display a message when you’re broadcasting.  Assuming you don’t want everyone on your contact list from seeing “View My Webcam” next to your name.  Maybe you do 🙂  At any rate, you can configure who gets to see your cam automatically and who needs permission.
  • If you get a telephone number and use the Voice Over IP option, make sure you have it billed somewhere discrete.  Maybe use a disposable credit card/gift card you can buy using cash at the local grocery store.

Additional information from source

For more information, check out the following links:

Yahoo Messenger Homepage

Yahoo Messenger Tutorials

Yahoo Telephone Service via jajah.com

December 19, 2010 - 10:03 am Posted by | Guides, Instant Messaging, Yahoo Messenger

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