iChat: Multiple Accounts, One Contact List

Nov 2011 OSX Lion Update: Chax does not currently work in Lion. The main reason I used Chax was to consolidate contact lists across IM services, which is now included in the new version of iChat. The other thing I really liked about Chax was Growl notifications. iChat should support Growl, but it currently doesn’t. Fortunately @piquan has that covered with an easy to install AppleScript.

Chax 3.0 icon
Chax 3.0

Chax comes to Snow Leopard

A while back I came across Chax, a great little add on for iChat that, among other things, allowed me to consolidate my AIM and Google Talk accounts into a single contact window. It’s never made sense to have separate lists for each account, so this little gem made iChat more useable, and ultimately allowed me to stick with it rather than using an alternative application such as Adium (I prefer iChat over Adium for the screen sharing feature).

When Snow Leopard came out a few weeks ago, iChat surprisingly reverted to it’s multi-window ways. Chax had installed as a preference pane option in Leopard, and it was simply gone. The reason why gets into 32-bit vs 64-bit stuff so here’s Kent Sutherland, Chax developer:

As many people have already found out, Input Managers do not load into 64-bit applications. They still function in 32-bit mode, but forcing everyone into 32-bit is obviously a subpar solution. Instead of using a passive system such as Input Managers, I’ve switched to using an application loader. This change has its pros and cons, but I believe this is the best solution for now.

Since iChat in Snow Leopard is a 64-bit application, the preference pane option doesn’t work and Kent chose to build a stand alone application instead. Great, let’s get it up and running!


  1. The first thing to do is to download Chax 3.0. Kent has been updating frequently, so grab the latest version, which as of this writing is Alpha 4.
  2. Once the Disk Image mounts, drag Chax.app to the Applications folder.
  3. If you have iChat running, quit it and drag the icon off the Dock (if it’s there).
  4. Launch Chax.
  5. As Chax launches, you’ll notice it’s icon will change to the iChat icon. If you’d like it in your dock, drag it to your preferred postion. You can also right click and under Options, choose ‘Keep in Dock.’
  6. Open the preference panel, choose Chax, and you’ll find this beauty:
    Use All Contacts window as primary contact list
  7. If iChat is a login item, open System Preferences › Accounts › Login Items, add Chax and delete iChat. (This step may or may not be necessary).

A big thanks to Kent and his solid work on Chax. If you like it, be sure to donate. Happy Chatting!

11 thoughts on “iChat: Multiple Accounts, One Contact List

  1. This looks like a really good app. Does it feel like a worthy mac app? Do you know if it will pull in facebook chat? The facebook chat through adium is the only thing holding me on to it.

    I\’ll have to look more into it.

    1. It\’s more of an iChat add on than a stand alone application. So for being Mac like, it\’s just iChat, souped-up a bit.

      Is there an app that can access Facebook chat? I don\’t chat much on FB, but it would be interesting to know if such a thing exists.

  2. That\’s cool. I think I\’m going to have to try it out.

    Adium pulls in Facebook chat which is the only thing that encourages me to use it because I can actually see when people have replied otherwise its only useful if your looking around on Facebook and someone catches you there.

  3. Great article! I just found it through Google in search of how to open the Chax list if I click on the iChat dock icon. I can\’t believe I overlooked that setting earlier.

    I\’ve just got one question. When logging in iChat still opens the first list (AIM in my case) and not the awesome unified Chax one. I believe this can be fixed with what you mention at the end there, adding Chax to the list of login items instead of iChat. Just how do I do that? Chax doesn\’t appear anywhere as a standalone application. How do I add it to the list of login items?
    I hope there\’s still someone reading this post/getting notified with new comments. The last one is already a while back 😉

  4. I just checked my log in items and Chax isn\’t there… So I don\’t think that item is applicable any more.

    If you\’ve made sure that the \’Use al Contacts\’ window is checked in the Chax tab then I\’m not sure what could be causing your issue. I sometimes run into problems with the wrong contact window opening up – but quitting iChat and restarting it usually clears it up.

    1. Thanks for the reply. I guess I\’ll just live with it then, but keeping a note open in my todo list checking up on that every now and then. Maybe I\’ll run into a solution one day.

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