aim

This week's how-to was inspired by a post over on www.boingboing.net regarding sending a SMS from AOL's Instant Messenger. We thought we'd show you how to do this on a Mac or PC with AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). This will also work with the Linux version of AIM, we didn't have time to test on our Xandros box- but there's not reason it wouldn't work.

Why would you want to send Text Messages to your phone, or someone else's phone? Well, since this came out we've been doing this for just about everything. Need to remember an address? IM it to your phone, need directions, grocery list, whatever, if you use IM all day popping off a SMS to yourself is super easy, also if you IM/SMS to someone they can actually reply back, the AIM system keeps track of the IMer and IM/SMSee.

Let's get started. If you haven't already, download and install AIM for your PC or Mac.

If you have a Mac, iChat works the same, so there's no reason to download the standalone AIM application unless you really want to. If you're on a PC, make sure you have the latest version, when you start AIM it will tell you if you have the latest version which is 5.5.

After installing the application (or if you already have it installed, we bet you do) start a new message…

On a PC:


  1. Click People > Send an Instant Message (Alt - I).
    new chat


  2. Type +1 then the area code and phone number. Example +12125555555.
    sending


  3. Make sure to put +1, before the area code and phone number. This will make sure AIM knows it's a USA number (country code). It's not clear if AIM will support international, but it's pretty safe to say it will at some point.

  4. Click send.

  5. On your phone you can reply and chat, or if you're just sending a message to yourself, just view it. Your AIM window will display that you have sent a message.
    sent

    phone


On a Mac:


  1. In iChat AV click File > New Chat with person (Command - Shift - N).
    new chat


  2. Enter in the phone number. Again, make sure to put +1 before the phone number.
    sending


  3. Click send. And of course, on the phone you can reply and it will appear on the desktop AIM client.

    sending

    itest


We tested this on a Mac (iChat AV and PC AIM) with a Sony Ericsson p900 and Nokia 3650, it worked great and should work on any phone and just about any phone network.

On a side note, if you use MSN Messenger you "can" do this, but it's not as easy, the other person needs to be on MSN Messenger, have a profile filled out with their Mobile number AND have set MSN to forward to their phone. Lastly, you'll need to right click or go to the offline contacts to send a message, this is also the same if you use a MSN Direct device like a SPOT watch. So for now, we think AIM is the easiest way to do this- we're hoping MSN changes this in future versions.

One more thing…you can also read more about this on Mac OS Hints.

No "free entry winners" in the iTunes contest…