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Use AIM Express with Safari Web Browsers
If you want to access your AOL Instant Messenger account at a computer without iChat, AIM, or one of the various third party clients installed, you can always use AIM Express. However, according to its website, Safari isn't supported, and therefore cannot launch the applet.

I did some investigating, mostly by disguising Safari as MSIE 6.0 and bypassing the JavaScript checks. It turns out that AIM Express does work in Safari, and pretty much flawlessly. You don't even need the Debug Menu activated. Here's how to (hopefully) get AIM Express running on an unsupported browser, in three (easy?) steps.

Note: I didn't test this with .Mac screennames. I don't imagine it'd be any different, but somewhere along the line it might reject the @ symbol in the screenname. Furthernote that this has only been tested on Safari.
  1. Head on over here to log into your AIM account.

  2. After a few redirects, you'll be sent to a seemingly blank page with a lengthy URL starting with View the source of the page (Command-Option-V in Safari). In the middle of the source, you should see a big chunk like this:
    mWin.document.location = "
    Note that if you see any errors, some of them must be closed with the red "close" titlebar widget -- hitting the OK button on these troublesome errors simply makes the message pop up again.

  3. Copy the URL, starting with http:// and ending with 180& (don't grab those quotes). Paste it into a browser window to load AIM Express. You'll be asked to log in a second time. At the end of this step, you should be viewing a page which says "Closing this window will disconnect you from the instant messaging system." Not only is this true, it also goes for opening a new tab in that window -- open a new tab, and poof, you're disconnected.
Although unsupported, the interface works well. The brushed metal is about the same color as the gray it uses in some parts of the background, and some buttons blend perfectly in.
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Use AIM Express with Safari | 13 comments | Create New Account
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The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
I personally like the third party clients my self
Authored by: myrkr on Jul 30, '04 10:36:34AM
I know there are a few nice programs out there. I use Adium. It's really nice and quite customizable. There is a whole list of them to fit just about any personality. But if you really don't want one on your computer, i guess this works.

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Not your computer...
Authored by: rhowell on Jul 30, '04 11:30:43AM

The hint provides a method for chatting at a computer (most likely not yours) without such a client. I don't want you to install Adium when you sit down in front of my computer.

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Not your computer...
Authored by: Makoto on Jul 30, '04 08:07:37PM

Until the day when someone creates an IM client that can be run entirely from a USB pen drive, I suppose. :)

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Use AIM Express with Safari
Authored by: osxpounder on Jul 30, '04 11:30:00AM

Seems like this tip might become useful for students who spend a lot of time in multimedia labs, where no installation of software is permitted. They'd be able to chat & share [?] without needing the lab to install iChat or AIM.... Just a thought.


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.Mac doesn't seem to work
Authored by: rhowell on Jul 30, '04 11:33:25AM

I tried signing on with my .Mac account, and it came back with a "screen name doesn't exist" error.

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AIM Express and Firefox
Authored by: googoo on Jul 30, '04 01:26:04PM

BTW, you can use AIM Express with Firefox and Mozilla without any copying and pasting from the page source. Just go to, and click on the AIM Express link in the menu bar.


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Use AIM Express with Safari
Authored by: Typhoon14 on Jul 30, '04 01:40:26PM

I was able to get it to work without any URL pasting. Clicking the initial "Start" button brings up the browser compatibility error, but at the bottom of that error are three buttons, one of which says something like "click here if you are unable to download AIM software". Clicking that button appears to bypass the browser checks and takes you straight into AIM Express.

Note: you need to disable popup blocking to load AIM Express in this way.

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Use AIM Express with Safari
Authored by: DavidRavenMoon on Jul 30, '04 02:49:05PM

I went to the above link... enabled popup windows, signed in to my AIM (not my .Mac) account... and the applet launched just fine. It took a while to launch on this G4/400, but it works fine.

I now have AIM Express running in Safari 1.2.2.

Note, I didn't get a single browser error.

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Use AIM Express with Safari
Authored by: fresler on Jul 31, '04 12:34:57PM

I had the same experience. Worked just fine for me without having to do anything special. I'm using Safari 1.0 (v85).

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Use AIM Express with Safari
Authored by: blubbernaut on Aug 01, '04 11:46:30PM

I'd like to know how you get around javascript compatibility testing, as I have a site that I'd like to use, that checks this. Changing user agent doesn't help.

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No contact with .Mac users
Authored by: Finnigan on Aug 02, '04 03:08:36PM

Not only do .Mac accounts not work, but if you sign in using another account, you can't send messages to .Mac users, even if they're in your buddy list.

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No contact with .Mac users
Authored by: rgovostes on Aug 02, '04 04:23:55PM

Yeah, this is what happened to me at first, and was written in the original version of the hint. They didn't show up in the buddy list, and when I sent them a message it told me to enter a valid screenname. However, after I used it for a while, suddenly it let me IM my .Mac buddies. I e-mailed Rob and he fixed up my post (many thanks!).

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Use AIM Express with Safari
Authored by: 5chm31din6 on Aug 03, '04 01:55:49PM

You can also use AIM Quick Buddy -- a dumbed-down version of AIM Express. It seems to work with any browser.

(The link to launch Quick Buddy is in the right column.)

Signature, schmignature.

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