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10.4: Change iChat groups' divider bar colors Apps
Tiger only hintOne of the nicer improvements in iChat 3.0, in my opinion, is the update to the Groups feature. In iChat 2, groups existed, but worked in a way that was far from user friendly, and not all that useful. In 3.0, though, I think they got it just about right. Groups are easy to create, they can each be turned on or off, and (most importantly), your buddies are now shown in their groups within the main Buddy List window.

However, one thing I didn't like was the color of the group divider bar -- it's a very flat gray, and (to my eye), blended right into the window frame, making it too hard to see where the group breaks were (as seen here). Thankfully, it's pretty easy to change, as the resources are simply images in the iChat application bundle. More specifically, quit iChat (if you're going to make any changes), control-click on iChat and choose Show Package Contents, then navigate to Contents -> Resources. I modified these four files:
  • GroupRowBG_small.tiff
  • GroupRowBG.tiff
  • GroupTriangle_closed.tiff
  • GroupTriangle_open.tiff
As always when tweaking an application, start by making copies of the files you're going to modify, in case you want to reverse the changes later. I chose to make the dividers a "Tiger-like" blue gradient (as seen here) -- you'll want to use a darker color in general, as the text for each group is white. Edit the files in your favorite graphics package, then relaunch iChat to see the results of your work.

Read on for a (related) aside about the origins of this hint and my new thrice-weekly weblog...

I originally wrote this hint up in much greater detail for my Macworld weblog. Generally speaking, my weblog entries there are usually a "greatest hits" of I take a more detailed look at some of the popular hints from the main site, add screenshots, movies, and much more detail to the writeups. The objective is to make it such that anyone with at least a bit of Mac experience can implement the hints. This is somewhat different than the main site, where many of the hints lack the full level of detail necessary for less experienced users, due to the time it would require to do a full writeup of every hint -- consider that this hint is about 250 words on, but over 1,200 words on the blog, where you'll also find a downloadable archive of my modified divider bar images.

Though the blog will usually be rewrites of existing hints, occasionally an original hint (one of my own, not a user submission) may appear on the blog first. When that happens, as in this case, I'll make sure I post back to the main site as well, so that the hints database is always up to date -- and I'll post enough detail to actually use the hint, not just a link back to the blog, though I'll include that in case someone wants the more thorough version.

If you read here regularly and are comfortable with the level of detail provided, you don't need to read the blog entries -- there will always be more hints on the main site, and it will always be updated daily. The Macworld blog is simply a place where I can go into more detail on certain hints, targeted at a broader selection of users. Feel free to stop by if you wish, of course!
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10.4: Change iChat groups' divider bar colors | 3 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Change iChat groups' divider bar colors
Authored by: Darkshadow on Aug 17, '05 06:44:11PM

Hey Rob, I want to post a small correction for your article on MacWorld - I hadn't read it until just now. I did this a while back, and did a bit of testing when I tried it out. The row background isn't tiled horizontally like your article states, it is stretched. If you make a plain white background and place a few vertical pixel-wide black lines inside, you'll see how the stretching works.

I used the fact that it stretches to make a green gradient that goes from a light green in the upper left to a dark green in the lower right. It looks very nice. I'm not on my home computer right now, so I can't post a screen shot of it. If I remember when I get home, I'll post that up.

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10.4: Change iChat groups' divider bar colors
Authored by: luomat on Aug 18, '05 10:28:04PM

I hate iChat3 for one reason: I lost the ability to turn certain groups on/off.

There are times when I only want one group visible.

My privacy settings are such that only people on my list can IM me. For that reason, there are several people on my buddy list I will probably never or very seldomly IM, so I'd like to tuck them away in a "hidden" group.

I could do that in iChat2.

iChat3 was a huge step back for me. I don't need 3-way video chat. I would like the basic functionality that iChat2 had though...

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10.4: Change iChat groups' divider bar colors
Authored by: Bobson on Aug 25, '05 12:05:52PM

Why not just put them in a group that would go last alphabetically, and collapse it? Sure, it may still be there, if you scroll down to the end of your list, but it's easy to ignore.

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