How to Chat With Friends Online

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From its earliest moments, the Internet has been about communication, linking computers users in two different locations. The Internet of 2011 has become, arguably, almost entirely about communication, with a host of social networking sites and chat programs available to anyone who wants to use them. To chat with a friend online, you only need a bit of coordination and timing, and to make a choice to use the same medium.

  • Talk to your friends about which social networking site or chat service they use. The Internet is loaded with choices: Facebook, MSN, Gmail, Skype, Yahoo Messenger. Odds are your friends already belong to one of or all of these services, but if you don't, simply sign up. The two basic kinds of chat interfaces are Web-based, including Facebook's messaging system or Gmail Chat, and software-based, including Skype or Yahoo Messenger, which require a separate download. Find out which ones your friends are using.

  • Sign up for the service that your friends use. If they have Facebook accounts and you want to chat with them through Facebook, join Facebook. If they use MSN, sign up for Windows Live. All of these services have a "Sign Up" or "Join" button on the homepage.

  • Download the programs your friends use, if necessary. MSN has a Web-based chat program through its email site Hotmail and also a downloadable version of its chat software called Windows Live Messenger, which even works on Macs. Install the program.

  • Sign in to the website or run the program, and log in using the account you created in Step 2. Take a few minutes to get used to the interface. A common issue will face you, regardless of which service you chose: these are social networking tools, and if you don't have any friends added, the sites and programs will look pretty bare.

  • Add friends. The method for each service is a little different. For example, on Facebook you can type the name of the person you wish to add into the search box at the top, then click "Add as friend." The other person will have to approve you. In Skype or Live Messenger, you search for contacts using a built-in search feature and have to wait to be approved, just like on Facebook.

  • Look for friends online. After you've added a few people to your contact list, you will be able to see when they are online. Again, the process for starting a chat depends on software or site you are using, but start by clicking their name or double-clicking, in software, usually to open a chat window. Then type what you want to say and press "Enter" to send your message. Wait for a response and continue your conversation.

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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