Online chatting is incredibly popular now. There are group chat rooms, instant messaging, texting, video and audio chatting, and you can even chat right in Gmail. Sometimes, though, chatting simply isn’t enough. Sometimes you have something you want to share with the person on the other end of your chat client. Maybe it’s a photo you took of yourself or a funny video clip. Being able to share these media files, while chatting, is a great feature to look for in a chat program. Thankfully, it’s something that’s pretty standard. The way you use it isn’t the same when comparing different chat programs, and different clients deal with shared media in different ways, but generally it’s a pretty simple process.
This article won’t cover every single chat client out there, of course. Mac users have iChat, Windows users have Trillian and Windows Live Messenger, Linux users have Pidgin and Kopete… there are too many to try and provide step-by-step directions for each. Thankfully, if you can share pictures and video on client, you can probably do it on most of them.
Usually, sharing a file is a simple process. In the screenshot for this article, I’ve used Kopete, a chat client for KDE Linux. To share a picture or video, all I have to do is go to the Send File option in the Edit menu, then select the file from my computer. Once I’ve done this, the person I’m chatting with will receive notice that I want to share a file. If they accept, the file transfers from my computer to theirs. Once downloaded, they can view it right then, or save it for later.
Other programs deal with sharing pictures and video in a different manner. The new version of Windows Live Messenger, for instance, allows the sender to actually create a slideshow out of a series of images, which both people can then view simultaneously. Similarly, videos can be shared from the web, and again both people chatting can watch the video at the same time. Directions for Windows Live Messenger can be found on this page:
Of course, one user uploading the file to the other user isn’t the only way pictures and videos can be shared while chatting. There are numerous picture sharing websites available, from Flickr and Picasa to Photobucket, TinyPic and Smugmug. Similarly, videos can be uploaded to YouTube for easy sharing. The advantage to sharing your pictures and video in this way is that you can upload the file once, copy down the link, then simply paste the link directly into the chat program. Some programs will actually show a thumbnail of the image, while others will just show the link itself. Regardless, sharing pictures and videos this way is more efficient for the person sharing the files, as once the picture or video is uploaded to the picture sharing website or YouTube, the link can be shared with dozens of people, without the person needing to upload it again.
So there it is. The ability to share pictures and videos while chatting adds a new dimension to chatting. It isn’t just text any longer, but pictures, videos and sounds. It makes chatting more fun and possibly even more informative, and fortunately, it’s easy to do.