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How Yahoo Messenger Works

Convenient Tools for Yahoo Messenger
Yahoo Messenger users can chat with video capabilities.
Yahoo Messenger users can chat with video capabilities.
Image courtesy of Yahoo

Convenient tools for Yahoo Messenger make instant messenging even faster and easier. Yahoo Messenger offers keyboard shortcuts, voice chat, parental controls and more. Keep reading to learn about each of these.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Typing key commands can make Yahoo Messenger faster to use. You can, for example, type "Control + F" to find contacts in the messenger list. The drop-down menus show keyboard shortcuts for commands.

Flickr for Photos

Available in Yahoo Messenger 9.0, Flickr lets you share photos in a side panel during IM. All of the images are shown in a thumbnail strip below the photo being displayed. A slider lets you change from one displayed image to another. Click the arrow left of the slider, and you can turn the photos into a slide show to view with your contact.

Video and Map Preview

If you have the Web address of a video or map, you can watch it with a friend in the conversation window of Yahoo Messenger 9.0. Copy the URL of the video or map into the window where you type messages, and it will open in the conversation window. To watch a video with your friend, click "Watch with Me."

Yahoo Chat and Voice Chat

You can type or talk with voice chat in Yahoo Messenger chat rooms. To join a chat room, click on "Messenger," "Yahoo Chat" and "Join a Room." Select an alias to use for the chat, check out the rooms available and double-click on one you want to enter. Chat room visitors must be at least 18 years old.

For voice chat, you'll need a Windows operating system with Internet Explorer, plus a microphone, sound card and speakers. To use voice chat, click the voice icon after you enter a chat room. Hold down the green "Talk" button to start talking. When you're done talking, release the button.


Plug-ins are mini-programs that plug into Yahoo Messenger. Conversation plug-ins let you share activities -- like shopping, playing games or checking a flight schedule -- during IM conversations. Tab plug-ins give instant information, for example about important activities on your calendar or the status of an online auction bid.

You'll find tab plug-ins below the messenger list and can click "Add Plug-ins" for a list. Conversation plug-ins are above the conversation window. Click the Plug-ins button to see the list. To find more plug-ins to add, visit Yahoo Gallery.

Parental Controls

Yahoo parental controls let you restrict the places your children go online and the people with whom they communicate. You also can receive weekly report cards showing Web sites visited, e-mails sent and received, and IMs completed with Yahoo Messenger.

The Web filter can block types of Web sites or specific sites. You can limit e-mail pals to those you approve, and you can limit when and how long your child stays online. You also can access your child's account to view and change inaccurate personal information.

To activate parental controls, you have to set up a Yahoo family account with sub accounts for all family members. You'll also need to install a program on every computer your family uses. Once you have a Yahoo account for yourself, go to the Member Center and look for information under "Sub Accounts."

Yahoo recommends that youths represent themselves with an avatar rather than a photo, use an alias, set their online status as invisible and archive all IM conversations. For parenting guides, Internet safety suggestions and a parent forum, visit Yahoo Messenger Safety Guide.

Next, let's look at how you can use Yahoo Messenger anywhere, including from smartphones or PDAs.