3 Tips for better iChat AV Video conferences

Posted on Aug 20, 2008 in Hints

I’ve been using iChat AV quite extensively recently, as my girlfriend is spending some time in Sweden – the land of insanely fast consumer broadband. iChat AV has been a great way to keep in touch, however thre have been a few glitches here and there. Here’s a few possible remedies for common issues.

1) Audio Issues

Low call volume, background noise and feedback are some of the problems you might typically run into.You can avoid most of these by using a headset (luckily now also available in better-looking behind-the-head designs, but if you don’t happen to have one handy, try these tips:

Volume

iChat tries to automatically optimize the call’s volume, but you can increase the overall volume of the call in the “Sound” section of your System Preferences. Under the “Input” options, drag the volume slider to your preferred level and also check “Use ambient noise reduction”, to minimize background noise.

Sound System Preferences

Feedback loops

To prevent feedback, try lowering your volume, or either use external speakers and keep them pointed away from your Mac’s microphone. Alternatively use headphones along with the internal microphone.

2) Connection issues

Port forwarding

If you receiving a lot of connection issues whilst trying to a new video chat, try activating Port Forwarding on your router. Whilst not strictly necessary, it seems to make connecting more reliable in my experience. iChat uses the following ports: 

5060, 5353, 5678, 16393-16402 (UDP) and 5190, 5297, 5298 (UPD & TCP).

If you’re unsure how to configure Port Forwarding on your router, head over to the handy PortForward.com website, select your Router’s brand and model and then select “iChat” as your application for full instructions.

Audio or video keeps breaking up 

iChat adjust the AV quality depending on the available bandwidth. However this can sometimes cause jerky video or choppy audio if the available bandwidth fluctuates.

To fix this, open iChat’s Connection Doctor from the “Video” menu and select “Statistics” from the drop down menu. Monitor the bandwidth values and make a note of the general average. Then head over to iChat’s Preferences (iChat > Preferences) and select the “Audio / Video” tab.

Selecting a bandwidth limit

There you can specify a bandwidth limit. Select the value just under the average you made a note of above. That will force iChat to reduce the overall quality of the call slightly, but the quality should be more consistent. 

3) Auto-Accept calls

If you don’t want to have to dash to your computer every time you receive a new call, you can also get iChat to automatically accept all incoming calls.

Go to the “Events” in iChat’s preferences and select “Video Invitation” from the “Events” list. Then check the “Run Applescript” box and choose “Auto Accept.applescript” from the list. 

Auto-accept Video calls

(Note: If you only want to auto-accept calls from certain contacts check out the free iChat utility, Chax).

iChat is a great tool for keeping in touch, so I hope these tips can help make it even better for you guys!

2 Comments

  1. How can I decrease/increase volume of the iChat conversation on my side besides changing the overall volume?

  2. Hmm if you’ve already tried the tips I mentioned above, then you might want to look into a better microphone.
    a) Check to see if the right input is selected
    b) If you have a newer MacBook with a combined input/output audio jack you can also connect iPhone headphone with an inline Mic and use those
    c) If b) doesn’t work, buy a $20 Logitech headset

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