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I'm using the new Messages beta with my Gmail account and my iMessage account (which is linked to the same Gmail address). It's using a photo for my buddy picture that I've used before on various things, but I can't figure out why it's showing up here. It's not the picture associated with my Gmail account or my user account on this computer. I can't find the setting in Preferences where I can select a buddy picture, so it must be pulling it from somewhere in some account.

So: where does Messages get its user picture from?

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Why the close vote? The Messages beta is on topic for this site. – hairboat Feb 20 '12 at 16:17
Is there any chance you used that iMessage / iCloud account from an iOS device? It and AOL are the only other picture injection points that come to my mind. – bmike Feb 20 '12 at 16:26
@AbbyT.Miller Not everyone keeps up to date on the Meta, and although the concensus is clear, it's not official policy or reflected in the FAQ yet. – stuffe Feb 20 '12 at 16:33
@stuffe I figured as much. I linked to the post to deter future close-votage :) – hairboat Feb 20 '12 at 16:35
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Gmail may be set to synchronise with your Address Book. Go to your address book, and select the "me" card that you will previously have chosen as your own identify within Address Book. Whatever picture is being used by your "me" card (or potentially by whatever card has a matching email address as the one your messages app is linked to) should be the one Messages uses.

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Aha! Address Book was indeed the culprit. Gmail doesn't sync with Address Book (yet), but it seems that Messages is indeed using the photo associated with my "me" card. – hairboat Feb 20 '12 at 16:34

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