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Messages will replace iChat on OS X Lion when installed but it will expire at some point in the future.

What will happen to my Lion's iChat application when Messages expire? Will I be able to use/reinstall iChat again?

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If someone can point to publicly available information about the future of iChat, I will re-open this with great speed. Until then, it's speculation on Mountain Lion which isn't in a public beta status. See meta.apple.stackexchange.com/questions/1119/… for discussion on this exception of Beta software. –  bmike Feb 24 '12 at 5:08
    
The problem here is Mountain Lion. If someone wants to edit this to explicitly ask what happens in Lion if Messages Beta should be removed or the beta expires, then I'd welcome this as squarely in scope for active discussion on the site proper. –  bmike Feb 24 '12 at 5:12
    
@bmike I submitted an edit to focus the question on Lion only; does that suffice? –  bneely Feb 24 '12 at 6:04
    
Im not sure this is on topic as we will be making assumptions and not stating facts, we cannot say what Apple will do in the future or how these software products will change. –  Graeme Hutchison Feb 24 '12 at 16:18
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Mine seems to have expired just yesterday—all of the menu options are disabled except Uninstall Messages beta. However, it did not give me the message that was predicted to show. –  Phil Calvin Aug 17 '12 at 18:56
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

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So there really isn’t a Messages.app. It’s still iChat.app but with some magic causing the Finder to show it as Messages. [...] [T]he magic is in the Bundle name entry in the Info.plist file in /Applications/iChat.app/Contents

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Why did Apple choose to do it this way? My guess is that Apple wanted Messages to inherit all your old iChat settings so you wouldn’t have to redo everything. Also, because Messages is in beta, Apple wanted you to have an easy way to uninstall Messages and go back to iChat as if you never left. I’m not sure this shallow rebranding was the best way to achieve these goals, but it does seem minimally disruptive.

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For the complete information I will point you to Dr. Drang post that answers this question, and more, about iChat/Messages.

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Could you summarize the post, just so we've got the info here as well (in case the link breaks or something)? –  Abby T. Miller Feb 24 '12 at 3:07
    
Sure, here goes: open the info window for Messages, and the "Name & Extension" panel shows "iChat.app." cd to /Applications and ls -d iC* will show "iChat.app"; ls -d Me* will not show "Messages.app". ls -d ~/Library/Preferences/*iChat* reveals all of your old/current iChat preferences are still in place - Messages.app is reading from these files so that when the beta version is removed, iChat is restored as it was. –  soxman Feb 24 '12 at 4:13
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In the Messages menu you'll find: Uninstall Messages beta. Choose it and a dialog will ask if you'd like to reinstall iChat. I haven't yet followed through with that but I'm assuming iChat is still stored on the computer somewhere or gets downloaded and installed from Apple's servers.

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This is pure speculation on my part, the worst kind of Ask Different answer, but it's based on past experience with the Apple ecosystem and supported by the technical answers already provided:

You can rest assured that Apple won't leave Lion users who have downloaded the Messages beta without iChat capabilities. The Message client will either be reverted to an iChat client or, more likely in my view, a non-beta Message client will be made available for Lion.

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