We have a number of Mac's in a small, simple local network at the office (all running Snow Leopard or later) that I'd like to use for instant messaging with multiple participants.

The trouble is, at present, they are not internet connected and we have no server machines, so I'm using iChat with Bonjour networking to chat with other users. This all works fine, apart from the big problem that you can only chat with a single user at a time in the same conversation (you can talk to multiple people in separate conversations on a one-to-one basis, but this isn't ideal).

Is there any way of configuring iChat that I haven't considered? Or another instant messaging client that will allow me to chat with multiple participants, in the same conversation, in a local network without a central server?

EDIT: Further reading suggests running the iChat service on a OS X Server machine within the network. Is this the only way? I was hoping not to have to add another machine just for this.

  • 1
    You should be able to chat with multiple Bonjour users at the same time. What happens when you try to start a chat with a 2nd user?
    – joelseph
    Feb 22, 2012 at 20:25
  • 1
    @joelseph: Re-reading your comment, I may have caused some confusion. In my question, I meant multiple users in the same iChat conversation, not just multiple separate conversation windows. I've updated the question to make this clearer.
    – binarybob
    Feb 22, 2012 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


You don't need the iChat service. Any Jabber (aka XMPP) server will do (the iChat server in OS X Server is also one, basically), and it can run on virtually any machine in your network.
I'm afraid I can't recommend one, but Google should be able to help you.

  • Thanks for that, I'll give it a try! For interest Openfire looks relatively pain free to install and configure
    – binarybob
    Mar 5, 2012 at 8:25

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