1. Computing

Beyond the Screen: How Instant Messaging Works

By

1 of 5

What Happens After You Sign In?
How Instant Messaging Works
Image/Brandon De Hoyos, About.com
From popular instant messaging programs, including AIM and Yahoo Messenger, to web-based and mobile chat applications, IM connects millions of people each day across a variety of platforms. But, while writing and sending these messages is instantaneous and relatively seamless, there is a lot more than meets the eye.

If you have every wondered what it takes to connect with friends and relatives over an instant messenger, you are in the right place. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore how instant messaging works, from signing in to your favorite IM client to sending and receiving a message across the network.

Choosing an Instant Messaging Client

When you first set out to join an IM network, you must choose a client, a software application designed to create a connection between your computer and the network's server.

There are six types of IM clients, including single-protocol, multi-protocol, web-based, enterprise, mobile app and portable IMs. Regardless of which type you choose, they all connect the same way.

Next: Learn How Your IM Connects

  1. About.com
  2. Computing
  3. Instant Messaging
  4. IM Basics
  5. How Instant Messengers Work - A Step-by-Step Illustrated Guide to IM Clients

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.