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Yahoo Messenger
Installation Recommendations

Winterfest Online

Yahoo Groups FAQ

Also see our YM FAQ.

Why installation recommendations?

We've heard complaints from some that they installed Yahoo Messenger and it "took over" their computer. Once you see all the things we change in our recommended install, you'll be able to see why they might feel that way.

Yahoo Messenger download dialog boxDownload Yahoo Messenger here: Just click the Download Now button.

It will bring up a box like the one on the right.

Choose Save File and save it to your Desktop or another place where you can easily find it.  Once it finishes downloading, double-click its icon.

YM install icon

 It will bring up a screen like this one:
YM installation 1 of 6

See how it's already talking about "other related Yahoo products"?
You don't need any of these in order to use Yahoo Messenger, but if these options suit you, then by all means go ahead and install them. Our goal in this document is to help you install only those options that you want and none of those you don't.

Click Next and move on to Step 2 of 6.
YM install 2 of 6

If you're installing YM as you're reading this, you'll notice that I've unchecked those two check boxes on the lower part of the screen. I really don't want Yahoo as my default search engine, nor do I want Yahoo as my home page. If you do want these things, of course feel free to leave those boxes checked. But wait! Don't click Next yet! Look at the top of the screen. Those sneaky devils have a Custom Install link up there! Click that and let's have a look.

YM Custom Install options

I unchecked all the boxes because I don't want any of those options. But you should choose what suits you. Let's find out what all the check boxes are about.

If you find it handy to have icons on your Desktop, then leave the Desktop shortcut box checked. 

If you want an icon on the Quick Launch Toolbar, then leave that checkbox checked.

Here's the official site for Yahoo Toolbar with Anti-Spy: Word on the street is that it's junk, but one man's junk is another man's treasure, so decide for yourself. (What's anti-spyware?)

Yahoo Browser Services is a bunch of links to assorted Yahoo things they'll add to your Favorites if you choose it.

Once you decide which options you want, click Next.
YM install 3 of 6

Ok, that License Agreement and Terms is a really lot of stuff to read! I didn't finish reading the bottom one because I don't plan to buy any phone services from them.

I recommend you do read these license agreements and terms of service, even though they're usually deadly dull. Occasionally I run across one with terms so onerous I decide I don't need their crappy software after all.

Check Yes and click Next when you're done.
YM install 4 of 6

Yikes! More stuff to read and just as boring as the license agreement. I skipped reading them this time (though I've read them before), but you should read them. Do as I say, not as I do!

Click Next when you're done.

Firefox warning message

Hey! What the heck is this?! Did you see me check any options that said I wanted it to install anything in Firefox? I most certainly did nothing of the sort! I don't want or need a Yahoo Messenger icon in my browser, so I chose No. You, however, are free to choose Yes if you get such a question. It all depends on what you like and what you want.

A whole series of screens will display during the actual install. Some of them even contain useful info, so go ahead and read them.

YM install 6 of 6 Finally! Sheesh! That installation was grueling! (What is that smiley doing with those ribbons? Eating them? Spitting them out? Or are they supposed to be legs? If they are, why are they coming out of his mouth? Island of Dr Moreau. Shudder.)

If you want to start YM now, leave the Launch box checked. If not, you've probably had plenty of practice unchecking boxes.

Click Finish.

YM install iconDon't forget to delete the install program from your Deskop or wherever you put it. That's this guy, remember? 

If you like, read on and learn about some other recommended settings.

YM login box
This is the YM login window. More check boxes for us to discuss.

Remember my ID & password - If you check this, then anyone else who uses your computer can sign in as you. (Unless you each have separate accounts on your computer.)

Sign in automatically means YM will load every time you turn your computer on. If this is what you want, that's fine; if not, uncheck it.

If other people use your computer, I suggest not using either of the above options, and especially not both of them together. Having your YM signed in as you when you're not there isn't good for anyone. (Your friend who's trying to chat with you is disappointed; the person using your computer is inconvenienced; and after a while your friends might stop trying to chat with you because they never know whether it's you or some other member of your family.)

Sign in as invisible to everyone comes in useful when you need to talk to someone but don't have time to talk to everyone who might happen by.

After you enter your yahoo id and password, click Sign In, or just press Enter.

At this point, you might want to go and start using YM. There's not a lot of point in spending time configuring it if you decide you're not going to use it. Come back later though because there really are settings you should look at, especially the Privacy ones.


There are tons and bunches of things you can configure in YM. And you should. YM has a lot more junk - umm... a lot more features than it did several years ago. Whether you consider them features - or just junk - of course depends a lot on whether you use them. From the Messenger menu, click Preferences. First we'll visit Privacy and after that we'll go back to the top of the list. At any time, you can click Apply to save your changes. Click OK to save and exit. And of course Cancel is exit without saving.

YM prefs - Privacy
Always sign in as invisible. We've talked about Invisibility already. Pretty much the way YM works is that whatever status message you set for yourself, everyone on your messenger list can see it - assuming you selected that option when you added them to your messenger list. And really that functionality is the heart of YM - being able to see when your friends are available for a wee chat.

Allow Yahoo web sites to show when I am online. This one concerns me. There are a number of Yahoo services, including Yahoo mail and Yahoo groups, which will report your YM status to complete strangers if you leave this box checked. That might be ok, depending where on the internet you go, or it might not.

The Idle options are pretty straightforward.

Listening to LAUNCHcast Radio - it can announce to everyone on your messenger list what music you're listening to. More about LAUNCHcast later.

Playing a game on Yahoo Games - If you're into Yahoo games, you might attract others on your messenger list to come join you there.

Showing my webcam - I advise caution. The folks you meet in BATB land are likely to be nice people; the rest of the internet is not necessarily so. I suggest sharing your webcam only with folks you trust.

Allow plug-ins to set clickable status messages - Plug-ins? Who knew? This checkbox won't do anything unless you actually install some plug-ins.
YM Preferences - General

First on the General page is the Automatically start YM feature that we've already covered.

Stand by and wait... applies more to Dialup.
Show YM Insider - it's mainly a stupid commercial. Turn it off.

Keep YM on top will keep you from being able to see things YM is on top of.
Open web links in a new browser window - the alternative is to replace the current contents of your browser window.

Automatically sign me in when I click a Yahoo link means if you click, for example, the icon that says you have new mail, it will go ahead and log you in.

Remove the taskbar button... that one's self-explanatory.
Show Tips - I just unchecked that one. They're a poor excuse for tips.

Open Messenger when I press Windows+Y. You know how you can press Windows key+M to minimize all windows or Windows+E for the Explorer or Windows+F to Find, well now you can press Windows+Y to open YM. Overkill if you ask me, but whatever. (And - it doesn't seem to work - not here anyway.)

Sign out of Messenger when I close the main window - if you close your Messenger list window, you get signed out.

And lastly - on this page anyway - sign in to my mobile device. I don't use it. If you have a YM enabled cell phone or whatever, you might want to check it out.
YM prefs - Alerts & Sounds

The Alerts & Sounds page is all about personal preference.

If you wish YM would quit making so many obnoxious sounds, uncheck Enable alert sounds.

For most of us, some sounds might be helpful. There are different options available for each item in the list. Adjust them to what you like.

I especially recommend some changes to the Buzz option. By default, it will make a loud buzzing sound and shake the messenger window. The first time this happened to me, I about jumped out of my skin! I've turned off the window shaking and changed the horrible BUZZ! to a much more pleasant doorbell sound.

I also changed the sound for when I receive an Instant Message. The default is a fairy godmother sort of a noise that, for whatever reason, makes me almost homicidal! Grrr!

Towards the bottom of the page, Mute Yahoo Games. If you don't play games in YM, this setting won't matter. If you do, do you like games that make noise?

Alert me before downloading... I keep close track of what's installed on my computer. If you want Yahoo to deal with any upgrades for you, leave it unchecked. But don't come crying to me if they install extra stuff you didn't want! ;-)

Moving on to the Appearance page....
YM prefs - Appearance

Change Skin sounds weirder than it is. If you're into skinning, you'll be sorely disappointed by the lack of choices. But if you're into skinning, you probably know where to find more. Skinning just changes the appearance (mainly colors) of YM.

Default font and color is a helpful choice. You might try Verdana or Georgia as your font - they were designed specifically to be read on screen. Change the size if you like too. Many of us have aging eyes which appreciate a larger font.

Always use my fonts and colors is a godsend, to me anyway. Whatever font I pick stays put, no matter what horrid font or color the other person has selected.

List text - these options are about what font your messenger list appears in.

For each contact on the Messenger list... yeah, it's a nice option. Too bad it doesn't always work. I suspect the problem is different YM versions. Shrug.

I'm going to skip some screenshots of pages with not much on them . The Archive page lets you save a record of all your chats. If you're the type who saves emails, you might like this option.

On the Chat page - Ignore chat invitations doesn't affect Conference invites.

Calling & Audio is specific to your speaker and microphone hardware.

Connection - you might need to configure this if you're at work and there's a firewall. You might not want to go there though.
YM prefs - Messages Display image - you can have a picture displayed by your name. Or you can turn other people's pictures off. We don't meet many perverts here in BATB land, but if you travel in wilder territories you might consider it.

Ignore list - Again, we mostly meet nice folks in BATB land, but if you should happen upon someone who harasses you, you can put them on your Ignore list and never hear from them again.

Yahoo Music - Yeah, this is one of those features I consider junk. The current version doesn't actually even play music any more. You have to go LAUNCHcast for that. And of course there are ads.

LiveWords makes a lot of things into links so you can go search them on the web in, of course, Yahoo's search engine.

Here's the Messages option screen. Most of the radio buttons are pretty self-explanatory. Let's look at the check boxes.

Enable IMVironments - interactive backgrounds that you can select in YM. They're pretty, but they make for a slow YM experience.

Enable emoticons - aka smileys. They're an extra clue about whether someone is serious or joking. They come in useful sometimes.

Enable Audibles - According to Yahoo, they're "large, animated characters that say things out loud." I had fun playing with them for about 10 minutes when they first came out. Then I disabled them because I kept clicking them by accident in the message window.

The Webcam and Super Webcam options are, obviously, about webcam configuration. Webcams are surprisingly easy to use in YM.

And that brings us to the end of the Preferences! Yahoo! While you're in a configuring mood, you might want to check out Show/Hide on the Messenger menu and turn off any options you don't want.


On a different but related note, I recommend visiting the Yahoo marketing preferences page,, and uncheck all the boxes there. Look at the Subscriptions section too, and uncheck anything there you don't want. And while you're in the neighborhood, look at the Alerts too - might as well get rid of any of those you don't want too.