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Yahoo! Messenger

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Yahoo! Messenger (sometimes abbreviated Y!M) was an advertisement-supported instant messaging client and associated protocol provided by Yahoo!. Yahoo Messenger was provided free of charge and could be downloaded and used with a generic "Yahoo ID" which also allowed access to other Yahoo! services, such as Yahoo! Mail, where users could be automatically notified when they received new email. Yahoo! also offered PC-to-PC, PC-to-Phone and Phone-to-PC service, file transfers, webcam hosting, text messaging service, and chat rooms in various categories.

Yahoo! Messenger
Yahoo! Messenger Text Logo.svg
Yahoo! Messenger Logo.png
Initial releaseMarch 9, 1998; 20 years ago (1998-03-09)[1] (as Yahoo! Pager)
June 21, 1999; 19 years ago (1999-06-21) (as Yahoo! Messenger)[2]
Last release
Windows: / March 13, 2012; 6 years ago (2012-03-13)
Mac: 3.0.2 / July 14, 2012; 6 years ago (2012-07-14)
Linux: 1.0.6 / September 2003; 15 years ago (2003-09)
SunOS 5.7: 0.99.17-1 / September 2003; 15 years ago (2003-09)
Solaris 8: 1.0.4 / September 2003; 15 years ago (2003-09)
FreeBSD 4/5: 1.0.4 / September 2003; 15 years ago (2003-09)
Android: 2.9.2 / July 6, 2017; 18 months ago (2017-07-06)
iOS: 1.0.7/ February 29, 2016; 2 years ago (2016-02-29)
Operating systemAndroid, iOS. Microsoft Windows, Symbian, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris
TypeInstant messaging client and Internet phone
LicenseProprietary adware

Yahoo! Messenger was originally launched under the name Yahoo! Pager on March 9, 1998.[1]

In addition to instant messaging features similar to those offered by ICQ, it also offered (on Microsoft Windows) features such as: IMVironments (customizing the look of Instant Message windows, some of which include authorized themes of various cartoons such as Garfield or Dilbert), address-book integration and Custom Status Messages.[3] It was also the first major IM client to feature BUZZing and music-status. Another recently added feature is customized avatars. Yahoo Messenger also allows users to access Yahoo Chat Rooms. As of December 14, 2012, all public chat rooms on Yahoo Messenger have been shut down as part of a series of features being changed/added/deleted.[4][5]

As of March 27, 2016, the only supported clients were the Android, iOS and web browser clients. The original Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris clients were not supported anymore, and their servers began shutting down on August 5, 2016,[6] with the clients no longer working by August 31, 2016.[7] It turned out that the servers for the legacy clients were finally shut down sometime between the mid-morning and early afternoon hours Eastern Standard Time on September 1, 2016, resulting in the legacy desktop clients no longer being able to access their buddy/contact lists.

Yahoo Messenger was shut down on July 17, 2018 to focus on developing a Slack-like service titled Yahoo Together.[8]



File sharingEdit

Yahoo! Messenger offered file sending capabilities to its users. Files could be up to 2 GB each. Since the software's relaunch, only certain media files can be shared: photos, animated GIFs and videos. It also allows album sharing, with multiple media files in one IM. The animated GIF feature integrates with Tumblr, owned by Yahoo!


The new Yahoo! Messenger added a like button to messages and media. It was basic in functionality, adding a heart when clicked and listing contacts who added a like.


The new Yahoo! Messenger allowed messages to be unsent, deleting them from both the sender and the receiver's messaging page.

Group conversations (formerly Yahoo! Chat)Edit

The new Yahoo! Messenger allowed private group conversations.

Yahoo! Chat was a free online chat room service provided exclusively for Yahoo! users. Yahoo! Chat was first launched on January 7, 1997,[2] as it was confirmed to be a feature on the very first release of Yahoo! Pager. On March 9, 1998, the first public version of Yahoo! Pager was released, with Yahoo! Chat among its features. It allowed users to create public chat rooms, send private messages, and use emoticons.

In June 2005, with no advance warning, Yahoo disabled users' ability to create their own chat rooms. The move came after KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas reported that many of the user-created rooms were geared toward pedophilia. The story prompted several advertisers, including Pepsi and Georgia-Pacific, to pull their ads from Yahoo.[9]

On November 30, 2012, Yahoo announced that among other changes that the public chat rooms would be discontinued as of December 14, 2012.[5] quoting "This will enable us to refocus our efforts on modernizing our core Yahoo products experiences and of course, create new ones."

Until the chat rooms became unavailable on December 14, 2012, all versions of Yahoo! Messenger could access Yahoo chat rooms.

Yahoo has since closed down the site (which is now a redirect to a section of the Yahoo! Messenger page) because the great majority of chat users accessed it through Messenger. The company is still working on a way to allow users to create their own rooms while providing safeguards against abuse[citation needed]. A greyed-out option to "create a room" was available until the release of version 11.

Discontinued featuresEdit

Voice and videoEdit

As of January 2014, the iOS version supports voice calls, with video calling on some devices.[10] The Android version supports "voice & video calls (beta)".[11]

As of September 2016, Yahoo Messenger no longer offers webcam service on their computer application.

Yahoo's software previously allowed users with newer versions (8 through 10) to use webcams. This option enabled users from distances all over the world to view others who had installed a webcam on their end. The service was free with provided speeds averaging from a range in between 1 and 2 frames per second. The resolution of the images could be seen starting at 320×240 pixels or 160×120.

The British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)'s secret mass surveillance program Optic Nerve and National Security Agency (NSA) were reported to be indiscriminately collecting still images from Yahoo webcam streams from millions of mostly innocent Yahoo webcam users, among other things creating a database for facial recognition for future use. Optic Nerve took a still image from the webcam stream every 5 minutes.[12]

URI schemeEdit

Yahoo Messenger's installation process automatically installs an extra uniform resource identifier (URI) scheme handler for the Yahoo! Messenger Protocol into some web browsers, so that URIs beginning ymsgr can open a new Yahoo Messenger window with specified parameters. This is similar in function to the mailto URI scheme, which creates a new e-mail message using the system's default mail program. For instance, a web page might include a link like the following in its HTML source to open a window for sending a message to the YIM user exampleuser:

<a href="ymsgr:sendim?exampleuser">Send Message</a>

To specify a message body, the m parameter is used, so that the link location might look like this: ymsgr:sendim?exampleuser&m=This+is+my+message

Other commands are:

  • ymsgr:sendim?yahooid
  • ymsgr:addfriend?yahooid
  • ymsgr:sendfile?yahooid
  • ymsgr:call?yahooid
  • ymsgr:callPhone?phonenumber
  • ymsgr:im – opens the "Send an IM" window
  • ymsgr:customstatus?A+custom+status – changes the status message
  • ymsgr:getimv?imvname – loads an IMVironment (example: ymsgr:getimv?doodle, ymsgr:getimv?yfighter)


On October 13, 2005, Yahoo and Microsoft announced plans to introduce interoperability between their two messengers, creating the second-largest real-time communications service userbase worldwide: 40 percent of all users (AIM currently holds 56 percent). The announcement comes after years of third-party interoperability success (most notably, Trillian and Pidgin) and criticisms that the major real-time communications services were locking their networks. Microsoft has also had talks with AOL in an attempt to introduce further interoperability, but so far, AOL seems unwilling to participate.

Interoperability between Yahoo and Windows Live Messenger was launched July 12, 2006. This allowed Yahoo and Windows Live Messenger users to chat to each other without the need to create an account on the other service, provided both contacts used the latest versions of the clients. It was not possible to talk using the voice service between the two different messengers.

As of December 14, 2012, the interoperability between Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger ceased to exist.[4] The Live Messenger contacts appeared as greyed out and it was not possible to send instant messages to them.


There were various games and applications available that can be accessed via the conversation window by clicking the games icon and challenging your current contact. It requires Java to function.

As of April 18, 2014, games were removed from Yahoo Messenger.[13]


In version 8.0, Yahoo Messenger featured the ability for users to create plug-ins, which are then hosted and showcased on the Yahoo instead chat room. Yahoo now no longer provides plugin development SDK.[14]

Yahoo! Messenger users could listen to free and paid Internet radio services, using the defunct Yahoo! Music Radio plug-in from within the messenger window. The plug-in also player functionality, such as play, pause, skip and rate this song.


Yahoo Messenger users are subject to unsolicited messages (SPIM).[15][16] Yahoo's primary solution to the issue involves deleting such messages and placing the senders on an Ignore List.[17]

As of 2007, it was estimated that at least 75% of all users who used Yahoo chat rooms were bots.[18] Yahoo introduced a CAPTCHA system to help filter out bots from joining chat rooms, but such systems generally do little to prevent abuse by spammers.[19]


Yahoo! Messenger was the dominant instant messaging platform among commodity traders until the platform was discontinued in August 2016.[20][21][22]


Final versionsEdit

Yahoo Messenger Website Shows "Yahoo Messenger will no longer be supported after July 17, 2018. Yahoo is experimenting with new services and apps, one of which is an invite-only group messaging app called Yahoo Squirrel (currently in beta). Yahoo! Messenger was available for computers as a web service, including both a messenger-only site and Yahoo! Mail integration. Apps were also available on Android and iOS. Pidgin could connect to Yahoo! Messenger by using the FunYahoo++ plugin.

Retired versionsEdit

The following are the final releases for Yahoo! Messenger's original client:

  • Windows – – March 13, 2012
  • macOS – 3.0.2 (build 235554) – July 14, 2012
  • Unix – 1.0.4 – September 2003. It can still be downloaded from Softpedia.
    • Version 1.0.6 can be downloaded from the Unix Beta Page.

Yahoo released a preview version of Yahoo Messenger for Windows Vista. It had been designed to exploit the new design elements of Vista's Windows Presentation Foundation and introduced a new user interface and features. It lacked some basic functions such as webcam support, and has since been discontinued.

Third-party clients could also be used to access the original service. These included:


On November 4, 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation listed Yahoo! Messenger on its "Secure Messaging Scorecard". Yahoo! Messenger received 1 out of 7 points on the scorecard. It received a point for encryption during transit, but missed points because communications were not encrypted with a key the provider didn't have access to (i.e. the communications were not end-to-end encrypted), users couldn't verify contacts' identities, past messages were not secure if the encryption keys were stolen (i.e. the service did not provide forward secrecy), the code was not open to independent review (i.e. the source code was not open-source), the security design was not properly documented, and there had not been a recent independent security audit.[23][24]

In September 2016, The New York Times reported that Yahoo's security team, led by Alex Stamos, had pressed for Yahoo to adopt end-to-end encryption sometime between 2014 and 2015, but this had been resisted by Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo's senior vice president, "because it would have hurt Yahoo's ability to index and search message data".[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Stay In Touch With Yahoo Pager". Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Yahoo! Inc. - Company Timeline". Wayback Machine. 2008-07-13. Archived from the original on 2008-07-13. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  3. ^ "Features – Yahoo Messenger". Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Change is in the Air: Updates to Yahoo Messenger Features". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Yahoo Messenger public chat rooms discontinuing on Dec. 14th". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Old Yahoo Messenger App to Shut Down on August 5". Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  7. ^ Gloystein, Hennings (5 August 2016). "Oil traders prepare fond farewells to Yahoo Messenger". Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Yahoo Messenger will be discontinued".
  9. ^ Stith, John (2005-06-24). "Yahoo Yanks Pedophile Chat After Ads Get Yanked". Archived from the original on 2012-04-02.
  10. ^ "iTunes: Yahoo Messenger – Apple". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Yahoo Messenger – Android". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  12. ^ Spencer Ackerman and James Ball (2014-02-27). "Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "State of the Yahoo! Multiplayer Parlor Games". Yahoo Games. 20 November 2014. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014.
  14. ^ "Yahoo instead-chat room". Retrieved 2018-12-22.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Tired of Yahoo Messenger Spam?". Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  16. ^ Larry Dignan of Zdnet described the spam as becoming insufferable.
  17. ^ "Messenger Help -".
  18. ^ Simpson, Chet. "SPAM Statistics for March 2007". Instant Messenger Anti-Spam Resource Center. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  19. ^ "Measurement and Classification of Humans and Bots in Internet Chat". Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  20. ^ "These May Be the Only People Who Want Yahoo to Thrive". 1 June 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2017 – via
  21. ^ "Subscribe to read". Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Secure Messaging Scorecard. Which apps and tools actually keep your messages safe?". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  24. ^ "Only 6 Messaging Apps Are Truly Secure". PC Magazine. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  25. ^ Perlroth, Nicole; Goel, Vindu (28 September 2016). "Defending Against Hackers Took a Back Seat at Yahoo, Insiders Say". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2016. Jeff Bonforte, the Yahoo senior vice president who oversees its email and messaging services, said in an interview last December that Mr. Stamos and his team had pressed for Yahoo to adopt end-to-end encryption for everything. ... Mr. Bonforte said he resisted the request because it would have hurt Yahoo's ability to index and search message data to provide new user services.

External linksEdit