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Hate your friend's avatar? Redo it

An interactive avatar for Yahoo Messenger has you giving your friends' avatars hair cuts, new duds, and possibly a hearty guffaw.

CNET Networks

The truth is, some people just don't have much style; and it's up to you to usher in the revelation.

That's one way to look at a Yahoo Messenger plug-in that helps you give your buddies' avatars a makeover (see special feature for more on avatars). Back in the old days, before plug-ins were invented, we had to coax and needle our contacts for permission to outfit them with some fancy new 'dos and duds. Now we can mount an indirect atta--suggestion--for avatar rebirth, all in the name of good chatting fun.

The process is simple. Click the plug-in button in the main chat window and choose your first model from the contact list. The interface lets you create an avatar from scratch if your contact doesn't already have one, or loads your contact's avatar if they do. You can choose or change gender, apparel, and accoutrements in a similar interface as you create your Yahoo avatar online. There are minor differences--like scrolling down through choices instead of flipping through them--and the plug-in architecture is more compact overall.

Click the plug-in button in the program window to begin. CNET Networks

You can still search for extras like hats, backdrops, and pets in a search bar, which saves some time, and there are small buttons to undo, redo, and reset your selections. Hover the cursor over an item to delete it or search for similar items.

Click the wand-shaped "makeover magic" button at any time throughout the process to create a randomly chosen look, or carefully construct your own to show off. The makeover plug-in automatically inserts a link into an IM message to your contact. If your buddy likes it, they can save changes to adopt or adapt your look.

Now if only you could name your creation and get a byline. Avatar by Jessica, indeed!

Get the Avatar Makeover plug-in.