CU-SeeMe is desktop videoconferencing software originally developed by Tim Dorcey and Cornell University. It works on both Macs and PCs. It allows up to eight people to talk to one another, and to see each other if they have cameras attached to their computers. There is also a text chat window available for computers without sound capability. Microsoft's NetMeeting is probably the other widely used piece of software which has video capability.

This is a very cost effective alternative to conventional video-conferencing, but it does take a little time to get used to and to get the software working properly on your computer. Some people have been successful in using it from the minute they install the software, but most people need to spend a bit of time working at it. Each new version of the software improves it considerably. The sound quality is very good, and the video quality is generally acceptable, but don't expect frame rates of more thhan 1 or 2 per second if you are using a modem.

To be able to talk and listen you will need a computer with sound capability, a microphone and speakers. Most Macs have acceptable internal speakers, and many have a microphone built in, though an external microphone will give better results. PCs with a sound card will have connections for speakers and microphones built in.

If you wish to talk directly to one other person, once you have both connected to the internet, start up CU-SeeMe and then send an email to the other person to let them know your current IP address. On a PC the IP of their machine is shown in their Status Bar (go to View, Status Bar to display it). Then you can type in their IP address to connect directly to their computer.

If you want to talk to many people at once then you need to use a "reflector" to send your sound and video to the other people connectedto the same reflector. There are many thousands of reflectors running around the world, but be aware that many of them are likely to be used by some very "unusual" people!

The CU-SeeMe Network page ( contains links to and information about available reflectors.

If somebody cannot talk or receive through a reflector, try connecting directly to the IP of that person. On a PC the IP of their machine is shown in their Status Bar (go to View, Status Bar to display it)

If using a PC, Ensure that the Receive Audio checkbox is ticked. This is located in the Audio window.

Audio settings that seem to work best on a PC are Delay = Medium, Codec = Intel DVI

Audio on a Mac should be set to 100 ms sound packets using the Intel DVI (32 kb/s) audio codec.

This apparently gives the best level of compatability between the different versions of CUSeeMe and the different platforms it is available for.

Mac users should select the push to talk option rather than voice activated. They should also ensure that they click on the Hear Lurkers option in their main control panel.

All users should ensure that the both the Audio window and the Chat Window are open at the start of a conference.

We have found it best to type in questions and have the person answering the question speak, or for participants to flag their intention to speak, in the chat window, and then have the chair of the meeting recognise the next speaker.

If sound quality is terrible, one possible solution is to stop sending and receiving video. This frees up bandwidth for the sound.

Sites which give specific information about using and downloading the non-commercial version of CU-SeeMe

Visit the CU-SeeMe Network ( and the CU-SeeMe Cool Site ( for lots of information about the software, downloads for all available platforms, as well as tips on how to make it work properly on your system.

Practical Advice on installing and using CU-SeeMe.

If people were trying to set up CU-SeeMe for the first time, this is how we advised them to test it:

  • load it onto two machines in your office;
  • connect from machine to machine directly using the IP addresses of your computers (you can see the IP number that you need in the bottom right hand corner of the main window); then
  • connect both machines to a reflector to try communicating from machine to machine

This is still a fairly new technology, so it is reasonable to expect problems and minor hassles while getting used to the software. Persevere with using it though, the programs are getting better by the week!