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Getting Started with Hangouts (Chat)


 Hangouts: Chat basics

With Hangouts, you can start a chat on your computer and continue it on your phone because all of your chats will sync between your mobile app, Gmail, Chrome extension, and Google+. Let’s get started with the basics of chat in the place where you’ll use it most—Gmail.

Find your chat list

  1. Open Gmail.

  2. Make sure that you have turned on Hangouts.

  3. Click the Chat icon on the lower left of your Gmail inbox if you don’t see a chat list.

  4. Resize the chat list by dragging its top divider line if needed.

Find someone to talk to

Your Hangouts list shows people you've recently chatted with, but you can also find anyone in your organization if your administrator has turned on Contact sharing.

  1. Click the magnifying glass next to your name.

  2. Type the name or email address of the person you are looking for in the Search for people field.

When you search, people who are in your company will have a icon below their name.

When you find the person you’re looking for, click their name if you want to start a chat with just them.

If you want to chat with multiple people or start a video call, check the box next to their name.

Once you check a person’s box, they will go to the To: field and you can select more people from your chat list or continue to search for more people to add to your chat.

Once you’re ready to chat, click


Start a chat

Once you’ve chatted with someone, you can find their name already listed in your Hangouts chat list. In that case, just click their name and a Hangouts chat will open up.

  1. Anyone with a green circle next to their picture is ready to chat. People without a green circle are idle or not available to chat. If you chat with someone who’s not active, they’ll get it next time they’re online.

  2. Click someone who has a green circle next to their picture. A chat window will pop up in the lower right corner of Gmail. (If you have the Chrome extension installed, the chat will appear in the lower right corner of your desktop.)

  1. If you want to have a conversation with a group of people, click the add person icon and search for and select others to add to the chat.

  2. Type a message into the Send a message… field and press Enter to send it.

The green line beneath the chat’s header lets you know that the person you are chatting with is active.

Keep the conversation going

Once you start talking with someone, your new messages will be on the bottom of the chat. Your profile picture appears next to the what you say. The date and time that someone sent a chat appears in gray text below the message.

Use the bar on the right side of the Hangouts chat to scroll up through your Hangouts history with someone.

If a person is typing, you see three green dots after their photo.

If a person is viewing the conversation but not typing their photo appears below the text.

A person’s faded photo appears after the last chat they read.

Note: If your chat is set to “History is off”, past messages will disappear after  a day or two.

Show, don’t tell

Show someone exactly what you see by sharing a picture or add some fun to the conversation with emoji.


  1. Click the camera icon on the bottom right.

  2. You can upload a photo from your computer, share from your Google+ albums, search for Youtube videos to share or even take a picture with your computer’s webcam.

  3. Once you’ve chosen a photo, click Select to insert it into your conversation.


  1. Click the smiley face on the bottom left.  

  2. Click through the different categories and chose an emoji by clicking on it once.

  3. You can add as many as you like to the conversation!

Hangouts chat settings

You can set your Hangouts chat options in each conversation.

  1. Click the gear icon and then select what you’d like to change.

  • Uncheck Notifications if you don’t want to be distracted by someone pinging you.

  • Uncheck Hangout history if you don’t want to keep the old chats around to review.

  • Click Archive to remove the person or group chat from your chat list.

  • Click Delete if you want to delete the content of your Hangouts chat.

  • Click Block if you want to prevent that person from chatting with you.

  1. Save your changes.

Chat outside of Gmail

With Hangouts, you can chat in a variety of places. You can start a Hangouts chat in its own browser window, on your desktop, in Google+, or on your phone.

Chat in a browser window

If you want to pop a Hangouts chat out of your Gmail into its own browser window, just click the arrow.

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Chat on your desktop

Answer Hangouts chats right from your desktop.

  1. Install the Chrome extension.

  2. Click the