Tech Tip: Flexible Chat

Google Chat is great for quick questions, sharing links quickly, or following a conversation throughout the day. But sometimes the default setup can make it get in the way. These quick tweaks change where it shows up, what is saved and who you’re connecting with.

I covered other tips for recent additions to Chat like turning it off or remaining hidden in the Chat Upgrades post in January. A few of those tips have changed since then – especially the Hangouts app.

Clearing space in Gmail

If you don’t use chat all the time and just want to simplify access to your folder list, I still recommend the Gmail Lab “Right Side Chat”:

Move chat to the right side

Move chat to the right side


Here’s the result:

Chat without Gmail – “Hangouts”

Google Hangouts offers a variety of more advanced features for Google Chat. It no longer requires a Google+ account, but you will find those features are already available in Gmail if you have created a Google+ account.

Want to use it directly? Go to https://hangouts.google.com/ and you’ll get a guided tour of the tool

here’s what a Hangouts chat looks like next to a basic chat box:

You can also run Google Hangouts without having any browser open at all – install the Google Hangouts App (which uses the Chrome Apps Launcher) and you can have it as a separate window.

The Hangouts app is available for Mac or PC

Expanding Hangouts

On the record:

Want to keep track of links you’ve been sent or a conversation you had in a hangout? Be sure to turn History on – but this will depend on the individual person or people you’re chatting with – it’s not a global change.

The setting is found under the Gear icon in Gmail when you have a chat window open or from the options menu in Hangouts.

Group Chat:

Want to include more people in a chat? Use the search button in Gmail or the Plus button in Google Hangouts App to start adding people to a list. You can search by name or check off their profiles if they come up from recent conversations.


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Emily Barney

Technology Training & Marketing Librarian

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