How to Chat in Google Docs

Streamline collaboration while you write

Google Docs is one of the best free online word processors out there. Besides making it easy to create and save documents, it also offers powerful collaboration features that make it simple for you and others to share comments and provide instant feedback on documents. Thanks to Google Docs chat, it's super easy to talk with others while they look over your document, making getting the job done as smooth as if you were sitting right next to them. 

Here's everything you need to know about how to chat in Google Docs, and how to collaborate effectively. 

Why Should I Use Google Docs to Chat?

Wondering why it's even worth setting up Google Docs chat? There are a few key reasons why it's useful.

  • It's fast. Rather than needing to send emails back and forth, you can message right there and then. It's far quicker. 
  • It's more convenient. Besides the speed aspect, if someone asks you to tweak something in a document and the document is right in front of you, it's easier to make the adjustments all within one window.
  • It saves time. Not having to switch between different apps saves time and effort.

How to Open Chat in Google Docs

To be able to chat with someone via Google Docs, you need to share the document with them first, as well as be online at the same time. Here's what to do to get started. 

You can complete these steps through any web browser.

  1. Go to https://docs.google.com/

    You may need to log into your Google account first.

  2. Click the document you want to chat in.

    Google Docs with opening a document highlighted
  3. Click Share.

    Google Docs with the share document button highlighted
  4. Enter the email address of the person you want to share the document with.

  5. Click Done.

    Google Docs with Share with Others dialog highlighted
  6. The document is now successfully shared with them. 

How to Chat on Google Docs

Once two or more of you have access to a Google Docs document, you can start chatting.

Chat only works if more than one person is active in the document. You can't chat with someone if they're not currently looking at the document. Instead, it's better to leave comments. 

  1. Go to https://docs.google.com/

    You may need to log into your Google account first.

  2. Open the document you want to chat in.

  3. Click on the Show Chat thumbnail in the top right hand corner of the screen.

    Google Docs with Show Chat button highlighted
  4. Type the message you want to send then tap Enter to send it.

    Google Docs with Chat window open
  5. If the other person doesn't have chat open, a notification will appear for them stating they have an unread message.

What Can't You Do via Google Docs Chat?

Google Docs chat is very useful but there are some limitations. 

  • You can't send files or attachments. To share separate files with someone, you need to upload them to Google Drive and share them that way. 
  • You both need to be online. If one of you isn't in the document, you can't chat. Add comments to the document instead.
  • You can't save the chat. If you want to store what was said for future reference, you can't. Your only option is to copy and paste rather than export the chat like you can with other messaging apps. 
  • You can't chat to individuals. Group chat is the only option here so if many people are looking at the document, they will all receive the messages you send.