How to Start a Chat Session in Gmail

Use Google Hangouts to send instant messages right from your Gmail screen

Gmail is a great email client, but if you want more immediate communication, Google Hangouts lets you get in touch with others instantly via chat, voice, or video. It's easy to access Google Hangouts right from Gmail. Here's how it works.

Hangouts also has standalone mobile apps for iOS and Android, so you can chat with contacts without opening Gmail. Or, start a Hangouts chat via a web browser.

Start a Hangouts Chat in Gmail

Follow these steps to initiate a Google Hangouts chat session.

  1. Find Hangouts in the lower-left section of your Gmail inbox screen. You'll see any current Hangouts contacts listed below your name.

    Gmail inbox screen with Hangouts section highlighted
  2. To add a contact, select the plus sign (+).

    Gmail Hangouts with plus sign highlighted
  3. Use the search bar to look for someone. Choose a contact who's already using Hangouts, or send an invitation to chat with someone who's not currently using it.

    Google Hangouts with new contact interface highlighted
  4. To send a chat, hover your cursor over a contact and select Chat (quote bubble icon).

    Google Hangouts chat with the chat icon highlighted
  5. A new chatbox appears in the bottom-right corner of Gmail. Type your message into the text field and press Enter on your keyboard to send it. Your message appears in the window. When your contact responds, their messages appear in the window as well, similar to a text conversation.

    Google Hangouts chat
  6. Use the controls to pop the window out (arrow), start a video call (video camera), or create a group Hangout (person with plus-sign). When finished, close the window by selecting X.

    Hangouts chat controls and options highlighted
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