How to Start a Chat Session in Gmail

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

What to Know

  • In lower-left corner, find Hangouts > select plus (+) to add contact > search for contact with name, email, or phone.
  • Next, hover over contact > select Chat icon to start or open a text chat.
  • Next, select video camera to make a video call or person with plus (+) to make a group Hangout.

This article explains how to start a chat session in Gmail using Google Hangouts.

Google Hangouts has been discontinued, so some features are no longer supported and have been moved to Google Meet and Google Chat.

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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