How to Prevent Gmail From Revealing Your Online Status

Turn off your chat status in Gmail

Kids using a laptop with one using a headset

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When you communicate through Google Hangouts with one of your contacts, Gmail adds them to the panel on the left of the email screen for fast and convenient access. Click a name or image in the panel to open a chat window where you can start a text or video chat. You can see when any of these Hangout contacts are online. They can see when you are online, too.

Chat Contacts See When You Are Online and Can Chat Instantly

Your friend or colleague can automatically see when you are online throughout the Google Talk network — via Gmail, for example — and available for chat. If you can forego that convenience and want to decide for yourself when your contacts can tell whether you are online, Gmail provides this level of control as well. 

Prevent Gmail From Automatically Revealing Your Online Status

To protect your online status from showing up automatically in Gmail and turn off the chat feature for all your contacts.

  1. Click the Gear (Settings) icon in the top right corner from any screen in Gmail.

    Turn off Gmail conversation view
  2. Click Settings in the menu that appears.

    Turn off Gmail Conversation View
  3. Select the Chat tab.

    How to be invisible in Hangouts
  4. Click the radio button next to Chat off to hide your online status and chat availability.

    How to be invisible in Hangouts
  5. Click Save Changes. Gmail will reload, and the chat window will no longer be visible.

How to Mute Notifications in Gmail

Here's what to do if you only want to mute the notifications of chat for a set amount of time.

If you mute notifications, people will still be able to see that you're online, but you won't receive alerts if they message you.

  1. Click the arrow next to your name in the chat panel.

    How to mute notifications in Gchat
  2. In the next menu, click the Mute Notifications for... drop-down menu.

    How to mute notifications in Gmail
  3. Click the amount of time you'd like to mute notifications. You can silence them for 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, or 24 hours, three days, or a week. Click Resume under your name to unmute the notifications before the block expires.

Controlling Invites in Hangouts

Customize invitations in Google Hangouts

Invisible Mode may not exist anymore, but you have some control over who contacts you. Go back into the menu under the arrow next to your name, and then select Customize Invite Settings. The next screen contains controls that allow specified groups of people to contact you directly or send you an invitation.