How to Use Google Chat

You can send messages from a web browser, desktop or mobile apps

What to Know

  • Open the Google Chat app or use Google's chat site in a web browser.
  • Select the contact you want to message.
  • Type your message in the text field, then tap the Send icon.

Google Chat is the company's new web messaging service and a replacement for Google Hangouts. This article explains how to use Google Chat.

How to Set Up Google Chat

Setting up Google Chat is as simple as logging in to the service or app with your Google account. While there are apps for Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS, you can use Google Chat in a web browser without installing any software. Using it in a web browser is identical to the desktop app.

Android and iOS users must download the Google Chat app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Once installed, users should open the app and log in with a Google account.

How to Send a Message on Google Chat for PC or Mac

You can use Google Chat in a browser or the dedicated app. The steps below apply to both the web app and desktop app on Windows, macOS, Linux, and ChromeOS.

  1. Select the + icon above your Chat contact list.

    Add (+) highlighted in the Google Chat web app
  2. Type in the name or Gmail address of the contact you want to message and select the contact once they appear.

    A list of contacts shown in the Google Chat app search window.
  3. Type your message in the chat box.

  4. Press Enter on your keyboard. Alternatively, select the Send icon with a mouse or touchscreen.

    Send message icon in the Google Chat web app.

You can also use the steps above to start a group message or create a space. After selecting the + icon, choose Start group conversation or Create space instead of searching for a contact.

Google Chat has a chronological history of recent Chat conversations on app's left sidebar. Use this to quickly open any recent Chat conversation.

How to Send a Message in Google Chat for Android or iOS

The steps below apply to the Google Chat app on Android and iOS devices.

  1. Select New Chat to start a new conversation.

  2. Search for the contact you want to message by typing their name or Gmail address. Select the contact when they appear.

  3. Enter your message in the text field at the bottom of the Chat.

  4. Tap Send.

    New Chat, Search field, and Send icon highlighted in the Google Chat app for iOS.
  5. The Google Chat app for Android and iOS presents a list of recent contacts when you open the app. Tap any visible contact to resume a prior conversation.

Google Chat vs. Google Hangouts

Google released a web messaging service called Hangouts in 2013. Hangouts supported a variety of web messaging features, plus video conferencing, SMS/MMS texting, and even phone calls (in some situations). Hangouts is now discontinued.

Google Chat is a continuation of Hangout's web messaging features. Your past Hangouts message history will automatically appear in Chat. However, Chat lacks some features, such as video conferencing, SMS/MMS texting, and phone calls, that were supported in Hangouts, although you can still use Google Voice and Google Meet for those.

What Are Spaces, and How Are They Different from Chat?

Google Chat supports two forms of messaging: direct messages and Spaces.

Direct messages are person-to-person web messaging, similar to messaging apps like iMessage or WeChat. Messages are shared only with the contacts you include in the message.

Spaces function more like a chat and productivity service like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Users can join or leave without changing the history of messages shown. Spaces supports threaded conversations, shared files, and tasks.

You can start a Google Space by selecting Create Space instead of searching for a contact. Alternatively, you can view, start, and join Spaces by tapping the Spaces icon (which looks like a group of people) at the bottom of the app.

  • What does idle mean in Google Chat?

    If you see an orange bubble next to someone's name, it means that they are idle, or they haven't been active in Gmail or Google Chat for at least 5 minutes.

  • How do I delete a Google Chat room?

    Open the Google Chat Space you want to delete. At the top of the window next to the Space name, select the down-arrow > Delete > Delete. You can only delete Spaces you created.

  • How do I chat in Google Docs?

    To chat in Google Docs, share the document with the person you want to collaborate with. Then, select Show Chat in the upper-right corner (it looks like the silhouette of a person with a chat bubble next to it).

  • How do I turn off history in Google Chat?

    At the top of the chat conversation, tap the down arrow to open Conversation Options. Then, select Turn off history.

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