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How to chat in Gmail with Google Chat

How to chat in Gmail with Google Chat

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How to chat in Gmail with Google Chat

Meta Description: Make collaboration simple and bring your team together with Google Chat in Gmail. Learn how to use Chat in this guide to start taking advantage of Gmail’s built-in communication tools.

Google’s Gmail platform aims to be so much more than just another email service provider; it’s also a place where people can collaborate with their teams, stay connected, and get things done. Google Chat was born out of the shutdown of Google Hangouts in 2022, and all Hangouts users were migrated over.

Older users may get MSN chat vibes from the text windows, but Google Chat also lets you voice and video chat, making it an all-in-one free communication option for Gmail users. Let’s jump into how to use Gmail chat.

Why use Google Chat in Gmail?

You may be thinking, “Why do I need yet another direct messaging app?” Google Chat’s core benefit is accessibility. If you’re signed up, you can use the web version of Gmail or switch to your mobile device and send messages from there as well.

screenshot fo Google Chat homepage

Spaces is one of the key aspects of the Google Chat experience. In Spaces, you can build a dedicated chat window for your team to work within regularly. It includes Files and Tasks tabs, letting you collaborate on projects. Additionally, it’s completely compatible with Google’s other products, such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

screenshot of the Google Chat page space created for the Morning Coffee Crew

Managers even have the option of incorporating bots and other automated solutions right into Spaces. With all of these features, it’s no surprise that Google Chat in Gmail is a competitor to the popular workspace communication platforms, Slack or Microsoft Teams.

How to use Google Chat from your Gmail inbox

Like many of Google’s products, Chat is already integrated into your Gmail account. There’s no need to download or install anything. However, if you can’t see it, there’s a good chance it hasn’t been activated.

How do you know if it’s activated? If you log into Gmail on your desktop’s browser, you should see the Chat icon on the left-hand side of your inbox. (On the Gmail app, you’ll find it at the bottom.)

screenshot of Gmail inbox with the Chat icon encircled at the left sidebar

If you’re ready, here’s how to start a Gmail chat. 

Using the Google Chat window on desktop

  1. Click on the + button in the corner of either Chat or Spaces.
  2. Type an individual’s name into the dropdown menu at the top. Alternatively, select Start Group Conversation to initiate group conversations with multiple Gmail contacts.
  3. Type your message into your new chat window.

Start a chat using the Gmail app on mobile

  1. Tap on the Chat icon.
  2. Tap the New Chat pop-up in the lower-right corner.
  3. Type the name of the person you want to message. Then, launch a group chat by typing the first person's name and tapping on the group icon that appears.
  4. Enter your message to begin chatting.

How to turn the Gmail chat feature on and off

Sometimes, you may want to turn Gmail chat off entirely. Alternatively, you may not have switched it on if you can’t find the Google Chat icon on your desktop or mobile app.

Here’s how to turn it on or off.

On desktop

  1. Open Gmail, and click Settings (the gear icon) in the top-right corner.
  2. Click See All Settings.
  3. Click Chat and Meet at the top.
  4. Look for the option to toggle Google Chat on/off next to Chat.
  5. Click Save Changes.

On mobile

  1. Open your Gmail app, and then tap the menu in the top-left corner, then Settings.
  2. Choose an account if you have multiple Gmail accounts.
  3. Select General > Chat.
  4. Tap Show the Chat and Spaces Tab to turn it on or off.

How to start a group conversation using your Gmail account

Starting a new group chat in Gmail follows the same steps as starting an individual conversation. The only difference is you should select the group chat option.

On your desktop, click the Start Group Conversation option to add multiple people. On mobile, the group conversation option will appear when you type the name/email of your first contact.

It’s that simple!

The difference between Google Chat and Google Spaces

It’s easy to confuse Google Chat with Google Spaces because both allow you to chat with your Gmail contacts. However, they work in different ways. Here’s what each one is designed for:

  • Google Chat is best for one-on-one conversations or group discussions. It’s ideal for meetings and bringing teams together.
  • Google Spaces is a central location where you can assign tasks and share files.

Here’s how to create a Space

  1. On Gmail, click on the + icon on the Chat or Space box to the left of Gmail. On mobile, look for the Spaces icon.
  2. Click Create Space.
  3. Choose a name for your space, and add different people. Note: If they’re not on your contact list, you can still type in their email address to add them.
  4. Click Create.

Anyone you’ve added to your Space will receive an invitation email and a link they can click.

Manage your communications more effectively with Streak

The number of communication apps on the market understandably overwhelms even the most tech-savvy businesses. Although Google Chat and Gmail offer ample native features for collaboration, it’s easy to lose control.

That’s why there’s Streak. For a more strategic approach to internal and external communication, try organizing your messages and workflows right in Gmail using our direct integration. More than 750,000 happy users enjoy our email tracking capabilities, intelligent filtering, and lead management features — and we think you would, too.

Start your 14-day free trial of Streak today to see it for yourself. It only takes 30 seconds to get started.

FAQs about Google Chat

Where is the Chat tab on Gmail?

If you’ve activated Google Chat, you should see the tab on the left-hand side of your Gmail inbox. If you can’t find it, you’ll need to activate it in your Settings.

How do I find someone on Google Chat?

Every time you log in to Google Chat in Gmail, your most recent contacts will appear. Google defines your recent contacts as those you’ve chatted with recently or contacts you email regularly.

If you can’t see your desired contacts, use the search box to find them. Note: Even if you’ve never contacted someone before, you can add their email to invite them to your Google Chat.

Can I add external users to Google Chat?

Users outside of your organization must have a Google account. This could be a Google Workspace user, a Gmail user, or even a non-Gmail user. Learn more here.

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