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A Complete Guide for Using the Gmail Chat Options

written by: rfreshour•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 2/10/2010

The Gmail chat feature allows you to chat with your other contacts while signed in to your Gmail account. You can chat with one person or multiple people. Gmail chat even has chat emoticons to help you express exactly what you are feeling.

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    Starting a New Gmail Chat

    Gmail has a Chat feature that allows you to chat with other contacts from directly within Gmail. You can chat with one contact or a group of contacts. You can even open a chat from the contact list or you can reply to an email from a contact by chat.

    To open a chat with a single contact, look in your contacts list to see if they are available - online and have Gmail Chat enabled. If the contact that you would like to chat with is available, a green button appears next to their name in the contact list. If available, click on the name of the person you wish to chat with and in the menu that appears, click the conversation bubble to open a chat window. Then all you have to do is type your message and press the Enter key to begin chatting.

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    Gmail Chat Options

    The Gmail Chat options that you can change include:

    • The Block feature allows you to block incoming chats from contacts that you do not wish to chat with.
    • The Pop Out option will “pop” the chat box out of the Gmail page to allow you to navigate other sites or programs while chatting.
    • The Pop In option returns the chat to an open Web page.
    • Click the Smile Icon, to choose from and add different types of emoticons to your chat conversations.
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    Turn Off Auto-Approve of Contacts

    Gmail will automatically allow frequently used contacts with a Gmail account to chat with you. To turn this feature off so that you're not bothered by incoming chats:

    1.   Log into Gmail.

    2.   Click the Settings tab in the top right corner of any Gmail window.

    3.   Click the Chat tab.

    4.   Select Only Allow People That I’ve Explicitly Approved to Chat with Me and See When I’m Online.

    5.   Click Save Changes.

    You have now successfully blocked unwanted contacts from chatting with you.

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    How to Disable the Gmail Chat Feature

    You can also disable the chat function completely if you do not wish to have it operational when you are checking your email from the Web interface. To view Gmail without the chat function turned on, click the Turn off Chat link at the bottom of any Gmail window.  This will sign you out of chat and your chat list will be minimized. When you wish to turn chat back on, click the Standard or Turn on Chat links.

    You can also reply to an email by initiating a Gmail chat. Use the following steps to reply by chat:

    1.   Log into your Gmail account.

    2.   Make sure the sender of the email is available to chat by finding them in your contacts list and checking for the green button next to their name.

    3.   Open the message that you wish to chat with the sender about.

    4.   Click the Reply by Chat link at the bottom of the email.

    5.   The Gmail chat window appears and you can begin your conversation.

    To leave a chat, click on the X in the upper right corner of the chat window. This closes the chat. If Chat History is enabled, any chat that you have will be saved in transcript form in the Chats section of Gmail. When you reply to a message by chat, the chat transcript will be grouped with that email, making it easier to locate if needed in the future.

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