Gmail

Chapter 8: Chat instantly in mail

Table of contents

Chat in Apps mail overview

Chat in your inbox

Start a chat

Set a status and message

Turn off chat

Chat notifications

Special links in chat

Save, search, and reply with chat

Save chat conversations

Chat integration with email

Keep chats ‘off the record’

Search chat history

Add, remove, or change those in your chatlist

Automatic chat contacts

Invite someone to chat

Customize your chat list

Block someone from chatting with you

Chat with a group

Group chat overview

Start a group chat

Chat with voice or video

Overview

Start a voice or video chat

Multiple calls at one time

Chat in Apps mail overview

Chat in your inbox

Chat lets you send and receive instant messages with teachers, students, other people at your school/district right in your inbox. You can view your chat list below or above your list of labels and you can have your chat boxes visible in your inbox view or 'pop' them out to view individually.

Your chats also behave like email – Apps mail can save your chats so you can search them later, you can reply to an email with a chat (if the person is available) and have Apps mail save the conversation as well.

Apps mail Chat gets a list of people from your Contacts. You can easily add or remove contacts

You can also communicate face to face with your Gmail contacts using the voice and video chat feature. For more information, go to Voice and Video Chat »

Example:

You receive an email from a teacher, Jeff, asking what time you'll be heading to the staff meeting in the afternoon. You notice that Jeff is also available on chat - so instead of sending an email reply, you click "reply by chat to Jeff." You are able to instantly confirm the time you'll be leaving, as well as exchange some other questions. When you open the email Jeff sent, you can see your entire chat log as part of the email "conversation." You can also find your chat by going to Chats in the left side of your Apps mail window.

Start a chat

You can chat with anyone who has a colored ball (or video camera, if they have video chat enabled) icon next to his or her name. When someone's online, a green, yellow, or red colored ball will appear. You may also see robot icons. This indicates that a contact is available for chat on their Android device.

Here's how to chat with someone who's available:

From Chat:

  1. Find the name of the person you'd like to chat with.
  2. Click the person's name to open a chat window.
  3. Enter your message in the text field, and press Enter.
  4. Wait for your contact to respond!


* You can also search for a contact by entering his or her name in the box at the top of
Chat. Just enter the name of the person you'd like to chat with, and then enter your message in the chat window.

From Contacts:

  1. Click Contacts along the left side of any Gmail page.
  2. Select the name of the person you'd like to chat with, and click the Chat link to open a chat window.
  3. Enter your message in the text field, and press Enter.
  4. Wait for your contact to respond!

When you've finished chatting, click the X in the top right corner of the chat window to close the window.

Set a status and message

You can let your chat contacts be aware of your availability via the 'color' status. You can also set a short 'status message' that your chat contacts can read. Your status message can be anything you want - something funny, your favorite quote, a cool web link, or just a note to say you're hard at work or away from the computer.

To change your 'color' status, under Chat, click the arrow next to Set status here. Select the status you'd like to appear next to your name in your friends' chat lists. Here's what the different statuses mean:

In addition, you can create custom status messages that will appear next to your status 'color' availability. Here's how:

  1. Click on Set status here to set a quick, custom message.
  2. A dialog box will open. Enter your current status in the box and then press Enter or Return on your keyboard.
  3. Your custom message will now be displayed below your name in the chat window. It will also be displayed when a contact clicks on your name in the chat window.
  4. To clear your custom message, click the text under your name in Chat and delete it, or select another message from the status drop-down menu.

You can also set your status by clicking the small drop-down arrow next to your name in the chat list. This provides you access to prior custom status messages as well as the ability to go ‘Invisible’.

If you also use the downloadable Google Talk client or the Google Talk Gadget, your status will be shared by the applications, as long as you're signed in to all of them. Please note however, that if you've set your status to 'Invisible,' and sign in to the Google Talk client, you will not be kept 'Invisible,' as the Google Talk client doesn't currently have the 'Invisible' status feature. Keep in mind that you can sign out of chat in Gmail, and still be online through Google Talk and vice versa.

More information:

Turn off chat

There are times and places to chat in your school Apps mail account. If that's not your time or place, you can follow the instructions to turn chat off.

To stop chatting for the time being:

  1. Under Chat, click the arrow next to Set status here.
  2. Select Sign out of chat.

After you sign out, your contacts won't be able to see you online or IM you from within Gmail, and you won't be able to see or contact them, either. If you use Google Talk and are signed in after signing out of chat in Gmail, your friends will still be able to see you online and chat with you through Google Talk.

To turn off chat in Apps mail:

  1. Click the small drop-down arrow next to the Chat and SMS box. Then select Sign out of chat.

You will be signed out of chat, and your Chat list will be minimized. To turn chat back on, just click turn on chat.

Chat notifications

If you have Flash enabled on your computer, Apps mail will play an audio notification for each incoming chat. Audio notifications are turned on by default, but you can always turn them off. Here's how:

  1. Click the gear icon at the top of any Apps mail page, select Mail Settings and open the Chat tab.
  2. In the Sounds section, select Sounds off.
  3. Click Save Changes.

Special links in chat

Chat in your Apps mail inbox recognizes Google Video and YouTube URLs as media and automatically converts them to video inside your chat window.

This means you can use chat to send someone at your school a link to the video, 'Chat In The Name Of Love' (performed by a cast of Gmail engineers).

In addition to the link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVuXmmXOIj0, they'll see the video itself, and can press the play button to watch it inside the chat window.

Save, search, and reply with chat

Save chat conversations

Your Apps mail Chat history allows you to store the text of your chats in your Apps mail account so you can easily search for them later. You can even respond to these chats like you would to regular Gmail messages.

To access your chat history, click the Chats label in your Apps mail account. A list of chats will appear, similar to the way conversations are listed in your inbox. You can forward, label, star, and trash chats just like regular Apps mail messages.

When you search in Apps mail, matching chat conversations will show up along with matching email conversations. All chats are labeled Chats and are marked with the chat icon () so you can easily distinguish them from emails.

You can adjust your chat history settings in Apps mail:

  1. Click Settings at the top of any Apps mail page, and open the Chat tab.
  2. From the Chat tab:
  1. Click Save Changes.

Keep in mind that if you've disabled chat history saving, people you chat with may still choose to save chat histories in their Gmail settings. If you would prefer that someone you're talking to doesn't save your chat, you can take the conversation off the record.

Chat integration with email

Reply by chat lets you and other contacts at your school (students, teachers, staff) discuss an email you've sent or received using instant messaging. If you've turned on the Save chat history option in your Apps mail settings, it also groups your chat history in the same conversation as the message you're chatting about. This way, you can keep all of your communications in context. In other words, the text of the chat that occurs after you start using Reply by Chat, will be saved as a 'message' in your email conversation. To learn more about conversations, review Chapter 2: Emails grouped by conversation »

Here's how to reply by chat:

  1. Open the message you'd like to chat about, and make sure the sender is online and available to chat.
  2. Click Reply by chat at the bottom of the message.
  1. Click the X in the top-right corner of the chat window when you're done discussing the e-mail.

Please note: Chat histories are only grouped with conversations when you use the Reply by chat feature. If you close a chat window after you discuss an email with someone, and then initiate a new chat, your chat history won't be grouped with a conversation.

Keep chats ‘off the record’

Sometimes you do not want to keep the text of your chats for legal or personal reasons. If that's the case, you can take a chat 'off the record.' Chats that have been taken off the record aren't stored in your Apps mail chat history, or in the Apps mail chat history of your contact.

You and the person you're talking to can both see when a chat is taken off the record, and you'll be notified if off the record mode is turned off. Your off the record settings will apply whenever you chat with this person, until one of you makes a change.

To take a chat off the record:

  1. Click the down arrow at the top-right corner of the chat window.
  2. Select Go off the record.

To see a demonstration of going off the record, or turning off your chat history, click the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBwkvnyLXDE

When you take a chat off the record, a message will appear confirming that future chats with this particular contact won't be saved, unless one of you changes the setting. If you decide at any time that your chats no longer need to be off the record, click Cancel at the top of the chat window, or Stop chatting off the record in the chat window's Options menu.

Search chat history

When you complete a search in Apps mail, you will automatically include any chats that are saved in your chat history in search results. If you are looking specifically for information stored in a chat, you can take advantage of the advanced search operators to search just within your Chats label. To learn more about search operators, review Chapter 4 - Search tips for finding email »

Suppose you had a chat conversation with another teacher, Jenny. You remember at some point in the past month she had mentioned a great resource for students about video editing. The information is somewhere in a chat with her, and you have chat history turned on, so you conduct a search for it in the Apps mail search box:

label:Chats Jenny video editing

This query will then search just your chat conversations that involve Jenny, and pull results that match video editing.

You can also do a general search in your Chats by just using the 'label:Chats ' search operator. This will search all saved chat text, with everyone in your Chat history.

Add, remove, or change those in your chatlist

Automatic chat contacts

To get you started with chat, Apps mail automatically determines some contacts that you have frequently emailed and adds them to your Chat list. This way you'll be able to chat and see other Apps members at your school online without having to send an invitation.

If you don't want Apps mail to automatically turn on chat privileges with your most frequent contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Click Settings at the top of any Apps mail page.
  2. Open the Chat tab, and select Only allow people that I've explicitly approved to chat with me and see when I'm online.
  3. Click Save Changes.

Invite someone to chat

Before you can chat with someone in Apps mail (besides the automatic contacts Apps mail lists), you'll need to invite them by following the instructions below.

Your friend or colleague will see the invitation above their Contacts list in Apps mail asking if they'd like to be able to chat with you. Until they accept, you'll see 'Invited' next to their name in your Chat list.

 

Once they've accepted your invitation, you'll see a status button to the left of their name in your Chat list, which indicates whether they're available (green), busy (red), idle (yellow), or offline (gray). At that point, just click on their name to send them a chat message.

To invite an Apps mail user:

  1. In the 'Search, add, or invite' box at the top of the Chat area, type your friend's username. If they're already in your Contacts, Apps mail will pre-populate their username.
  2. Click Invite to chat.
  3. In the window that appears, click Send Invites. A yellow notification banner lets you know your invitation has been sent successfully.

Alternatively, you can click Add Contact at the bottom of the Chat area, enter your friend's username, and then click Send Invites. If you invite someone who doesn't use Apps mail, we'll send an email asking them to sign up for one of these products.

Customize your chat list

You can change the way your chat list looks to make it easier for you to use. You can choose how many contacts you would like to display, where your chat list appears in the left side of Apps mail, and also who will always appear in your chat list.

To change the size of your chat list:

  1. At the bottom of your chat list, select Options next to Add Contact.
  2. Choose the size of your chat list by selecting Tiny, Small, Medium, or Large.

You can also minimize your chat list -- just click Chat at the top of your chat list.

If you like, you can move the Chat list to appear below your list of labels, instead of the default of appearing above. To move the chat list so it displays under Labels:

  1. Click Settings at the top of any Apps mail page, and open the Chat tab.
  2. Select below from the Chat list location: drop-down.
  3. Click Save Changes.

You can't reorder the contacts in your chat list, but Apps mail's auto-show feature organizes your contacts for you, based on how often you communicate with them. However, you can make sure certain contacts always appear in your list.

Apps mail's auto-show feature automatically selects the people who appear in Chat based on the people you already communicate with most often. If you'd like to add someone so he or she always appears in Chat, follow these steps:

  1. Click Contacts along the left side of any Apps mail page.
  2. From the All Contacts list, select the person you'd like to add.
  3. Beside Show in chat list:, select Always.

Block someone from chatting with you

Occasionally you may need to prevent someone from chatting with you online in Apps mail. Blocking a contact prevents the person from talking to you and seeing when you're signed in to Apps mail or Google Talk. Perhaps you want to block students from seeing when you are are online. Here's how:

  1. Click Contacts along the left side of any Apps mail page.
  2. Select the person you'd like to block.
  3. Beside Show in chat list:, select Block.

You can always unblock a contact as well. If you decide you'd like to communicate with someone you've blocked, just select Always or Auto from the menu beside Show in chat list:.

You can also unblock a contact by typing their name in the Search, add, or invite field at the top of your Chat list. Then, in the blue box that appears, hover over your contact's name and select Show in chat list.

Chat with a group

Group chat overview

The group chat feature lets you chat with many different contacts at once. There's no limit to the number of people you can chat with, and any participant can invite others to join. Group chat acts just as regular chat, except with more people sending and receiving the short messages.

You can take advantage of group chat in a variety of ways:

Start a group chat

To start a group chat with your contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Start a chat with a single person in your Contacts list.
  2. Once you've started the chat, click Options at the bottom left of your chat window and select Group Chat.
  3. In the field labeled 'Add a person to this chat,' enter the name of the contact(s) you want to add to your group chat.

To end your chat, click the X at the corner of the chat window. Others in the group chat will get a message saying that you've left the conversation. If you want to rejoin, you'll need to be invited back by a contact who's still in the group chat.

The group chat will continue until everyone in the group has left.

Chat with voice or video

Overview

Since sometimes explaining yourself in person is quicker than typing out an idea and waiting for a response, you can now use voice and video capabilities in your Apps mail chat. From within Apps mail, you can have an actual conversation with someone (seriously, out loud), or even chat face to face over video.

This can be great in the classroom for one-on-one conferences with other school colleagues or parents (provided that the parents have a regular Gmail account and video chat enabled, you can also video chat with them). You can also save on cell phone minutes and avoid finding phone numbers using the contact-to-contact voice chat.

See how it works with this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JFGJRfoK9xQ

Start a voice or video chat

Unlike regular chat in Apps mail, you will need to download something for your browser to start using voice and video chat. Here's what you'll need to get started:

If your colleague doesn't have a camera next to their name in your chat list, you can invite them to download the Gmail voice and video chat plug-in from the Video & more menu in a chat window. Even if your friend doesn't have a video camera, you can still have a voice chat or a 1-way video chat.

Many laptops and computers come with cameras built-in, but if you don't have one yet and want to get one, here are some cameras that we know work well with voice and video chat:

Multiple calls at one time

If you’re in a voice call and make a second one, your first call will be put on hold while you talk on your new call. You can switch between calls by pressing the “Resume” button on the call you want to talk on, which will automatically put the previous call on hold.

Receiving incoming calls while you're in another call is just as easy: you'll receive a notification of the incoming call and can choose to accept it or not. If you take the new call, the previous call will be put on hold.

Whether you make a second call or not, you can now put any call on hold — useful in case you need to talk to someone in the room or grab something off the stove. Just press the “Hold” button and then “Resume” to start talking again.

This feature works across all call types (voice, video, and phone); the only restriction is that a maximum of two outgoing calls to physical phones can be placed at once.