Google Chat User Interface
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How to use Google Chat [Comprehensive Guide]

If you want to find out how to use Google Chat you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post we’ll guide you through the usage of Google Chat and explain in detail how this messaging app works.

We’ve also created a video tutorial about Google Chat that you might want to check out.

How to get started with Google Chat

Before we jump into learning how to use Google Chat let’s first answer the questions: What is Google Chat and who can use it?

Google Chat is Google’s messaging app and it’s one of the many apps that is part of Google Workspace. As such there’s no extra license needed and using the app causes no extra costs.

If you have a Google Workspace account then you have and can use Google Chat. All you have to do is log into your Google Workspace account, click on the Google Apps icon and then click on the Chat icon.

You also can simply type into your browser’s URL field: chat.google.com and it will bring you to the app.

Access Google Chat
Access Google Chat

The Messaging Options

In Google Chat we have two messaging options:

  1. Direct messages (referred to as Chat in the app menu): These are either 1-on-1 chats between two people or group messages. This is critical to understand: You can’t add people from outside your organization to a group message.
  2. Rooms: Rooms are meant to be a central place where people can share files, assign tasks, and stay connected. They’re great for team or project collaboration and communication. Rooms do allow you to add people from outside your organization.

How to send Direct Messages

To start a direct message with a single person you can either click on the + icon in the Chat section or click in the Find people, rooms and bots text field.

In both cases you will be presented with a list of people you frequently chat with as well as the option to search for a person.

How to start a chat with someone
The two options how to start a chat with someone

To start a group conversation click in the Find people, rooms and bots text field and then on Start group conversation. Add all the people you want to the group conversation and then click on the blue round button.

You can also start a group conversation by clicking on the + icon in the Chat section. Then simply add all the people you want to and click on the Create button.

Creating a group message
Creating a group conversation through the Find people, rooms and bots text field

The actual sending of your message is simple: type in whatever it is you want to say and hit Enter on your keyboard or click on the Send icon.

Sending a message
Send a message with Google Chat (group message in this case)

Add options to your messages

In Google Chat you can send more than just text in your messages. You can add emojis (A), share files from your device (B), share files from Google Drive (C), or start a quick video call (D).

In the screenshot below you see that Jane added a quick video call to the message by clicking on the Add video meeting icon (D).

Options for messages
The different options to add to a message

How to create Rooms in Google Chat

Just like with direct messages, you have two options to create a new room: either by clicking on the Find people, rooms and bots text field and then on Create a room or by clicking on the + icon in the Rooms section.

No matter which option you choose you’ll be presented with an interface where you have to decide on the nature of the room.

The obvious decisions to take are the optional emoji (A), the name of the room (B) and the members of the room (C). These three things can be changed once the room has been created.

Next you have to decide if the conversations in the room should be threaded (D) or unthreaded, which is the default setting. The idea behind the threads is that you kind of categorize the conversation into topics (a.k.a. threads) like “Feedback”, “Bugs”, “Important messages”, etc.

Lastly, you have to decide if you want to allow people outside your organization to join the room (E).

The last two settings can’t be changed once you’ve hit the Create button. So make sure to make the suitable settings before proceeding.

Create a room in Google Chat
The settings when creating a room

Some insights into rooms as well as some existing restrictions:

  • If you @mention a person in a message, who is not member of a room, they will automatically be added to that specific room.
  • To create a new thread in a threaded room you click on the + New thread in [Room Name] button. This button is located at the bottom of the Google Chat user interface within the room.
  • In a threaded room a maximum of 8’000 participants can join. In an unthreaded room though, only a maximum of 400 participants can join.
  • Members are notified for conversations they’re in or when @mentioned.
  • Members of a room can leave and rejoin at any point in time.
  • Rooms can’t be deleted! So be careful when creating a new room.

Creating and Assigning Tasks in a Room

As mentioned in the beginning of this post rooms are meant for project work and have a task assigning feature. To actually assign a task to a member of the room we have to switch over to Gmail.

In Gmail we can select the room where we want to create and assign a task. Click on the Tasks tab, then add your task and in the same go assign it to a member of the room.

If you don’t see the chat panel in Gmail you will have to activate it in the settings. Here the instructions on how to do so.

Assigning a task in a room
In Gmail you can create and assign a task in a room

Managing Direct Messages and Rooms

For direct messages as well as for rooms you can find further actions and informations by clicking on the name of the room or the names of the chat participants.

This is where you’ll add people or bots to your group messages and rooms after you’ve initially set them up. 

A yellow badge with the text External signalizes when a person outside your organization is a member of a room.

Manage rooms and chats
Menu with which you can manage direct messages and rooms

In the main menu on the left hover over a chat or room name. Clicking on the three vertical dots that appear brings up a smaller menu with some options. See the screenshot below to follow along with the options.

A) Pin a conversation to the top of your chat menu on the left. This is similar to starring a file in Google Drive.

B) Turn notifications off will only allow @mentions to trigger notifications. 

C) You can Block specific people if you don’t want to receive direct 1-on-1 messages from them. Please note that you can’t block people in group messages or rooms though.

D) You can Hide conversation (direct message). As soon as you chat with that person or group again, though, the message will reappear.

E) You can Delete conversation, including it’s history, that you had with a person. But you can’t delete the history for a group message or room.

More managing of messages
Further options to manage messages

Please note that depending on the configuration your Google Workspace Admin has made you can change wether the history of chats are saved or not. When anyone in a group chat turns history on or off, all chat members will be informed.

In rooms, on the other hand, the chat history is always on.

Do not disturb!

Chatting is all good and nice but from time to time you need absolute quiet. In such cases you click on the Active button at the top of the menu and choose how long you want to mute Google Chat notifications.

Sadly, there’s no way of customizing the duration of the notification mute. Instead, you’ll have to choose from the available default times.

Mute notifications

How about a Bot?

In Google Chat you can install chatbots provided by Google, third-parties or your own company. Please note that your Google Workspace Administrator needs to enable installations of bots for your organization.

To add a bot to Google Chat click on the + sign in the Bots section. When adding a bot you can send it messages or add it to a room so that all members can interact with the bot.

Bots in Google Chat

And now to you

By now you should have a pretty good understanding of how to use Google Chat. Let me know what you think of this blog post. Did you find it to be valuable? Then please do me a favour and share it with your colleagues and friends.

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