Google is where the work begins. It’s both the first thing you open when looking for a new idea and the next thing you do with the rest of your project using Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) apps.
Your email partners, contractors, and colleagues all use Gmail. You do calculations in Google Sheets, write reports in Google Docs, and start video calls on Hangouts so that everyone is on the same wavelength of the project. Everything seems to be fine, but what was missing until today was the connection between these services. Absorbed by letters, search histories, notes, and tables, the project becomes apparent only to you alone. And that’s the first reason to use the new Google Hangouts Chat.
Like classic Google Talk text chat and Hangouts video conferencing, the new Hangouts Chat is the easiest way to bounce ideas off your team. The tool that has become the most excellent addition to Google Hangouts Meet video calls and Hangouts Chat chat is wholly focused on business tasks. This time the whole team works in one service.
Here are some tips and tricks on using Hangouts Chat to get the most out of your project.
Conversations in Google Hangouts Chat
Starting hangouts chat is very easy – all you need is a Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) account because everyone from the team is already invited to chat. Hangouts Chat is included in any of the packages (Google Workspace Basic, Google Workspace Business, Google Workspace Enterprise. So if your company uses Gmail, you can already start using Hangouts Chat.
When you first open Google Hangouts Chat on chat.google.com, sign in with your corporate Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) account – you’ll instantly see the rooms you’ve been invited to. You can reply to messages, start a new conversation, or text someone tête-à-tête in the team (if they are not already signed in, they will receive an email invitation, or if they are already using Hangouts, they will receive a direct message there or Gmail).
The first thing you’ll notice about Google Hangouts Chat is the focus on conversations. Slack and older chat apps like AOL Instant Messenger and Google Talk focus on messages, the individual things we talk about in a chat. If you think of saying something, open the necessary Chat. Perhaps the message is related to something you already discussed with your colleagues yesterday. In the Chat, it will still be a new message since it was posted today, while all other messages your group has regularly communicated before will be after it.
You will always have a whole chain of conversations in one place. And in Google Hangouts Chat dialogs, only new ideas will be displayed in new dialogs. All other replies end up in old posts.
Some things in Hangouts Chat are organized in the same way as in old chat apps or channels like Slack. Chats are organized into rooms; when you want to talk to someone, you send them a direct message in a conversation-focused private.
In chat rooms, however, the focus on dialogue differs from how we usually chat.
If you want to share something new – a thought you were thinking about, a document you just completed, a video you found this morning – you open the chat room you want, press the “New Conversation” button at the bottom center, and write a new message. But if you’re the opposite — just coming up with a solution to a problem your team discussed yesterday or thinking of a witty response to your friend’s joke from last week—you’re pulling up early conversations and responding directly to an old post.
Google Hangouts Chat automatically lists conversations with the most recent replies at the bottom of your chat list. It’s actually much easier than it sounds. Whenever you open a room, you first see conversations with the most recent replies. If someone started a new conversation 10 minutes ago and replied to a weekly conversation 5 minutes ago, you will see the two of them when you open Chat.
If you need something older – search to help you! And Hangouts Chat also focuses on dialogue.
Click the search icon at the top of Hangouts Chat, or press Alt + / on PC or Option + / on Mac to search your chats. The search will first check the current room; select All chat rooms and direct messages on the left sidebar to search through all conversations. Then search for what you’re looking for, and Hangouts Chat will show the full dialog with context and a GO TO CHAT button so you can return to that dialog and resume the discussion.
Whether you’re replying to an old conversation or starting a new one, sometimes, text alone isn’t enough. Perhaps you need to contact a colleague by voice or create a video meeting. Hangouts Meet video conferencing is also built into Hangouts Chat. To start a call with everyone in the room, press the Meet button (Chat and video camera icon) in any GO TO CHAT or NEW DIALOGUE field, or dial only one person by opening a direct message with them and pressing the “Meet” button in their dialog.
Share Google Docs (documents), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentations), and Google Drive files
Google Hangouts Chat is designed to work, so it’s no surprise that it works best when using other Google Workspace (ex., G Suite) apps. There is now a permanent Google Drive icon when you click GO TO CHAT or NEW DIALOGUE. Click on it to see the document selection window you used in Google Drive and Sheets. You can select the latest file or search your entire Google Drive account to find the file you want. Or, if you already have a link to a Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Drive file you want to share, simply paste it into the reply box to instantly see a preview of it.
The cool part is that this is all you need to do to share Google Docs or Drive files with other users in a Hangouts chat. Whenever you share a file, Google automatically adds everyone in the room, granting them permission to view and comment so they can see the content you’ve shared. You no longer have to wait to see a document because someone else forgot to turn on sharing in Google Docs.
Search in Hangouts Chat allows you to search for any conversation, after which you can filter by documents, spreadsheets, slides, PDFs, or other files. The search reveals the file in question and the conversation that file is in, so you can get started immediately. It’s also straightforward to find any documents your team is working on.
Stay Focused with Hangouts Chat Notifications
Team chats are one of the best ways to communicate with your entire team, but they’re also one of the most distracting apps you can use. Since the conversations are always about everything, it’s easy to get into too many discussions simultaneously and get distracted from the actual work.
Hangouts Chat solves this problem in several ways. First, the bell. When you start a new conversation, you need to be notified about it. So, Hangouts chat shows a bell in the top corner of every conversation, which will be red by default in every conversation you start. Click the bell to turn off notifications from this conversation (or click the gray bell in any other conversation to be notified of his replies, if you prefer). And, if anyone mentions you or sends you a direct message, you’ll also get a notification.
These notifications will appear in the top right corner of Google Hangouts and other new Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) apps, including Google Photos. Tap the notification to see the message and go straight to the conversation – or tap the back arrow to delete the notification.
Hangouts Chat will default notify you via web and mobile phone and send you an email if you haven’t opened the app in 12 hours. If you don’t want to receive message notifications or want to turn off all notifications, click the gear icon in the top right corner of Hangouts Chat and select Notification settings for your web, email, and mobile notification options.
Or, if one room is particularly “talkative,” click on its menu and select Disable Notifications. This will allow you to receive notifications and messages from other rooms but will prevent this room from distracting you. This is a more relaxed approach to Chat.
Get more done with the hidden features of Hangouts Chat
Once you get used to chatting with your team, sharing Google Docs files to improve your workflow and control your notifications, using Hangouts Chat will become an integral part of every project. But with a few more minutes, you can learn a few extra skills to help you get the most out of Hangouts Chat:
Formatting messages in Hangouts Chat
First, formatting. If you have used Google Talk and Slack, you will notice that the best of these services is implemented in Google Hangouts Chat. You can add italics and another formatting in Google Talk and Google Docs.
To add italics in Hangouts Chat, add underscores around a word or phrase, such as “_word_.”
Add boldness by adding asterisks around a word or phrase, such as “*this*.”
Need to correct something or cross out a word? Add tildes around a word or phrase, like “~word~.”
And if you’re using code, add backticks around the code, like “`word`.”
Then, to add emoji to your Hangouts Chat messages, type : (colon), then start typing your emoji’s name (just like you would in Slack). Hangouts will begin filtering through the emoji options, and when you find the emoji you want, press Enter to add it to your message, or just type in its full name and add a colon on the other end.
Mentioning people in your post works just like Google Docs and Slack comments: type @ followed by the name of the person you want to say. Press Enter to select a person. Hangouts chat will start filtering by the terms of people in your company, with those in this room and others you can invite downstairs.
Sharing content is just as easy. You can paste links in a new conversation or reply window, and Hangouts Chat will automatically show a preview of the image or description of the article you submitted. Your best bet is to use Google links – embed a YouTube video or add a link to Google Maps, and you’ll get an image preview of your entire route. GIF links are not supported yet, but you can upload your own GIFs to play in Hangouts Chat or upload any other file you want to share.
Would you like to edit a post? Press the ↑ arrow while typing in the GO TO CHAT or NEW DIALOGUE field to open the latest you posted and edit it.
Add bots to Hangouts Chat rooms.
Hangouts Chat isn’t just a place to message co-workers – it’s also a place to chat with your apps! The bot can help you book a meeting room, find flights, poll your team, check your calendar, and more. Also, the bots here are much more interactive and powerful than those in similar chat apps.
In Hangouts chats, you can add bots to a specific room or chat with them directly on your own. Several bots are already built for Hangouts chat today, including those for Giphy, MeisterTask, Wrike, Zenefits, Dialpad, Kayak, and more. To find bots, click the SEND MESSAGE TO BOTTOM button in the upper left corner, then in the ENTER MESSAGE TO BOTTOM window, you will be shown many popular bots. Choose one to send a message privately.
Chatting with a bot is a great way to improve your experience in other apps using Hangouts Chat. Say you are planning a trip. Kayak allows you to ask a question about flights for an upcoming trip. You can look at the offers, click on the flight that suits you, and book it from the Kayak website.
Google Meet’s own bot does something similar for meetings. You can ask him to check your Google Calendar or book an appointment with someone else on your team.
Other bots work better in rooms, such as Giphy for GIFs or the Polly bot. To add a bot to a room, type @ followed by the bot’s name in a new conversation or reply. The bot will usually give you a brief description of how to use it and will be ready when your team wants to mention it.
Say you want to poll your team about what to eat for lunch. Add a Polly bot to your room and then point it to the conversation, turning your message into a poll. Or enter @giphy fireworks to congratulate your colleagues with a salute.
Webhooks are a way to receive notifications from many web applications, so you can use them to update your room, such as when you get a new lead, close a deal, start a new project, or anything else. You can also create your own Hangouts Chat bots, or for an easier option, you can add webhooks integration to any room. To do this, click on the room menu and select “Set Up Webhooks,” then add a name and optionally an icon for your web host.
Hangouts Chat will then give you a unique webhook URL for your Chat. Copy this and link to another app like Zapier to send notifications to your Hangouts Chat. And speaking of Zapier, full integration with Hangouts Chat Zapier is coming soon.
Managing Hangouts Chat Rooms
You’ll probably start using Google Hangouts Chat when a colleague or manager invites you to a new Hangouts chat, whether for a new project or to keep track of your team’s work.
Hangouts chat differs from most team chat apps in that its rooms are private – you must be invited to them to chat. This helps keep things focused and may also mean you need to ask others to add you to rooms when you join a project.
Or, if you are starting a project, you can create your own room. Click the + button in the top left corner of a Hangouts chat, select Create Chat Room, then enter a name for your new space.
Then, Hangouts Chat will ask you to add people to your new room. Pick anyone you want or enter your name or email address to search the list. You can add bots simultaneously to bring your favorite apps into the conversation.
Need to add more people? Include them in the chat message, and Hangouts Chat will invite them to the room.
Or, click the room name in the Hangouts chat menu and select SHOW MEMBERS to see everyone in the room, including bots. This is an easy way to directly message someone, remove bots your team no longer uses, or remove someone from a room if needed.
Over time, you will probably end up in too many rooms. You can leave at any time. From the same menu in the header, select EXIT to leave the room. If you ever want to come back, you’ll find it in the Browse Rooms menu, where you can join her without requiring a new invite.
Another option is to click the STAR button in the Hangouts chat menu, which will appear at the top of your room list in the sidebar. This action will keep your most important rooms at the top, no matter how many rooms you are in.
Keyboard Shortcuts in Hangouts Chat
One of the best features of Google Hangouts Chat is its wide range of keyboard shortcuts. Just as you can navigate your Gmail inbox and organize your email without touching your mouse, you can do the same with chats in Google Hangouts Chat.
Let’s say you’re looking for a chat room and haven’t clicked anything yet. Use the up and down arrows to navigate through the dialogs. Find the one you need, press the right arrow or Enter.
Hangouts Chat combines messages sent simultaneously to save space, but if you want to see them, just press down until you get to a numbered message and press Enter to expand all messages.
The answer is also easy. If you have selected a conversation or a message in a conversation, press the R key and start typing to add a new reply, then press Enter to send it. Made a mistake? Press the up arrow ↑ at any time to change the last message in a conversation. Or, to start a new conversation, select a recent conversation and press Tab repeatedly until the NEW DIALOGUE button is selected.
Finished with this conversation and want to switch rooms? Press the left arrow ← to switch to the sidebar, press the up ↑ and down ↓ arrows to switch between chats and direct messages, and the right arrow → or press Enter to select a room. You’ll get used to using the arrows to move around your Hangouts chats and conversations without requiring a mouse.
Or, for a faster way to switch rooms: Press Ctrl+K on PC or CMD+K on Mac to open the Find People, Rooms, Bots menu and enter the person you want to chat with. This is the fastest way to start a conversation.
Need to find an item? Alt + / on PC or Option + / on Mac opens Hangouts chat search, where you can browse chats, documents, files, and more.
More keyboard shortcuts for Hangouts Chat in the Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) documentation.
Hangouts Chat is an exciting new way to keep conversations focused, share your work more efficiently, and interact faster with a fully keyboard-focused interface. So, we’ve mastered the latest Google Workspace app (ex., G Suite) and found new ways to communicate with the team while not letting the team chat be too distracting. And it will be exciting to see powerful new bots coming out in the coming months, tools that allow you to do even more right from the Chat.
Google Hangouts Chat is available in the following Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) packages: Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) Basic, Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) Business, Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) Enterprise. There are also desktop versions available for Mac and PC.
In addition to the Hangouts Chat service, the Google Workspace (ex. G Suite) application package also includes Gmail, Google Drive (Disk), Google Docs (Documents), Google Sheets (Tables), Google Slides (Presentation), Google Sites (Sites), Google Admin (Administration), Google Vault (Safe), Google Calendar (Calendar), Google Meet (Video Conferencing), Google Hangouts (Corporate Chat).