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Tech Tip: Getting Chatty in Gmail

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Credit The New York Times

Q. When using Gmail in a browser, what is the difference between Google Chat and Google Hangouts?

A. Google’s Chat function, also known as Google Talk or Gchat, is an older text-messaging system built into the web-based Gmail service and the Google Plus social network. Fairly unobtrusive and simple to use, the chat feature has its fans because it makes it easy to send messages quickly to people. Chats between Gmail users can also be archived and searched. With the proper hardware and plug-in software installed, Chat users can make voice and video calls between computers.

Google Hangouts is a newer communications tool that can send and receive text messages from the Gmail window and more. When everyone involved is using Hangouts, users can make voice and video calls among two to nine participants, exchange videos and photos, make telephone calls or even share a computer screen.

Hangouts is currently Gmail’s default chat application, but if you prefer the older Chat service, you can switch back — at least until Google retires Chat for good. To change from Hangouts to Chat, log in to your Gmail account and click the Hangouts icon on the left side of the screen if you do not see your list of acquaintances showing.

In the Hangouts column, click the menu arrow next to your name. In the window showing your status and notifications options, click the “Revert to old chat” button at the bottom. In the alert box that appears, confirm your decision to change back to Chat. If you ever want to return to Hangouts, click the menu arrow next to your name again and choose “Try the new Hangouts.”

Google Hangouts also has a mobile app for Android and iOS. The company announced two more messaging apps last spring, Allo (a “smart” instant messenger that makes use of the company’s predictive Google Assistant technology) and Duo (a new video-calling program).

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NYT > Technology

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