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Chat history

Google Hangouts replaces all other chat experiences, and is is enabled by default for new organizations. Google Apps accounts created before July 2015, however, may include a previous option, such as Google Talk. To give users more chat features, such as the ability to share photos or have larger group conversations, turn on Hangouts chat instead.

Chat history allows users to store the text of their chats in their Gmail account so they can easily search for them later. Users can then respond to these chats like they would respond to regular Gmail messages. Chats are found in Gmail under the Chats label.

As the administrator of the domain, you can disable chat history for all users at your domain. If you do, any future chat discussions your users have won't be archived in their Gmail accounts. If chat history was enabled in the past, your users may still have some chat conversations archived after you disable the feature.

Notes

Even if chat history is turned off, it’s possible that a separate copy of the conversation can be saved by another participant using a 3rd-party client.
  • Chat history is not saved for organizations that have Gmail turned off.
  • Chat History settings may not be preserved when the G Suite chat service is changed (for example, if you switch from Hangouts chat to Google Talk).
Is chat history enabled by default?

Yes, chat history is on by default for both Hangouts chat and Google Talk.

You can turn chat history off, if necessary. Changes only impact new messages, so any previously saved conversations are not deleted. See Chat Settings for more information.

How can we turn chat history off for all users?
If using Hangouts chat only

To disable chat history so messages are not saved, enable Hangouts chat only, turn chat history off, and select the option Don’t allow users to change this setting. Changes only impact new messages, so any previously saved messages are not deleted.

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console.
  2. Click Apps > G Suite > Talk/Hangouts.
  3. Click Advanced Settings.
  4. In the Chat section, select Hangouts chat only.
  5. Under Chat History, select History Off and check the option Don’t allow users to change this setting.
Even if chat history is turned off, it’s possible that a separate copy of the conversation can be saved by another participant using a 3rd-party client.
If using Google Talk only

Check the box Turn off chat history by forcing all future chats to be "Off the record". Users cannot change this setting.

If both Hangouts chat and Google Talk are enabled

You can turn chat history off, but users can change the setting for each conversation.

To prevent users from changing this setting, enable the Hangouts only option and select Prevent users from changing this setting.
If chat history is off, is it still stored anywhere? And for how long?

Chat history may be stored for a short period of time on client devices, and at Google. This allows you to continue your recent chats when switching between devices.  

For example, if you start a chat on your work computer, and then switch to your phone while riding the bus, you can pick up where you left off. Messages will disappear after a short period of time.

How can we be sure to keep copies of all chats for all users?

To ensure that all chat conversations are saved for all users, enable Hangouts chat only, turn chat history on, and select the option Don’t allow users to change this setting. You can also purchase Google Vault and use the Vault retention policies to save email and chat messages for a desired amount of time.

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console.
  2. Click Apps > G Suite > Talk/Hangouts.
  3. Click Advanced Settings.
  4. In the Chat section, select Hangouts chat only.
  5. Under Chat History, select History On and check the option Don’t allow users to change this setting.
  6. Purchase Google Vault and set the Vault retention policies for your organization.
If using Google Talk only, you can uncheck the box Turn off chat history by forcing all future chats to be "Off the record", but users can still change this setting. If both Hangouts chat and Google Talk are enabled, you can turn chat history on by default, but users can change the setting for each conversation.
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