Turn on classic Hangouts chat

Hangouts chat allows users to hold text or video chats directly from a Gmail window, mobile device, Chrome browser, or desktop app. Hangouts chat is enabled by default for all new domains.

Note: This setting is for classic Hangouts chat only.  For chat with a Hangouts Meet video call, see Turn Meet on or off.

Ready to set up Hangouts for your team? Follow our easy Quick Start Guide.

What changes to expect

Hangouts is a single app that combines chat with easy-to-use video calls.  Designed to work on our growing assortment of desktop and mobile devices, Hangouts chat also lets users (or administrators) control how conversations are saved or discarded.

See Start using Hangouts for a summary of some new chat features users will notice. 

You may notice  these additional differences when switching from Google Talk to Hangouts:

  • Hangouts chat does not support XMPP: Because Hangouts doesn’t support the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) standard (including XMPP federation), your G Suite users may not be able to chat with people using other messaging services. 
  • Hangouts does not currently support chat status APIs: Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) used to display status messages on other chat clients aren’t currently supported.
Update your organization’s chat history preferences

Chat history allows users to store the text of their chats in their Gmail account so they can easily search for them later. They 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, you can enable or disable chat history for all users in your organization. Learn more


  • If you disable chat history for all users, any future chat discussions won't be archived in the users’ Gmail accounts. If chat history was enabled in the past, your users may still have some chat conversations archived after you disable the feature. 
  • All chat history messages saved using Google Talk remain available after switching to Hangouts chat. You can still access your chat history from the Chats label in Gmail.
  • If you use Google Vault, saved chat messages can still be deleted based on the Vault retention rules.
Use Google Vault to archive messages

If chat history is turned on in Hangouts chat or Google Talk, you can also use Google Vault to manage and archive all of the chat messages for your organization.

To get started:

  1. Enable chat history for your organization’s chat users. 
  2. Purchase Google Vault.
  3. Use the Vault retention policies to save email and chat messages for a desired amount of time. 
Prepare your users

Use the following resources to minimize disruption and ensure your users are ready to take advantage of the new Hangouts chat features:

Resource Purpose
Get started with Hangouts
  • Learn about the important new features to help your users get the most from Hangouts chat.
  • Learn how Google Talk users turn on Hangouts chat in Gmail.
  • Learn how to start using Hangouts, and where to find more information, videos, and tutorials.
Sample transition email Customize this email template to inform your Google Talk users that change is coming, and how to get started.
Install Hangouts on user devices Instruct your users to install Hangouts on their desktop and mobile devices.


Turn on Hangouts Chat for your users

You can turn on Hangouts chat for everyone in your organization, or for users in specific organizational units:

  1. Verify that all the required G Suite services are turned on.
  2. Sign in to your Admin console with your full G Suite email address and password.
  3. From the dashboard, go to AppsG Suite > Google Talk/Hangouts.
  4. Click Chat settings.
  5. Under Organizations, select the domain or organizational unit for which you want to configure settings.
  6. In the Chat section, select one of the following options (changes may take up to 24 hours to take effect):
    • Hangouts chat only—users automatically switch to Hangouts chat when they refresh Gmail.  
    • Hangouts chat or Google Talk—users can choose which chat service to use. 
  7. Select the Chat History settings to determine if users conversations should be saved with users’ Gmail messages.
    See Chat settings for more options and information about the chat history settings.
  8. Click Save Changes.
    1. If Hangouts chat only is enabled, Hangouts is automatically turned on for any new users. Existing users just need to refresh their Gmail window to start using Hangouts.
    2. (Optional) If the Hangouts chat or Google Talk option is selected, existing Talk users must turn on Hangouts Chat in Gmail.



  • Once the Hangouts Chat only option takes effect, any user in that organization that is set to "Invisible" will be signed out of Hangouts chat. Users must sign in again to be visible to other users.
  • Chat messaging is not available in Hangout video calls or shared Google docs when the Hangouts chat only option is enabled.
  • Photo sharing in Hangouts chat requires Google Photos. Learn more.
Roll back, if necessary

If you change your mind and want to switch back to Google Talk for all users in your organization's domain:

  1. Inform your users what features will, and will not, be available to them after the switch. Learn more
  2. Sign in to the Admin console.
  3. Switch to Google Talk.
Tailor how Hangouts chat works

You can apply additional chat settings for everyone in the organization, or for users in specific organizational units.

For example, you can define the chat history setting to save or discard chat messages for all users, define the sharing options to warn users when they are having a Hangout with people outside the organization.

When you turn on Hangouts chat for your users, video calls are enabled by default.
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