Start a Hangout

With Hangouts, you can send and receive messages and make video calls with one person or with a group of people.

Start a Hangout conversation or video call

Note: If you’re using the Hangouts Chrome extension, Hangouts conversation windows started at or in Gmail will open outside of the browser window.

  1. Open Hangouts at or in Gmail.
  2. In the search box, type a name, phone number, or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name.
    • To start a group video call, for each person in your group, type their name and check the box in front of their name.
  3. Choose the type of Hangout you want to start:
Chat message

Type your message into the textbox, and press the return key on your keyboard.

Video call Phone call

Click the call icon .

Almost all calls to the U.S. and Canada are free from all countries where Hangouts calling is available. A few U.S. and Canadian destinations will cost 1 cent per minute (USD), or the listed rate for your local currency. Calls to destinations outside of the U.S. are at low rates, but calling isn’t available to all locations.

Text message

You can send a text message if you have a Google Voice account and have turned on text messages in Hangouts.

  1. Click the SMS icon .
  2. Type your message and press the return key on your keyboard.

Add emoji, photos or art to your messages

You can add graphics, like happy faces, to your conversations with emoji, or send photos to your friends. You can also draw a picture and share it in a conversation.

Add a photo
Click the camera button .
Add emoji
Click the emoji icon .
Automatically animated stickers
You can liven up your conversations with animated stickers. To do this, Hangouts will automatically detect specific phrases in your messages, like “Happy birthday,” and will show an animated sticker.
Draw art and send

You can draw something on a blank canvas or you can upload a photo to draw over it. Here are the steps to draw a picture and send in a message.

  1. Place your mouse over the camera button .
  2. The pencil icon will appear. Click the pencil icon . You can start on an empty drawing canvas. Or you can choose one of the options below to draw on a photo or another drawing:
    • Use a photo: If you want to draw on a photo that you have, you can upload a photo. Go to the top of the drawing canvas and click the camera button .
    • Use an existing drawing you used or one that you received from someone else: Go to the drawing you sent or someone else’s photo or drawing that you received in your conversation window. Place your mouse in the upper right corner of that image. Then click the edit icon .
  3. Choose the color and size of your pencil. You can also choose the shape and opacity of the pencil.
  4. Draw your picture.
  5. Click Send.

Message delivery issues

If a message isn’t successfully delivered, it’ll appear red. This usually happens when your Internet connection is temporarily interrupted or is too slow. When your connection is restored, the message will be sent, and the text will turn black.

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Megan is a Hangouts expert and the author of this help page. Help her improve this article by leaving feedback below.

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