Start a Hangout

With Hangouts, you can send messages, emoji, and photos or start video calls with your friends and family. You can start a Hangout from Gmail, Google+ Page or profile, the Chrome desktop app, your Android or iOS device, Inbox by Gmail, or with the Chrome extension.

You can start a Hangout with anyone you’d like as long as the person has a Google Account. If you start a Hangout with someone who doesn’t have a Google account, an invitation will be sent to their email address asking them to join Hangouts.

Start a Hangout conversation or video call

  1. Open Hangouts in Gmail or Google+.
    • Gmail: In the bottom-left corner, click on the Hangouts icon .
    • Google+: In the top-right corner, click on the Hangouts icon .
  2. Start HangoutSelect a person from the Hangouts list. The list is ordered with your most recent Hangout at the top. Or click the search button and type a name or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name.
    • If you want to start a group Hangout, check the boxes in front of multiple people's names and click the chat icon to start a message or a video icon to start a video call.
  3. Choose the type of Hangout you want to start:
    • Text conversation: Type the message you want to send in the text box that says “Send a message” and press the return key on your keyboard to send the message. The typing indicator will show other people in the Hangout that you’re typing a message.
    • Video call: Click the video icon to start a video call.
    • Phone call: Click the call icon to start a phone call. 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 USD 1 cent per minute depending on the specific phone number. The 1-cent rate may vary depending on the local currency. Calls to destinations outside of the U.S. are at low rates, but calling isn’t available to all locations.
    • Text message: If you have a Google Voice account and turned on text messages and voicemail in Hangouts, click the SMS icon to reply with a text message. Or you could start a new text message by going to the dial pad and typing the number.

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

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 smiley face .
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 pencil 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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Hangouts basics in 1 min.

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

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