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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

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

  1. Open Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. At the top of your Hangouts list, click Search Search.
  3. Type in a name or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name.
  4. Type your message, then press the return key on your keyboard.

Other types of Hangout

Group chat
  1. Open Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. At the top right, click Search Search.
  3. For each person in your group, type their name, phone number or email address.When you find the person you want, tick the box in front of their name.
  4. Click Message.
  5. Type your message, then press the return key on your keyboard.

After you've created a group, you can invite people using a link, add more people or remove people. Find out more about managing people in group conversations.

Video call

First, make sure that your computer meets the systems requirements, and give Hangouts access to your camera and mic.

  1. Open Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. At the top right, click Search Search.
  3. Type in a name or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name.
  4. In the Hangout window that opens, click Video call Video call.

When you've finished your video call, you can leave by pointing to the bottom of the window and clicking End call End call.

Video call with more than one person

  1. Open Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. At the top right, click Search Search.
  3. For each person in your group, type in their name or email address. Tick the box in front of their name.
  4. Click Video call.
Phone call

First, make sure that your computer meets the systems requirements, and give Hangouts access to your microphone.

  1. Open Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. Click the Call tab Call.
  3. Type a phone number or name into the search box. If you're making an international call, select the country code by clicking the Flag drop-down menu or by typing it into the search box (for example, +55 for Brazil).
  4. Click the phone number or the name of the person you want to call.
    1. If you're calling a phone number that has an extension, enter the extension using the dial pad Dial pad.

If you're in a Hangouts conversation with someone, you can call them straight away. At the top of the Hangouts conversation window, click Call Call.

To end a call, close the Hangout window or click End call End call.

Text message (SMS)

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

  1. Open Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. At the top right, click Search Search.
  3. Type in a name or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name.
  4. In the Hangout window that opens, click SMS SMS.
  5. Type your message and press the return key on your keyboard.

Add emoji, photos or art to your messages

You can add emoji to your messages to show how you're feeling, or send photos and stickers to your friends. You can also draw a picture and share it in a conversation.

Add a photo
  1. At the bottom right of the Hangout window, click Insert image Insert image.
    • Upload photos: Drag a photo or select one from your computer.
    • Photos or Albums: Select the photos that you want to send.
    • Web camera: Take a new photo using your camera.
  2. Click Select.
  3. Type in a message and then click Send Send.

You can also drag a photo from your computer into the Hangout window. Click Send Send.

Find out more about sharing and deleting your photos.

Add emoji and stickers
  1. At the bottom left of the Hangout window, click Emoji Emoji.
  2. Select an emoji from the window to show how you're feeling. 
  3. Type your message, then press the return key on your keyboard.

You can also add personality to your chat with an illustrated sticker. In the emoji window, choose a character and select a sticker. The sticker will be sent immediately.

Draw and send art

You can draw something on a blank canvas or you can upload a photo and draw over it. Here are the instructions for drawing a picture and sending it in a message.

  1. At the bottom right of the Hangout window, point to Insert image Insert image.
  2. Click Compose Compose.
  3. You can start with 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 already have, you can upload it. At the top, click Edit photo Edit photo. Select the photo that you want to draw on.
    • Use an existing drawing: Point to an existing photo or drawing in your conversation window. At the top right of the image, click Compose Compose.
  4. Choose the colour and size of your pencil. You can also choose the shape and opacity of the pencil.
  5. Draw your picture.
  6. Click Send Send.
Automatically animated stickers
You can liven up your conversations with animated stickers. To add animations, Hangouts automatically detects specific phrases in your messages, such as “Happy Birthday”, and will show an animated sticker.

Message delivery issues

If a message isn't delivered successfully, it'll appear in 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.

Related links

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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