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Finally Got Gmail Chat

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Google’s Chat in Gmail has been rolling out slowly to everyone, and now that I’ve got it, here are some screenshots and thoughts.

Here’s the basic Gmail interface with chat being used:

You can see the quick contacts list on the left, the IM overlay in the lower right. You’ve got most of the options you’d get normally in Google Talk, and a very similar interface. If you minimize the chat overlay, it becomes nice and tidy, getting the hell out of your way when you have work to do (this is an email program, after all):

Here’s the Quick Contacts list up close:

Contacts are ordered by how often you talk and email them, although you can pin specific contacts to always be there, and you can determine how many are shown in total in the preferences. If you don’t use Gmail often, you might see people in your contact list you only spoke to once, ever, like I did. You can also set your status and status message. And, of course, you can see who’s online and who isn’t.

In IM windows, you can select the option to go “off the record” and disable logging of the chat in both yours and your friends’ account, and to block your non-friends:

One new feature some people are already getting annoyed about is the contact card you see every time you run the mouse over someone’s name:

Philipp notes that there’s a Greasemonkey extension to get rid of it. I don’t mind it, but Google should make it optional. This sort of thing does feel a bit like interface bloat.

Here are the preferences:

Besides turning on/off chat history, you can determine the number of contacts displayed, slightly reorder the position of the contacts box, and determine who can see that they can chat with you.

This seems like a new feature, although I might have just missed it:

For each person, you get a page listing every email and chat you’ve had with that person. I really like this. Its accessible from the contact card.

I’ve had Gmail Chat for how long?

And I’m already seeing that?

Also, since you can “unpin” the IM window, that is make it its own browser window, I tried that without disabling the popup blocker, and saw this:

Gmail’s angry at me for not thinking ahead. I would suggest against clicking the information bar to turn off popups, since it crashed my browser every time. Rather, I found manually white-listing the domain to be more effective.

Here’s what it looks like:

That crappy view isn’t Gmail’s fault. Something in IE7 leaves me with ugly-looking mini IE windows.

Okay, enjoy your Gmail Chat when you get it!

Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

Visit the InsideGoogle blog.

Finally Got Gmail Chat
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