How to use Google Hangouts extension
Hangouts — a free instant messenger with VoIP support created by the giant Google and belonging to its line of product and services. It was included into the predefined set of apps for many Android smartphones and tablets. Taking into consideration the power of Google, Hangouts became a really strong player on the market.
Google Hangouts provides the main options: its users can exchange free instant text messages, make calls and video calls for free to other clients of this service and call mobile and landline phone numbers. There is no need to create any separate accounts to use it: being one of Google's products, Hangouts messenger is automatically registered to the Gmail account.
The service is cross-platform — it works on mobile devices with Android, on iPhones/iPads and on the desktop PC with Windows or Mac. However, there is one point which should be clarified: unlike other established instant messengers (Skype, Viber or Telegram), Google Hangouts does not have a separate desktop version. For those ones wishing to use this service on a computer or laptop with their large screens, there are two options: the web version available in a browser and the extension for Google Chrome browser.
This article is dedicated to what is Google Hangouts plugin for Chrome and how to install it and work with it on a desktop PC.
Installing Hangouts extension for Google Chrome browser
You need the Google Chrome browser installed on the desktop computer or laptop. After adding the Hangouts extension, it won't be necessary to use the browser, you can keep it closed if you wish, but it must be present on the PC. If not, download it and install.
To find out how to access Google Hangouts from Chrome with the extension and not the browser version, first of all go to the Apps webstore and get the Hangouts plugin — it is free of charge. Just click “Add to Chrome” and then “Add extension” in the next dialogue.
Hangouts extension will start with the OS and run on the background, no matter whether the Chrome browser is open. There will be an icon in the system tray. After the installation, the launcher of the plugin will be activated automatically.
If you are already logged into your Google account in Chrome, you will get access to the Hangouts options right away. If you are logged out, log in to Gmail, and this will automatically open the Chrome extension window for you.
With this extension performing like a separate messenger app, you will be able to do all the tasks which you might need: communicate with other Google accounts by texting, send files via chats, make voice calls and video calls. As in other instant messengers, communication between the service users is free of charge and does not have time limitation.
Texting in the Google Hangouts extension
To start a personal chat, click “New conversation” and add the contact to talk to.
You can enter the name, the phone number or an email address, and Google will define the person — its databases are really huge, and the search is performed quickly.
You will need to send an invitation to that person and ask to join you in the conversation. When your invitation is accepted, you can start to chat.
Type the text into the bottom field of the Hangouts Chrome extension window. This plugin includes its own collection of smileys and stickers which you can add to your text message to express more emotions.
If you use this service in several forms (mobile apps, Chrome extension or the browser version), the data are fully synchronized, and you can start to talk on your phone device and continue from the PC or laptop.
You can also send images via this chat (other file types are not supported in any of the service clients; to exchange some documents, archives, audio or video files you might use Google Drive and send the link to the file via this Chrome extension).
Note that the window of the Hangouts Chrome extension is integral by default, however, you can separate the chat window if you need, and do this with all your contacts in case you prefer to have separate windows for each conversation. Just click the arrow next to the name of your contact.
Besides personal chats, you can have group conversations with up to 150 counterparts with the help of this Chrome extension window at the same time (if you need that).
Again, click “New conversation” and select “New group”.
Configure your group: name it and add participants. In the group settings menu you will be able to add other participants or remove them from that chat company.
You can also invite more members to join your group via direct link — select this in “Options” menu of the group.
That menu available in the Chrome extension includes minimal configuration settings for the text chats, both personal and group ones — you can allow or disable notifications, block users, delete conversation and leave the group.
All chats logs are saved in your Google account, you will see them in the list of your mails under the Chats section. This option can be convenient if you want to search for something in your chat history quickly, as you can use the feature of the browser and not the plugin. Or, you might need to save the chats history separately, and this task is already done for you.
Voice calls and video conversations with Hangouts extension for Chrome
The Hangouts extension allows its users talking to each other directly with voice and video support. The quality of the sound and video depends on the quality of the Internet connection — please check the system requirements for this service and make sure your PC or laptop and your Internet connection meet them.
Calls can be private or group conferences with up to 10 participants.
To start a personal call, choose the contact from the list and click the camera icon. Video call is the default option, however, users can disable their cameras to keep the voice communication only.
Note that you can add text comments during the video call, this can be useful if you want to share some text information or links during that talk.
For the video conference you need to create a group with those people whom you want to communicate with (see above). After that click the camera icon in the chat window for that group, and the video call will be started.
The Chrome extension does not support the option of making phone calls to mobile and landline numbers. To make such a call from the PC, you need to use the browser version.
This is the guide on how to access Google Hangouts from Chrome and use its main options to communicate for free. Though Google reconfigured this service and its app clients several times in the past, the current versions for the mobile devices and desktop plugins for computers/laptops can perform all the tasks which one might need for chatting with other users under every environment.