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It's time to move from Hangouts to Google Chat (everything you need to know)

We are finally reaching the end of the road for Hangouts. This week Google announced the timeline for the final migration from classic Hangouts to the new(ish) Google Chat for users with personal Google accounts. 

The current timeline
  • Now: Hangouts mobile app stops working, start using Chat in Gmail or the Chat app
  • Now: Hangouts extension stops working, access Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail
  • July 2022: Hangouts in Gmail on the web will be upgraded to Google Chat
  • September 2022: Google will email users regarding Hangouts conversations that did not fully migrate to Chat
  • After October 2022: Hangouts on the web will be turned off and Hangouts data will be deleted
While there is no specific date for Hangouts to be shut down, Google only promises it will be available until November.

Here's what you need to know about the switch from Hangouts to Chat

Find your Hangouts conversations in Chat


Your classic Hangouts conversations should already be available in Google Chat. 
  • You can find 1:1 conversations and unnamed group conversations under the Chat tab. 
  • Named group converations will be found under the Spaces tab. 
There are some Hangouts conversations that may not have migrated to Chat. For example: 
  • Inactive conversations prior to November 2017 (although I am seeing much older inactive conversations in my own Chat list)
  • Group conversations with abusive users
  • Group conversations where the creator had a Google Workspace account that is now deleted
There may be additional reasons why Hangouts conversations (or parts of conversations) will not be migrated. Google says they will email affected users with more information around September.

What's the difference between Hangouts and Chat?

While Hangouts was (at one point) Google's stand-alone all-in-one communications platform, Google Chat is more a collaborative communications tool for Google Workspace. Chat is integrated not only with Gmail, but also Docs, Calendar, Tasks and other Google services. 

Google Chat is split into two: "Chat", which includes one-to-one and group conversations, and "Spaces" which are places for topic-based collaboration. 

Google Chat "Chats" are most like Hangouts conversations. 

Tip: Group Chats can be turned into Spaces, but Spaces cannot be turned into group Chats.

In early 2023, Currents communities (the successor to Google+ communities) will be migrated to Spaces. Spaces recently added a "Space Manager" role, and I expect will get additional features in the future. 

Features only available in Chat
Hangouts features not available in Chat
  • Send multiple images in a message (although this should eventually be available in Chat)
  • Stickers 
  • Easter eggs like /ponies /pitchforks and /bikeshed  (Chat does support kaomoji shortcuts like /shruggie )
  • Individual conversation windows. In Gmail individual conversations will pop up over the window
  • Video call ringing from all platforms (this is available to some users in the mobile Gmail app)
  • Phone calls and SMS messages
  • Chrome Extension
  • Ability to create separate conversation windows on the web

People you blocked in Hangouts will stay blocked in Chat



If you have blocked someone in Hangouts, they should remain blocked in Google Chat and across Google products. You can check your blocklist in two ways: 

1. Sign in to hangouts.google.com on the web
2. Click Settings on the left menu
3. Click Blocked people

Alternatively, you can see the list of people you have blocked on Google in your account settings at myaccount.google.com/blocklist

Back up your Hangouts



You can download an archive of all your Hangouts converstions using archive Hangouts data using Google Takeout (takeout.google.com/settings/takeout/custom/chat)

Note that the archive likely only includes conversations back to May 2013, when Hangouts launched as a separate service. 

Any attachments you shared will be archived in their original format. 
Conversations will be archived in JSON format, which can be formatted nicely using a third party tool (for example the Hangouts.json Reader). 

Download images you shared in Album Archive


Images you shared in individual Hangouts conversations are also available in your Album Archive: 



1. Sign in to Google Album Archive (get.google.com/albumarchive) with the same Google account email you use to sign in to Hangouts

2. Click Photos from Hangouts

3. Click the Hangout conversation

4. Click the 3 dot menu icon at top right and select Download album

This will download a zip file with all the images you (and only you) shared in the conversation. 

Tip: You can share that Album Archive album link with anyone else in the same Hangouts conversation to let them download the images you shared. People who are not in that Hangouts conversation will not be able to access that album page.

Switch to Chat on mobile


Starting this week, users of the Hangouts mobile app will see a It's time for Chat in Gmail prompt. There is a button to switch to Chat in Gmail or to get the mobile Chat app. 

If you already have the the latest version of the official Gmail app on your device, you do not have to install anything. Chat (and video calling service Meet) are fully integrated into Gmail. 

You also have the option to use the stand-alone Google Chat app for Android or iOS

I personally prefer the separate Chat app, as I sometimes refer to my Gmail email messages while Chat is open. But if you haven't installed that yet, give Chat in Gmail a try, as that is one less app to manage. And having both Chat in Gmail and the Chat app active can create duplicate notifications.

As noted above, most (if not all) of your Hangouts conversations should have already migrated to Google Chat and Spaces, so it should hopefully be a smooth transition.

Turn off Google Chat in the Gmail app


To disable Chat in the Gmail mobile app: 

1. Open the Gmail app

2. At tap the 3 line hamburger menu icon at top left

3. At the bottom of the left menu tap Settings

4. Select your Google account email

5. On the Settings screen, under General, de-select Show the chat and spaces tab

Hangouts Extension will stop working

This week the Hangouts Chrome extension will also stop working. You will see a notice that It's time for Google Chat with a button linking to Chat in Gmail (mail.google.com/chat/). 

There is no Google Chat extension. For a more extension-like experience, you can install the Chat Progressive Web App (PWA) by following these instructions. The Chat PWA requires Chrome 73 or higher, and for Chrome to be running in the background.

Continue to use Hangouts on the web


You can continue to access Hangouts on the web at hangouts.google.com and, for a much more limited time in Gmail, on the web.

Hangouts in Gmail on the web will be switched to Chat some time this month, so the time is limited. 

Note that with Chat in Gmail, you will also get the new, updated, Gmail layout that includes Chat, Meet and other Google Workspace services. 

Turn off Chat in Gmail on the web

You can disable Chat in your Gmail settings. 



1. Sign in to Gmail (mail.google.com)

2. Click the Settings Gear icon at top right

3. On the right menu click See all settings

4. Click the Chat & Meet settings tab

5. Change the Chat setting to Off  (currently you can also switch between Hangouts and Chat)

6. Click Save Changes

You will still be able to access Google Chat at chat.google.com or using the Chat PWA.

Brand Accounts cannot use Google Chat

If you sign in to a Brand Account directly, you can currently use that Brand Account to chat in Hangouts. However, Brand Accounts cannot use Google Chat, so those conversations will not be available after Hangouts shuts down. 

How can you know if you are signing in to a Brand Account directly? 

Originally Google+ Pages could have a password added for direct sign-in. That option was removed in late 2016. As Google+ Pages became Brand Accounts with Google+ as a service, those existing passwords for direct sign-in continued to work (and work now). 

What that means is that this only applies to Google+ Pages/Brand Accounts with a password added before the end of 2016. 

To check to see if the account you are signing into is a Brand Account, check myaccount.google.com/email . If it has a @pages.plusgoogle.com username, it's a Brand Account.

Alternatively, try opening chat.google.com . In my experience, when a Brand Account tries to access that page, it tries to load for a while, then opens an error page: 

Chat Temporary Error
We're sorry, but your account is temporarily unavailable. we apologize for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes.

The "detailed technical info" is just "Numeric code: 11". 

Currently Brand Accounts are only supported for YouTube, so I think it is extraordinarily unlikely that Chat will ever be made available.

Learn More

That's a lot of information! You can learn more here:
You can get assistance in the classic Hangouts and Google Chat help community.

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Spam and personal attacks are not allowed. Any comment may be removed at my own discretion ~ Peggy