When I first became a Virtual Assistant, I had a client who had a very large and supportive community. I was the Community Manager: it was my JOB to talk to people all day every day! I had every chat program available at the time, including Google Hangouts (formerly Google Talk).
These days, I am tired. I no longer use a single chat program or service other than Facebook Messenger. I do not want to look at those services, see them or even think about them. Every time I opened my Gmail, though, there it was: Hangouts on the side, taunting me. Invitations galore. People wanting to chat. It is not that I no longer like any of these people: I simply strive to lead a much quieter life after all the years of working fifteen hours a day – seven days a week usually – in social media and community management.
A few weeks ago, it struck me that perhaps I could somehow hide that Hangouts sidebar. I began to search… and struck gold! Hallelujah, I am no longer taunted or feeling guilty for not responding to those Hangout requests!
How to Sign Out of Google Hangouts in Gmail Sidebar
There are a couple of different things you can do, actually. If you simply do not want to see or receive any Hangout invites, click the down arrow next to your photo in the Hangouts box on the left side of your Gmail screen. Scroll to the bottom of the box that pops up and choose ”Sign Out”.
Now your screen will have a blank space there, with just the buttons for ”Contacts,” ”Conversations” and ”Calls” at the bottom.
At some point, you may wish to sign in again. Doing so is simple: go to that empty box and you will see a faint gray line just below your email labels. If you hover your mouse over it, you will see the cursor turn into the two little lines that denote being able to drag something. Drag the line up or down slightly, and a box will pop up asking you if you wish to sign back in.
How to Hide Hangouts in Gmail Sidebar
If the issue you have is a small screen on your laptop or notebook and not enough space to properly read your emails, you may want to go a couple of steps further.
To completely get rid of the Hangouts Sidebar in Gmail, click on the gear icon at the top-right of your email.
From the drop-down menu that pops up, choose ”Settings.” When it opens, you will be in the ”General” tab, which is where we need to be at this point. You will see there are two rows of choices. The top one starts with that General tab and the second row starts off with ”Forwarding and POP/IMAP.” In that second row, click on the word ”Chat.”
As soon as this opens, you will have a very simple choice to make. You will notice that Chat is already turned on, which is why the Hangouts box appears in your sidebar. Click the circle next to ”Chat Off” and then click ”Save Changes.
Poof! The Hangouts box has just automatically disappeared! You now have more of your various email folders showing, instead.
If one of the issues you are having is not enough screen real estate to properly read your emails, you can also quickly hide that pesky side panel on the right. This is Google’s bright idea to give you shortcuts to the Calendar, Keep and Tasks. In order to hide it, look for this little arrow at the bottom of the screen.
Click it and that sidebar completely disappears! Best of all, Gmail will remember your preference and it will not show up again on its own.
Lastly, if you still need more space to show your actual emails (such as when using a small tablet or notebook,) you can always hide your folders list. See those three lines at the very top left side of the screen? Click that and your folder names collapse instantly. Look how much bigger your actual email list is now with these things hidden!
In order to show the list again, just click those three arrows and the folders will be right where they were to begin with.
What other Gmail things can I help you with?