Google may've said during Wednesday's keynote that it planned to roll out Hangouts to Gmail users gradually, but if you just can't wait to integrate the new messaging service into your e-mail dashboard, there's a way to gain early access. Simply log into Gmail, ensure you've signed into Google Talk (if you're having trouble enabling Talk, try installing the browser plugin), click on the thumbnail associated with your account in the Talk sidebar, and select the "Try the new Hangouts" option.

If you don't see the option right now, you can trick Gmail into giving up the goods by clearing your cache and cookies. After that, sign out and back in. It should show up at this point.

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If you're a fan of Gmail's phone dialer, you're in for a bit of a disappointment. The upgrade eliminates easy access to Google's VoIP service. Luckily, though, switching back to the old Gmail Talk interface is easy: just click on the Hangouts menu and select Revert to old chat on the dropdown:


We can only hope that Google integrates SMS and voice calling into Hangouts soon.

Update: If you really want Hangouts in Gmail, but don't want to give up voice calling, you can still manage. Although it's a little awkward. For starters,  you can still receive phone calls in Gmail via Google Voice. If someone calls your GV number, your desktop will ring like normal. However, the phone call will be answered in a separate Hangout window. It seems to treat the phone calls as a video Hangout without any video on either end.

Which, shockingly enough, is how you can place phone calls from the desktop. This is a little ridiculous, so follow me here. If you want to place a phone call from the desktop follow these steps:

  1. Open plus.google.com.
  2. In the right-hand Hangouts bar, start a "Hangout party" (this is the new name for the multi-user video chat we've been calling simply "Hangouts" until now).
  3. Share the Hangout party with yourself.
  4. Click "Invite people"
  5. Click "Add telephone"
  6. Enter the telephone number of the person you want to call.


Unfortunately, this method won't pull up your contacts, so you'll have to manually track down the person's phone number and copy/paste into the box. However, the recipient will see your Google Voice number (if you have one) when their phone rings.

This feature has actually been in Hangouts for a while, but now that the new Gmail Hangouts eliminates the easy method to place phone calls, this is a fallback. As we said before, the alternative is to switch back to Talk for now.

So, really, the question is which do you want more? In line images, or the ability to place phone calls from your computer?

Thanks to everyone who sent in the tip.

Kyle Wiggers
Kyle Wiggers is an avid writer, web designer, podcaster, and video producer with an acute interest in all things technology. When not reviewing or commentating on gadgets, apps, and videos, he enjoys reading New Yorker feature articles, tinkering with computers, and playing the occasional game of Rock Me Archimedes.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108482452903817442299/posts Andrew Bone

    Not in the list for me :-(

    • Carlos Rodríguez

      Clear cache and cookies from your browser and refresh. You'll need to log in again.


      • Krisztián Kelemen

        did it twice, hangouts won't show up :(

    • Daveon Jackson

      Some people say clearing cache and browser data works

  • Iván Estévez

    Now I just don't get why the chats are on "send items" when there is a Chat tag,

    • The_Chlero

      yes, this is really anoying since I keeo in control my recieved and sent items.

  • NoBullet

    Thats a lot of blocked people

    • Squiddles

      It could be pages as well. I've got 11 blocked profiles, but most of them are pretty shitty meme pages that wondered into my stream via "What's Hot".

      • NoBullet

        So is this how we get rid of unwanted people on the Hangouts app? We have to block them?

        • Squiddles

          No idea, I'm just pointing out that blocked pages in G+ show up as blocked in Hangouts.

        • Nevi_me

          I do the same on Whatsapp ...

    • NaNNy

      That's one of the problems with Hangouts: in GTalk you could block people only for the "chat part", allowing you to continue seeing eachothers profiles on G+. With the new chat, you have to block entirely the person, so you will loose the possibility to check his profile (you will see only public post) and that's lame

      • jordanjay29

        That's not quite true. In the Google account settings page, you can manage who can hangout with you, by circles. This doesn't prevent you from interacting with them on G+, just via hangouts.

        • NaNNy

          good catch, but will this remove the person from the list?I really don't wanna see the picture of that person in my G+ right

  • Emullins

    Wow I can't wait to lose the ability to call any number in the US and Canada from my Gmail!

    Fix your shit, Google. In the meantime, I'm keeping Talk.

  • Wazzifer

    You can still call phone numbers if you install this extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/video-call-launcher-for-h/kbpgddbgniojgndnhlkjbkpknjhppkbk I really hope they will bring Gmail contact calling back though, I use it regularly =(

    • AlexanderKline

      Thanks Wazzifer! This is awesome!

      • Wazzifer

        You welcome!

  • spacekobra

    Well, voice calling kinda works. I just enter a video call and disable my camera by pressing back. You can still call the person. Though its on speaker I think.

  • http://twitter.com/shamus_carter james kendall

    google needs to add the callign to hangout as thats one of the main fitures i use on the gmail talk thingy.

  • tB

    ..or within Gmail you can just click 'Circles' in the label list and select 'start Hangout' from the drop down and click the '+ Add Telephone' link. Much more simple!

    • jonathan3579

      How is that more simple than clicking a phone icon?

      • tB

        I meant the 3 clicks of my way are simple compared to his instructions in the above article.

        • jonathan3579

          Oh okay, gotcha! Thanks. I don't know why they'd bury the option because it's something I use consistently. I'm not accustomed to the new setup either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cory-Wilson/1536862974 Cory Wilson

    I don't get why voice isn't integrated into hangouts

  • Arthur H.

    I've been using hangouts and love it but how does one enable the delivered and read receipts?!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      The avatars of those you are chatting with will drop down to the last read line once they read what you said. It's per person so it's quite cool.

      • Arthur H.

        That makes sense but how would one know whether a message is delivered?

        • Nasko Hristov

          Under the message, you see the time it was delivered, when you type it you see three dots *dancing* under the message, that means that the message is beeing delivered, when they stop doing that the message is sent, you will see it will write Now, and after a minute it will write 1 minute.

  • Carlos

    So with this new hangouts roll out, what kind of implications would it have to people who have home voip solutions for their home through Google voice? Would products like obihai and g home be rendered obsolete?

  • Alex

    Am i the only one that actually wants a REAL app for hangouts, like talk had? One that starts up with computer, and the most useful feature ever, showed instantly when i got an email!!!

    • David Dudovitz

      Download the Chrome app, it does just that.

    • David Dudovitz

      Go to this website on Chrome and click "Install on your computer"


  • jonathan3579

    As soon as I saw that I lost phone dialing, I switched back to the old style. That's a definite deal breaker for me.

    • Roodly Philogene

      Same here, I did not even waste my time checking it out. I am overseas and the phone dialing feature saves me a lot money calling back to the states.

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

    Google launched two half baked products, one after the other. Switched Google checkout to Google Wallet. An now hangout. Both have taken away so many features from the older one, in favor of shiny exterior. Why Google, why?

  • tenaxitsolutions

    nice article ...... tenaxit solutions

  • scuttlefield

    Is there anyway to tell what email address a person's entry is connected to? I've got two listings for one person and can't tell where I'm contacting them.

  • jpelgrom

    Will people using the 'old' Talk interface see my messages sent using Hangouts appearing in Talk?

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh


  • http://twitter.com/mcde731 Michael D.

    Brilliant choice 1: All chats are now stored in the "Sent" folder in Gmail.
    Brilliant choice 2: The contacts are a mess. Now on my phone I have a list of "Frequently contacted" people, I never chatted with, just because I once added them in one of my circles.

    Google, thank you for downgrading another one of your services.

  • James M

    Since I'm from outside the US, I get charged by the minute for a call made through the gmail phone dialer. Calling from a hangout however is completely free so all my calls are done in the hangout. A bit more work but it's free.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chinmayd Chinmay Dhandhania

    Really like the Armor series for GS3 because of its water proofing. My friend dropped his gs3 in the pool and viola it was working! Also <3 international giveaways

  • Rick

    Can't copy/paste into a hangout gmail hangout chat window either... lame.

  • Jules

    Does anyone know how to organize contacts in hangouts based on status on a Windows OS? The Green line is barely visible and it's crazy to try to scroll down through all contacts to find the ones that are online! Help!!!

  • Alex

    Such bullshit. Seems Google is going out of its way to become as annoying and useless as possible. Too bad. They were pretty good.... once.....