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Google Workspace

Google Chat: The 2024 Definitive Guide

By March 21st, 2024No Comments
google chat guide

Although Google Workspace offers a wide range of tools to help businesses and teams, something was lacking on the communication side. That’s why Google Chat has been a welcome change in the program suite.

Even with the comments function on Google Drive and video calls on Google Meet, teams opted for using a third-party tool to fulfill their daily collaborative needs. Mainly tools that allow them to chat in real-time and include features that improve their conversations, such as Slack or Skype.

But recently, Google has launched Google Chat on the Google Workspace enterprise. Besides offering a complete overhaul of previous communication interfaces, it contains new tools to make collaboration between teams a lot easier.

In this guide, you are going to learn how to use Google Chat’s new interface, as well as all its available features and add-ons.

What is Google Chat

According to Google:

“Chat is a modern application built on Google’s latest frameworks for web, mobile, and security and is an essential component of Google Workspace, used by 3 billion people to connect, create, and collaborate.”

google chat intro

Google Chat is part of all the Google Workspace email plans, but it’s also available for free as a standalone service, part of your personal Gmail account and through mobile apps. This makes it possible to use it across many different devices. Therefore you can communicate with your team wherever you are, not depending on a computer.

Since it’s connected to all other Workspace resources, such as Google Docs and Google Calendar, it can be another asset to organize and optimize your workflow.

What’s included in Google Chat?

  • Direct messages: chat directly with a collaborator, client or vendor from your workspace
  • Spaces: group chats that can include the whole team to stay in the loop
  • App connectivity: install Workspace apps to enhance the experience

Starting with Google Chat

There are two different kinds of messages you can do in Google Chat: direct messages and Spaces. the group chats. Both are key to business communication, since DMs allow for quick exchanges, while Spaces are great hubs for team collaboration.

Direct messages

You can message any Google account that’s already in your Google Contacts. To start a chat, all you have to do is open Google Chat and click on New chat on the left menu.

Then, start writing the name of your contact and you’ll be able to pick between suggestions. When you message someone frequently, they’ll show up as suggested first.

google chat new message

If you get a message request from a user outside your contacts, they’ll be stored in Message requests, so make sure to check them frequently to avoid missing any relevant messages.

google chat dms

You’ll be able to write, send images and GIFs, add files and set up meetings through these direct messages.


Spaces, on the other hand, are group conversation hubs that allow your entire team to be up to date on current tasks. It works in threads, which means anyone in the team can start a thread about a specific matter, and everybody else will answer it, centralizing the communication. To create a new space, you can click New chat, then Create a space.

On the next screen, you’ll select what kind of space this conversation will be. You can pick between a collaboration or announcement chat and select privacy settings. Give it a name, an icon and done! Now all you have to do is start adding users from your team and the chat is good to go.

google chat spaces

The same messaging system from DMs works for Spaces: you can write messages, send files, add GIFs and reactions and set up meetings. However, if you create an Announcements space, only managers will be able to send messages, other users are readers only.

So the choice depends on what kind of group chat you’re building. It might be useful to create different chats for each company’s needs.

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Google Chat’s best features

Besides quick chatting, there’s a lot to do with Google Chat. Since it acts as a central discussion hub for your teams, it can be a starting point for task management, file sharing and problem-solving. Here are some of the main tools you can use with Google Chat:

File uploads

The biggest advantage of using Google Workspace ecosystem is being able to seamlessly work on files across tools. And with Google Chatm it isn’t different. To upload a file to a conversation, all you have to do is click the plus sign left of the message field, then the Google Drive icon, then Attach Drive file.

Meeting setup

You can also use Google Chat to create meetings.

google chat drive files

To do that, click on the video icon on the lower right. Everyone will be notified and they’ll be able to join the conversation by clicking on your message.

google chat meetingCommands and apps

One of the new resources developed for Google Chat that makes it more custom to each team’s needs is the ability to connect other apps. You can browse through Google Workspace Marketplace for different productivity tools that can be attached to the conversations or use Zapier integration to merge your chats with your work software.

But Google Chat goes even further. One of the tools that other work chat apps have that was incorporated into Chat is the ability to use commands to use these tools directly from the conversation itself. Simply type “/” into the message field and a menu will pop up with command suggestions based on the apps you’ve installed.

google chat commands

Task management

Distributing tasks among team members and setting up deadlines can be a hassle. That’s why Google Chat is connected to Google Tasks to make the process smoother. You can add a chat-related task and share it with the whole team by opening the Tasks tab.

google chat tasks

Through this method, you can also assign a user to each task, by utilizing the round robin distribution system or any other productivity method that benefits your company.

Search history and chat overviews

What makes Google Chat valuable for teams the most, however, is the ability to refer back to previous conversations. You can use the search bar at the top of the page to look for specific messages, users and spaces. You’re also able to search each individual chat as well since the conversation history is saved by default.

And the Files and Tasks tabs allow users to find what they need to complete tasks after assignments, so there’s no need to reach out again to ask for a link. Instead, everything is easily accessible with a single click.

When someone messages or tags you, you’ll receive notifications and they’ll be on the Mentions tab accessible via the left menu. That way, every interaction can be reviewed whenever you need them.

Setting up your Google Chat

As useful as Google Chat can be, it’s important to define the settings that work the best for your specific needs. You can open the settings menu by clicking on the Settings button at the top right. Then, a pop-up window will have you select notifications, email digests, offline hours and more.

Using Google Chat on Gmail

Google Chat works as a standalone app on your computer and mobile devices. That being said, it’s much easier to merge it with Gmail to work on live chat and incoming emails at the same time, especially if your workflow is based on emails. Customer service teams that use Gmail as a help desk, for example, can probably benefit from having a chat next to their inbox.

To turn on Google Chat on Gmail, go to the Settings menu, then the Chat and Meet tab. There, you’ll have to select Google Chat, scroll down and save. 

With this setup, Chat will be available on the left of your inbox, so when you’re working on emails, you’ll still be able to follow any direct messages and spaces you have.

Google Chat vs. Shared Inbox

While Google Chat has a lot of collaboration tools that can be useful for most teams, there’s still a hassle: you have to switch between different apps or pages to fully dive into your tasks.

For example, say you receive an email about a product concern. You’ll have to open Google Drive, create a report, then go to Chat and message your team about it. If anyone needs to access the full conversation you’ve had with your client, you’d have to forward them the entire thread.

Real-time access

A Gmail shared inbox is a solution to this productivity loss. Instead of having to switch between apps and tabs, all the information is fully accessible to your team. That’s because instead of each user working alone from their own address, everyone is an authorized manager of the shared inbox itself.

So when a customer messages you, the entire team can see the context and start working on the task at hand.

Shared notes

Sometimes, however, you might need extra help to fully solve a concern. That’s why our shared inbox solution, Drag, offers email notes. Email notes are helpful annotations you can add to each message with any data you’ve found relevant to the task. For example, your client emails you for a quote on your services, but before you answer, you have to get a manager’s approval.

Instead of having to forward multiple messages to your manager with the whole interaction, all you have to do is create notes that summarize the questions, the quote you’ve prepared and any concerns you have. That way, when they open the task, they know what you’ve already done.

Live chat

Drag also comes with live chat options but with a bonus. If you’re working with another team member on a task, you don’t ever have to leave the page itself. Instead, simply @mention them to update them of any changes and they’ll receive a notification directly back to the task at hand.

Wrapping up

Google Chat has a lot to offer for teams across industries. But it’s safe to say the best form of collaboration is the one that allows you to dive into each part of your workflow, together without leaving the page you’re starting from. That’s why a shared inbox like Drag can offer a more flexible solution for long-term collective productivity with emails, chats and anything else you need.

Turn Gmail into your Team’s Workspace.

  • 2.5x faster email responses.
  • 20 hours less spent per month, per team member.
  • 40% more deadlines achieved and happier teams.
Try for Free
Samantha Anacleto

Author Samantha Anacleto

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