Getting Started with Google Chat

For several years, classic Google Hangouts had been a part of Google at U-M and integrated with Google Mail. Google Chat is an updated, team-based experience that has replaced classic Hangouts at U-M, including within Gmail.

Google Chat facilitates both direct messaging and team-based collaboration within U-M Google. Faster and more interactive than email, Google Chat lets any U-M Google user chat with individuals, send group messages, and engage in team-based collaboration. Many devices and systems, including the web, desktop clients, and smartphones, can use Google Chat.

Note: Google Chat is a G Suite for Education core service. It is free, covered under U-M's agreement with Google, and can be used for certain kinds of sensitive data.

Current limitations

  • U-M Google and Google Chat are not HIPAA-compliant. If you are affiliated with Michigan Medicine, refer to the U-M HITS site for approved communications software.
  • While you can add external users to rooms and direct messages, you cannot include external users in group messages.
  • You cannot convert existing internal rooms in Chat to external rooms. Rooms must be created as external rooms.
  • You need to use a 64-bit version of your preferred web browser to download the desktop application.
  • Only one account can sign in at a time when using Google Chat via the desktop application.

Google Chat and classic Hangouts interoperability

  • Group messages will not migrate from classic Hangouts to Google Chat. You can access group message history on the web at or by searching in Gmail.

Note: You cannot access classic Hangouts group messages on the web from mobile browsers.

  • Google Chat group messages and rooms will not send messages to people outside of U-M who are still on classic Hangouts.
  • Group messages created in classic Hangouts with people outside of U-M need to continue in classic Hangouts.

Important: According to Google, you can use classic Hangouts via the web at until Google retires the service at the end of 2020.

  • Google Chat rooms can include people from outside the university. But, if they are using classic Hangouts, they will not be able to see the message and will need to open Chat through 
  • Hangouts users will not be able to see Google Chat room messages.
  • At the start of 2021, all phone/voice calls in classic Hangouts will no longer be available or supported by Google. (You currently cannot make (one-click) phone/voice calls in Google Chat.)

Note: In Google Meet, you can add someone via their phone number to the session, but this is not the same functionality as classic Hangouts phone/voice calls.

  • Google Meet is now the default video conferencing option in Google Chat. Video calls made in classic Hangouts are converted to a Google Meet session, sending the Chat user a link to the meeting.

For additional information on interoperability, see Google's Chat and classic Hangouts interoperability.

External users

External users outside of U-M are allowed in U-M Google Chat. (See below to learn how to add external users in Chat.)

Note: While you can add external users to rooms and direct messages, you cannot include external users in group messages.

To use Google Chat with people outside the University of Michigan, they will need to have a Google account. These users will have an "External" badge in Chat, so you will always know whether you're sharing information with the right people.

Additionally, you will need to designate a room as "External" when you create it. You will not be able to change this setting after the room is created. This means you won't be able to add external users to any rooms that have already been created, as those will remain "internal." 

To designate a room as "External" when creating it, check the box next to "Allow people outside your organization to join."

External one-to-one messages between classic Google Hangouts and Google Chat

  Receiver who is using...
Sender who is using... Classic Google Hangouts Google Chat
Classic Google Hangouts


Yes and no. If the Hangouts user has never messaged the Chat user before the switch, the Hangouts message will never be visible to the Chat user.

However, if they have chatted before the switch, the Hangouts message will be visible to the Chat user.

Google Chat Yes. Yes.

External group messages between classic Google Hangouts and Google Chat

  Receiver who is using...
Sender who is using... Classic Google Hangouts Google Chat
Classic Google Hangouts



Google Chat No. No. A room must be created to chat with external users because Google Chat group messages cannot contain external users at this time.

Group messages vs. rooms

Google Chat offers group messages (for smaller, private conversations) and rooms (for larger, team-based work). Group messages and rooms have different features and capabilities. For example, you can invite MCommunity groups to rooms, but you cannot invite MCommunity groups to group messages. For more information and help to determine which option is best for your needs, see Google's comparison chart.

Note: Rooms are not discoverable via search by anyone at U-M in Google Chat. Only individuals who have been invited to a room will be able to search for and access that room.

Manage rooms and groups for your department, organization, or school

By default, you can add people to a room one at a time. However, if you would like to add users in bulk, you can create an MCommunity Group and then invite that group to your room. To invite a group to an existing room:

  1. Click Find people, rooms, bots on the left of the page or chat window.
  2. Enter the name of the desired room and click it.
  3. The name of your room should now appear at the top of the chat window or page. To the right of the name, click the down arrow.
  4. Click Add people & bots.
  5. In the "Enter name or email of person or group" search bar, enter the name of your group.
  6. Click the name of your group (for example, "Test Group").
  7. Click Send.

Once invited, individual members of the MCommunity group can join your room. Google Chat will notify members that they have been invited to your room. If you'd like, you can also send an email notification when initially inviting the group.

​Important: You can use MCommunity groups to invite people into a room, but they are not synced with Google Chat. If you remove someone from the MCommunity group, you must manually remove them from the Chat room.


Bots are a unique way for users to connect to services integrated with Google Chat. You can talk to bots and command them to perform various tasks.

We have approved the following bots for use in U-M Google Chat:

The classic Hangouts bot will notify you of any missed classic Hangouts group messages.

You can use the Google Drive bot to get notifications in Google Chat about activity in Drive.

  • Meet (i.e., Google Meet)

You can use the Meet bot in Google Chat to schedule, modify, and cancel meetings, or to look up your schedule.

We are currently developing a process to request Google Chat bots, and we will provide more information to the university community soon. Until then, to propose other bots to be approved for use in U-M Google Chat, contact the ITS Service Center.

Additional resources

To learn more about Google Chat, see:

Last Updated: 
Monday, November 30, 2020