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. 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 mobile devices, can use Google Chat. This document provides an overview of the current features, functionality, and limitations of Google Chat to help you get started.

Note: Google Chat is a Google Workspace 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.

Common Terminology

There are many terms Google uses to distinguish conversation types in Chat.

  • One-to-one (1:1) direct messages: Messages between only two people in Chat.
  • Group chats/conversations: Messages with more than two people. Google uses the terms "group chat" and "group conversation" interchangeably. "Legacy group chats" were group conversations created before December 2020 in Chat.
  • Spaces: Previously called "rooms," spaces are a central place where people can share files, assign tasks, and stay connected.


  • 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 spaces and direct messages, you cannot include external users in group chats.
  • You cannot convert existing internal rooms in Chat to external spaces. Spaces 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.

Classic Hangouts transition to Google Chat

Classic Google Hangouts officially retired on November 1, 2022. There were several efforts made by Google to transition Hangouts data to Chat, and you can find that information below.

  • Almost all message history from classic Hangouts is available in Chat. There are a few exceptions, such as inactive one-to-one messages prior to November 2017. 
  • Group conversations created in classic Hangouts with people outside of U-M should appear in Chat as a new group chat with external guests.
  • If a space originated in classic Hangouts as a named group conversation, the person who started the conversation was automatically assigned the Space Manager role in Chat.
  • All phone/voice calls in classic Hangouts are a feature no longer available or supported by Google. You cannot make (one-click) phone/voice calls in 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 videoconferencing option in Google Chat.

External Users

External users outside of U-M are allowed in U-M Google Chat direct messages and spaces. They cannot be added to group chats/conversations.

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 space as "External" when you create it. You will not be able to change this setting after the space is created. This means you won't be able to add external users to any spaces 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."

Group Chats vs. Spaces

Google Chat offers group chats (for smaller, private conversations) and spaces (for larger, team-based work). Group chats and spaces have different features and capabilities. For example, you can invite MCommunity groups to spaces, but you cannot invite MCommunity groups to group chats. For more information and help determining which option is best for your needs, refer to About spaces and group conversations.

Spaces can now be set as discoverable via search by anyone at U-M in Google Chat if desired. When creating a space or editing a current space, set Space access to "University of Michigan."

Use MCommunity Groups in Spaces

By default, you can add people to a space 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 space.

To invite a group to an existing space:

  1. Click the plus sign ("+") next to Spaces in the left sidebar of If you are using Chat in Gmail, click Spaces from the left sidebar and use the search bar at the top.
  2. Enter the name of the desired space in the field provided and select it from the list.
  3. Click the space title and select Add people & apps from the drop-down menu.
  4. Enter the name of your MCommunity group in the "Search for people, groups, or apps" field and select it from the list.
  5. Click Send.

Once invited, individual members of the MCommunity group can join your space. Google Chat will notify members that they have been invited to your space. 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 space, but they are not synced with Google Chat. If you remove someone from the MCommunity group, you must manually remove them from the Chat space.


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

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

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

  • Meet (i.e., Google Meet)

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

Additional Resources

Last Updated: 
Friday, October 21, 2022