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Google Hangouts Guide

Beginning July 30, 2020, Google Chat will be introduced at Ryerson as a replacement for Google Hangouts, the text-based messaging app currently used at the university. While Hangouts will still be available for the time being, Google has announced its permanent retirement of Hangouts later this year.

Please refer to the Google Chat Help Centre for FAQs and support.


Getting Started

When you search for a recipient in Hangouts, Ryerson staff and faculty appear first at the top followed by public, non-Ryerson Hangouts users below. While external Hangouts users are included in search results, Ryerson staff and faculty remain private and searchable only to each other and to Ryerson students.

Similar to Ryerson email and calendar, students are not included in the searchable directory - you’d have to know a student’s email address in order to send them a Hangouts invitation. Once a student accepts your invitation to chat, their name and email address will appear on your contacts list. Until then, their email address may remain with an “unknown” display name.

There is no university-wide policy requiring you to regularly use or check Hangouts. While some will find this new tool very useful for quick chats or video conferences, others may prefer not to use it at all.

Hangouts is an app that allows you to do the following:

  • send instant messages to individuals and groups of up to 150 people
  • video conference and share your screen with up to 25 people



To use Hangouts on the go, download the app by visiting Google Hangouts, external link on your mobile devices or directly from the Google Play Store, external link or iTunes, external link.

For more details, see the Hangouts Help Site, external link.

You can send instant messages straight from your Ryerson Gmail, online through the Hangouts app or through your mobile app.

You can make free Canada-wide and US phone calls using Hangouts and your Ryerson Google account. You must first agree to the Terms of Service for Google Voice, please read more about core and consumer Google Workspace apps at Ryerson.

Video conferencing capabilities has moved to a new Google Workspace app, Hangouts Meet. Read more about Hangouts Meet in the Google Workspace at Ryerson Guide or Google Workspace Learning Centre, external link, opens in new window.

Video conferencing using Hangouts Meet includes scheduling video conferencing through Google Calendar, presenting your screen to a video and large video calls that can include 25 participants.

How to Use 


Start a Call

Video calls can be started from Gmail or from the Hangouts app directly. From either location:

  1. Select a person from the Hangouts list or search for their name or email address. You can select multiple people to start a group video call with.
  2. Click the video camera icon to start a video call .
  3. When you're done, click the phone handset icon to end call .

All video calls will be redirected to Google Hangouts Meet app.

Video calls are now on Google Hangouts Meet. Using the new Meet app, you can video chat with both Ryerson and external users. No login is required for external users. Inviting participants to a video call is a simple as sending participants the unique meeting code. For more information, please visit the Google Hangouts Meet page

You can now make free calls across Canada and the United States using the Google Hangouts at Ryerson. While Ryerson has determined the phone calling feature in Hangouts holds minimal risk to privacy, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Files from Google Drive can be attached in video conference Hangouts by clicking the Google Drive icon on the lower right-hand corner of the window. Before attaching, adjust the file’s share settings so the recipient can open it.

At this time, files cannot be attached in chat windows.

Enter Chat Message or Link

While Hangouts can be a quick and easy way to chat with colleagues at Ryerson, it’s important to know that it’s not intended to be an official means of communicating decisions about university matters. Those types of decisions are best communicated through email, memos or letters.

That said, your conversations in Hangouts, whether they’re about getting together for coffee or setting up a meeting, are covered by Ryerson’s Records Retention Schedule, Records Management Policy and Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).


  • Avoid including personal information, particularly about others (i.e. students or employees) in Hangouts messages.
  • Records containing personal information must be kept for a minimum of one year from date of last use.
  • If a decision about university business is made via Hangouts, transfer that information into a follow-up communication such as an email, memo or letter and keep the Hangout conversation for the required retention period as described in the Records Retention Schedule.
  • If the Hangout conversation is a transitory record, it can be deleted once the action (i.e. coffee meeting) is complete.


Instant Message

You can send a message to someone from a few different locations: from the Hangouts page, from within your Ryerson Gmail account, or through the Hangouts mobile app if you choose to install it. Note that the first time you send a message to someone, it will be sent as an invitation for them to accept or ignore.

See more on starting chats and video calls at the Google Learning Center, external link.

Additional tips, including starting group chats, muting your mic during video calls and screen sharing can be found at the Hangouts Help Center, external link.

The first time you attempt to start a chat or video Hangout with someone, you’ll be prompted to send an invitation and will receive a confirmation, as seen below.

Invite Sent

The recipient receives a notification about a new Hangout invitation and will have the choice to ignore or accept it. If accepted, both users will be able to see each other's online status. If a recipient selects ignore, this information will not be shared with the sender.

New Hangout Invite

Google Hangout chats are not intended to replace emails, but rather gives the option of instantly messaging a colleague or friend at Ryerson. Some examples where you might choose to use chat instead of email are:

  • For brief communications or quick questions.
  • For quick and informal communications with colleagues or friends.
  • For quick assistance or a question needing immediate response from colleagues.
  • When you’re hoping to reach someone instantly and don’t have time to wait for an email to be sent, delivered and responded to.

If a contact doesn’t appear as available, you can still send them a message but they may not be available to respond immediately. Note that a Hangouts status only indicates the last time a user was active specifically on Google Hangouts and may not necessarily mean they’re not at their computer.

A green dot beside your profile, as shown in the image below, indicates that you are available. This is only seen by users you’ve chatted with previously. If you haven’t accepted a message request from someone, they won’t be able to see your online status.

Anyone who knows your Ryerson email address can invite you to a Hangout chat or video conference. This includes non-Ryerson users who also use Hangouts with a personal Google account. It’s up to you to accept or ignore any invitation received.


Privacy and Security

The first time you open Invites in your Hangouts settings, you’ll see the message below. The best option is to choose No thanks to ensure your default invitation settings in Hangouts don’t change.

Invites in Google Hangouts

Clicking on “Ok, got it” allows everyone who has your email address to see your Hangouts status and contact you automatically, without sending an invitation to seek your permission first. The “Ok, got it” button is misleading and Ryerson has been in contact with Google in an attempt to change it.

When you instant message or video call with someone on Hangouts, your information is encrypted. This includes your conversations and video calls on a web browser, Hangouts mobile apps, and meetings through Chromebox for Meetings.

More on how your information is kept safe and specific encryption methods is available at the Hangouts Help Center, external link.

The default setting in Hangouts is to display the last time a user was “active” on Hangouts. This helps you know whether a recipient might be available for immediate response. If you don’t want to display your “last active” time to Hangouts contacts, you can change this in your Hangouts settings (the dropdown arrow beside your name) and un-check the box to Show when you were last active.

The options to Show which device you’re on and Show when you’re in a video or phone call are not enabled by default but can be turned on. If you choose to enable these options, your Hangouts contacts will see other details about your usage, your devices or when you’re currently busy in a video or phone call.

The options to  Show which device you’re on  and  Show when you’re in a video or phone call  are not enabled by default but can be turned on. If you choose to enable these options, your Hangouts contacts will see other details about your usage, your devices or when you’re currently busy in a video or phone call.
The options to  Show which device you’re on  and  Show when you’re in a video or phone call  are not enabled by default but can be turned on. If you choose to enable these options, your Hangouts contacts will see other details about your usage, your devices or when you’re currently busy in a video or phone call.

Ryerson reviews the privacy and security risks associated with all Google Workspace apps for Education and endeavours to safeguard users’ personal information and university records. In some cases, you will be able to change the default settings for Hangouts in your account to reflect your personal preferences. When these settings are changed, you accept responsibility for the resulting impacts on your privacy. If you are unsure what a changed setting will do, read the below items in this section of the FAQ or contact Ryerson Computing and Communications Services Help Desk at 416-979-5000 ext. 556806 or at This FAQ provides important information on default settings to maximize your privacy, settings you can change and recommendations about settings you should not change. For more information, visit Privacy and Security for Google Workspace for Education at Ryerson.

Google Hangouts keeps all conversation history by default. Due to FIPPA requirements, we recommend you do not change this setting for any of your chats.

This setting is found in any current hangout chat you’re participating in, by clicking the Settings icon . A menu will appear, showing a checkbox next to Conversation history. Please keep the checkbox selected to ensure conversations are kept.

Yes. While video calls are not recorded, message histories are retained and can be deleted. To do this, open a Hangout you’d like to delete. Click on the Settings icon and click Delete conversation.

Deleting a Hangout conversation will delete the Hangout history from your Gmail, which is stored in the Chats label and from Hangouts on all of your devices. Other people participating in the Hangout will still be able to view the Hangout history. This is similar to deleting an email where even if you decide to delete a message, any of the recipients may still have copies of the message in their possession. 

Archiving a Hangout on the other hand, will remove the conversation from your current Hangout conversations list, but will keep the history in your Gmail, stored in the Chats label. You can see all of your archived Hangouts by clicking the dropdown arrow next to your name for Settings and then selecting Archived Hangouts.

Your most recent Hangout chats are listed in the Hangouts conversations list on the lower left-hand side of Gmail or in the conversations list in the Google Hangouts app. If your conversations aren’t listed, click the Hangouts icon  to open it.

Within Gmail, you can also find a complete list of previous chats under a new label in your Gmail list called Chats. You may have to click on More to see it.

Clicking the Chats label will list all your chat histories. Open a chat history to see the conversation. You can also find a list of previous chats by clicking one the the Gmail search bar and typing “in:chats”.


Control Who Can Contact You

While Google Hangouts doesn’t have the typical choices to set your status to available, busy or invisible, you can appear as unavailable to users by turning off notifications for one Hangout.

If you're busy and don't want to be notified of any Hangout messages, you can temporarily mute or turn off notifications. People who send messages or invite you to video calls won't be notified that you’ve muted notifications. Instead, your green status light will turn off and you’ll appear unavailable.

See instructions for how to turn off notifications in the Hangouts Help Center, external link.

When you receive an invitation from someone you don’t wish to chat with, open the invitation, select Ignore and then Block. If you’ve chatted previously with the user, you can open the conversation, click on the Settings icon and select Block this user. The user will no longer see your online status and will see a message that you may not be online.

If you unblock this user in the future, you will not see any messages they sent while blocked. Note that this user will not know you didn’t receive these messages once you unblock them.

Full instructions on how to block or ignore someone can be found at the Hangouts Help Center, external link.

If you want to remove someone from your Hangouts list, you can hide them. From within Gmail, select the person’s name in the conversation list, click Options, indicated by the three vertical dots  and select Hide contact.

In the Hangouts app, open the Contacts tab, select the person's name, then click Options, indicated by the three vertical dots beside the name  and click Hide contact.

Similar to how the Ryerson Global Address List (GAL) directory works, in Hangouts, staff and faculty can search for each other by name or email address. While Hangouts users external to the university will show up in search results too, Ryerson staff and faculty remain searchable only within Ryerson.

Also similar to the Ryerson GAL, students are not included and will not show up in Hangouts search results - users would have to know a student’s email address in order to send them a Hangouts invitation.

Anyone who knows your Ryerson email address can invite you to a Hangout chat or video conference. This includes non-Ryerson users who also use Hangouts with a personal Google account. It’s up to you to accept or ignore any invitation received.