How to Chat on Google Docs

Google Docs has great potential for teams that need to collaborate on a document. The file is stored online and can be shared with anyone, and they can then be given ‘Viewing’ and/or ‘Editing’ access to the document. All changes save automatically, so work is very rarely lost.

The Google Docs chat function takes collaboration one step further, allowing users to text-chat directly to one another while looking at the document. We’ll show you how:

Why Chat on Google Docs?

The beauty of the Google Docs chat feature is that if two or more coworkers are collaborating over the same document, messages are sent and received within the document itself. This means there’s no need to click away from the document to check messages, both saving time and keeping all communications in one place.

Sharing your Google Doc

Before using the chat feature, you need to share the document with your collaborators.

Step 1. Open your Doc from Google Drive.

Step 2. Click the Share button in the top right hand corner.

Step 3. Type in the email address(es) of the people with whom you want to share the document.

Step 4. Check the box Notify people so they’re alerted.

Step 5. You have the option to write a message to your collaborators. Keep in mind that the same message will be visible to everyone whose email addresses you include. To send different people different messages, share your document separately with each person.

Step 6. Click Send. 

Using the Chat Feature

First, it’s worth noting that anyone who wants to join the chat needs to be online and looking at the Google Doc.

You’ll be able to see who else is looking at the document by checking the icons in the top right hand corner, to the left of the Share button.

To start a chat conversation:

Step 1. Click the Show chat icon at the top right hand corner of the screen.

Step 2. Type your message and click Enter to send.

Step 3. When you’ve sent your message, each active user will receive a notification. They’ll have to click on the chat icon to view the message and send a message reply.

Additional Reading: How to Password Protect a Google Sheet

What You Can’t Do in the Google Docs Chat

The Google Docs chat feature is helpful but relatively limited:

Anyone who wants to participate in the chat needs to be online

If you want to communicate with anyone who isn’t looking at the document, you’ll have to leave comments instead.

It won’t let you send or receive attachments

You’ll need to send attachments by uploading them to Google Drive and sharing them, or sending them via email.

You can’t save conversations

If you need to save the conversation, you’ll need to copy and paste the chat into another document.

You can’t access past conversations

Unfortunately you can only do this if you’ve copy and pasted conversations into a separate document and saved it.

You can’t direct messages to specific people

Chat messages are visible to anyone with whom the document is shared.


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