• Run Hangouts in System Tray instead of on Desktop

How to Tray Hangouts

Some people who have installed Google’s new “Hangouts” app have been disappointed by the interface in Windows. It places an icon on your taskbar, and places some bubble icons along the right side of your screen that can get in the way.

app bubbles

If you preferred the way Google Talk ran, as a small, unobtrusive icon in your system tray (the tiny icons by your clock), this is how to get hangouts to behave the same way.

system tray icon

I found out today that there are actually two Hangouts options: the Hangouts extension and the Hangouts app. The Hangouts extension is the one you probably want.

The app has the bubble icons, the extension has the system tray icon

The difference between the hangouts app and the hangouts extension

If you would like to switch from the app to the extension, it’s just two steps:

  1. Uninstall the app. Go to about:apps in Chrome (type it in the address bar), right-click “Hangouts” and click “Uninstall.”
  2. Install the extension: Go here to install the extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hangouts/nckgahadagoaajjgafhacjanaoiihapd

BONUS: Cool hangouts feature: Screen sharing

Did you know you can start a screen share from a Hangouts chat? Click the Camera button in the top left corner of the chat window. This starts a “video call” (you can mute your camera if you don’t want them to see you). Then hover your mouse on the left side of the screen to reveal a vertical toolbar. Click the green button to start sharing your desktop.

Start a video call, then click the green icon in the left toolbar


8 thoughts on “Run Hangouts in System Tray instead of on Desktop

  1. cacotigon

    Thanks for this. The Hangout app is infuriating and the window constantly pops itself into the foreground while I’m working. Extension is much better.

  2. David Keller

    Thank you. Man the app has been bugging me for months. This is so much better.

  3. Dawn

    Thank you so much – the little Google icon on my task bar and bigger icon on my screen were annoying. Your fix…well…fixed it!

  4. brian

    Spent so long trying to get the minimized windows back. Thank you so much for this clear explanation.

  5. MaryCW

    Is there a way to have hangouts running with browsers closed AND have the wretched green blob off the screen??? Thanks, M

    1. Benjamin Post author

      @MaryCW Nope, Hangouts is a browser extension, so it has to run in the browser. The Google Chrome window can be closed, but Chrome will still be running in the background, and you will see the Chrome icon in your System Tray (aka Notification Area). Hangouts can’t run directly on the Windows operating system, it can only run from within Chrome. However, you can get a different chat app that supports XMPP, such as Pidgin. It’s a bit harder to set up, though.

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