What Do the Gchat Symbols Mean?

Written by steve johnson
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Gchat is an add-on application in Gmail allowing users to chat with contacts easily. Gchat symbols indicate the add-ons you can use, as well as notes on your status and those of your fellow chatters. The most important symbols you'll need to know to understand Gchat are the video symbol, colours within the circles beside the name of your contact, phone symbol and the avatar with the plus sign.

Ball Icons

When you log into your Gmail account, you will immediately notice that each of your contacts has a ball icon beside his name. The ball icon is the symbol indicating whether your contact is available, busy, idle or offline.

A grey ball icon means your contact is offline or invisible, while a green ball icon means your contact is available. A red ball icon with a dash in the middle means that your contact is busy, while a yellow ball icon---which looks like a clock---means your contact's Gchat window has been idle for at least 10 minutes.

The Phone Icon

Once you start chatting with a contact, you will notice that there is a phone icon in the top left of the chat window. This symbol allows you to call the person with whom you are chatting. You will need to install a separate free plug-in from Gmail to start using the phone and video chat options.

The Camera Icon

Instead of a ball icon, some of your contacts will have a camera icon beside their names. This symbol means that your contact is using a computer that has a webcam installed. The camera icon also changes in colour depending on the status of your contact.

When you initiate a chat conversation with a contact, you will also notice that another camera symbol is available on the window. When you click on this symbol, it will allow you to initiate a video chat with your contact.

The Avatar With a Plus Sign

The small, generic avatar with a plus sign allows you to add another person to your active chat conversation. As of May 2011, you can only add people in text chat. You will not be able to add people when you're using voice or video chat.

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