Now that you’ve had a chance to use Gmail for a little while have you tried using the Instant Message (IM) feature? It’s a great way to ask someone a quick question, or let them know something. People you email will start appearing in the chat list on the bottom left side of your Gmail screen, under your navigation links. You can tell they’re online at the same time as you because a light appears next to their name. Green means available, Amber means idle (they may have the screen minimized or have other windows/applications open), and red means busy/do not disturb.
To IM someone who has a green or amber light, just click their name one time and a message box will appear on the bottom right side of your window. Type your message and hit the return key when you’re done, that’ll cause the IM to pop open on their screen.
You can set custom available and busy status messages, which will appear to everyone in district with your name in their chat list. To do this, find your name at the top of your chat status list. Click the arrow to the right of the words, “Set status here.” Click the green or red custom message option, and type your custom status message. There’s no save button, it automatically applies. Any status message you set will stay until you change it.
Below the area to set a busy status you’ll see an option for invisible. You might say that this is stealth mode; it allows you to see who is available to IM, yet not be seen. You can still IM with others while keeping your invisible status.
One of the drawbacks of written communication can be the inability to add inflection to our writing. Luckily with Gmail IMs we can add some emphasis. To make something bold, add asterisks on either side of the word or phrase. To make something italicized, add underscores to either side.
Are you ready to add your picture to your chat status? It’s easy! Click here for directions.
Want to practice IMing someone? Feel free to send me a practice IM if you see me online and I don’t have a red status light next to my name.