5 Tricks Every Google Talk User Should Know

By Posted 2009 Updated   ComputersGoogleGuest Posts

Google Talk is the messenger of choice for Gmail users. Although the desktop client hasn’t been improved for a long time, many people use it as their primary instant messenger just because they are loyal Gmail users and many of their friends are. Unlike most other IM clients, Google Talk is also very minimalist and doesn’t intimidate you with ads and the like, so people are just sticking to it.

Here are five tips and tricks that every Google Talk user should know. Make sure you bookmark this page because you never know when they’ll come handy.

1. Desktop Shortcuts to Contacts


This is probably the quickest way to initiate a chat with a Google Talk buddy. Using this method, you can create a desktop icon. When clicked, this icon will directly open a chat window where you can chat with your friend.

To create a desktop shortcut to quickly chat with your GTalk friend, just right click on your desktop and go to New > Shortcut and type gtalk:chat?jid=username@gmail.com. To initiate a quick call, use the shortcut gtalk:call?jid=username@gmail.com where username should be replaced by your buddy’s GTalk ID. This method doesn’t work on Windows Vista, but only on XP.

2. Running Multiple Instances Simultaneously


Google Talk, by default, doesn’t provide a way to log in to multiple accounts at once. However, you can achieve that by a workaround.

Just edit your existing desktop shortcut to Google Talk by right clicking on the desktop icon, going to properties and then appending the parameter /nomutex to the target, like this: C:Program FilesGoogleGoogle Talk.exe /nomutex. You can use this shortcut to launch multiple instances of Google Talk, thereby allowing you to login to multiple Google Talk accounts simultaneously.

3. Making the Status Always Idle


There’s no way to control you can control your Idle Status on Google Talk. But, if you can install gAlwaysIdle, you can choose to remain either ‘Always Idle’ or ‘Never Idle’. Just by right clicking on the Google Talk system tray icon, you can make use of these idle options.

4. Formatting Text in the Chat Window



Did you know that you can format text on Google Talk even though there are no visible buttons present for that purpose. You can do basic formatting in Google Talk like making the text bold, italic and underline. To make the text bold, just enclose it within *asterisks* and to make it italic, just enclose it within _underscores_

5. Learn the Keyboard Shortcuts

Google Talk provides plenty of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to perform a variety of actions. Their documentation doesn’t seem to be listing the shortcuts though, so here’s a list of many user discovered shortcuts. Learn them once, and you’ll find them indispensable forever.

Here’s the list, as listed on Sizzled Core:

1. CTRL + Mousewheel up/down: It will change the font size in a conversation window.
2. CTRL + E: Center text
3. CTRL + R: Right justify text
4. CTRL + L: Left justify text
5. F11: Start a call
6. F12: Stop the call
7. ESC: Close the current window

That’s pretty much it. If you know of any other tricks or tips that you think will be useful for Google Talk users, please share them in the comments.

Guest blogger Shankar Ganesh writes on KillerTechTips.com on general tech tips ranging from most useful Firefox addons to how to make Windows run faster. You can also write a guest article on QOT and share your tricks.

This is a guest article and represents opinions of the guest author

48 comments on “5 Tricks Every Google Talk User Should Know

  1. Benjamin says:

    Personally, I prefer to use another client when I need to use multiple gmail accounts, like digsby.

  2. Sumesh says:

    Good tricks – I particularly liked Always Idle and shortcuts to contacts.

    When I was on Windows, I wouldn’t touch anything other than GTalk (except Skype) because of its simplicity and lack of bloat.


  3. Keith Dsouza says:

    I have used gIdle quite a lot and without it I am bombarded with multiple chat windows, so I would recommend that tool to any user who gets too many IMs in Gtalk

  4. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach says:

    Never knew you could run multiple gtalk instances – thanks for the tip!

  5. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach says:

    Never knew you could run multiple gtalk instances – thanks for the tip!
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  6. Fatin Pauzi says:

    Nice tricks. But, I rarely use gtalk. However, ym is getting worst form day by day. Maybe I’ll use gtalk later. Thanks!

  7. Simran says:

    great article for gtalk users. learned some new tricks from here.

    You didn’t mention how to make text underline ?

  8. Shankar Ganesh says:

    Thanks guys for the feedback! I’m glad you found this article useful.

    @Simran: I haven’t found a way to underline text in GTalk. If anyone knows the trick, do let me know. Thanks!

  9. dyxz8 says:

    This article is very good,TKS.

  10. Utsav Patel says:

    Really Great Compilation…!!!


  11. Leandro says:

    Nice tips, but for Mac, Adium does everything and more :)

  12. Lynn Duffy says:

    Great stuff! I am wondering if you’ve ever heard of this issue: only when in gmail or google hat, I get serious keyboard issues – it will skip keys and you have to pound the keyboard. every other app is working fine. using vista unfortunately. and did not used to have this issue. also not having it on another vista computer.

    • Chad says:

      I have the same problem. Have you found any solutions?

      • sica says:

        There IS a solution; I had this problem and changed a setting and it was fixed. Which was a relief, because it almost made me give up gmail. Of course, it was so long ago, I can’t remember what it was. Try some google-fu and good luck!

  13. Ravindra Singh says:

    The best part was the running multiple account ….
    I needed that badly, but was lazy enough to search for that.

    Tnx I got it now

  14. Hami says:

    I knew those all, except that ‘making text Italic’, but Shankar you forgot to write how to make text underlined in gTalk..

  15. shuil says:

    about the first tip:
    I just type gtalk:chat?jid=username@gmail.com but the window said that can not find the profile.(username have be replaced by my buddys GTalk ID)
    Is it not work in China?

  16. epiki says:

    One point you missed that’s with Google Labs setting we can make our status invisible can’t be done in normal way right now.

  17. Bio Genetics says:

    Is there any way I can stay invisible on Gtalk? It is possible to stay invisible in Gmail inbuilt chat but not in gtalk.

  18. Vikram says:

    Cool tricks.

  19. Ravi Gupta says:

    it very nice tricks.

  20. Googlisti says:

    You can have underlined text putting it between – hyphens –

    • Quarklop says:

      Putting the text between hypens crosses it out, not underlines it. I hadn’t tried that until you suggested it though.

      I find it incredibly amusing that nearly everyone lists that you can make your text bold, italic and underline, and then explains how to bold and italicize, with no mention of how to underline. I can’t find anywhere how to underline.

  21. Albatol Network says:

    Even though Gmail messenger getting popluar but most people like me still stock/loyal to msn and yahoo messenger i guess its because the years we used it for!

  22. kimba! says:

    puting text in between – hyphens -, doesn’t underline, it’s strikes out the text instead…

  23. nikhil says:

    nice tricks,
    if anymore plz send me

  24. mnsajin says:

    – hyphens doesn’t work.
    I think he is trying to fool us

    • Marissa Oakey says:

      They wrote it wrong. You strikeout text by typing -text- there should not be spaces between the text and the hyphens.

    • Inimee says:

      not hyphens, but underscores (shift+hyphen): _text_

      • Smudge4646 says:


        *asterisks* make it bold

        _underscores_ make it underlined

        -hypens- make it struck out

        • Smudge4646 says:


          i meant _underscores_ made it italics. all the rest are correct.

  25. Rohan says:

    Hi, In vista 64 bits the multiple session trick doesnt work. I am unable to proceed even a step with this trick. Is there a way to do it in Vista? I tried with slashes and without but no luck.

  26. dexter says:

    I amazed and literate my gtalk buddies with this…great post indeed!

  27. Hans Hamid says:

    The gtalk always idle and the shortcuts didnt works for me :(

  28. siddhesh says:

    does Gtalkidle works with Windows 7?? i have got trouble installing it

  29. Tin Dee says:

    2. Running Multiple Instances Simultaneously

    It doesn’t work anymore with this text : C:Program FilesGoogleGoogle Talk.exe /nomutex . Could you plz teach me more? Plz do reply to my mail.!

  30. shade says:

    its hyphens for a strike out and underscore for italics ppl nebody wid the underline shortcut

  31. shade says:

    @tin dee: it does. try again type it in the target field.

  32. @gochati says:

    RT @gochati google talk trik

  33. Mazda Cx7 says:

    Wow. Some of this stuff is really cool. I don’t really see the point of number 3, though. Why install something to keep your status either always idle or never idle? Just seems like you have to install it on your computer, and it doesn’t really do anything for you.

  34. Dell Desktop Computers says:

    Formatting the text in the chat window: huge help. I never knew I could do it. I’m definitely spending my time experimenting with the different things I can do. Thank you!

  35. SaiChand says:

    How can I be offline in Gtalk ??

  36. KoolFirE says:

    gAlwaysIdle doesnt work with Windows 8 even in compatibility mode (it used to work on Win7 in compatibility mode of WinXP). Any ideas?

  37. Nishant Kumar says:

    I am alway online on google talk

  38. Geekyard says:

    Cool trick buddy ;) Shortcuts were very useful for chat…

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