Going 'Off the Record' With Google Chat

Q: An old conversation that I had on Google Chat recently came back to haunt me. Is there a way to make sure particular chats are never archived?

GoogleTalk.jpgA: You could make an argument that, in the office, Google Chat, a feature incorporated into your Google Mail account, might be more important than email. It allows you to communicate instantaneously with people inside of the office and out in quick bursts, the way you might face-to-face, instead of firing off multiple back-and-forth e-mails. And, by default, those chat messages are stored and indexed in your account so that they can be searched with the same reliability and efficiency as your Gmail itself. (Just click on "Chats" in the left-hand sidebar to visit your history.) Like your email, the chats can also be forwarded, printed or deleted.

If you find that you're often going in and deleting chat messages, though, or find that you never need to search through your history, you might consider changing the settings in your account so that none of your messages are ever archived. (Visit "Settings" and then click "Chat.")

There's one other option: You can leave your default settings so that all of your chat messages are archived and then manually go "off the record" when you find that you're having a conversation you'd rather not revisit in the future. When you open a chat, just click on the prompt that asks if you'd like to go off the record. Once this option is selected, the default will be modified so that all future conversations with that particular person are kept out of both your and his or her account. 

"We've designed this to be a socially-negotiated setting because we want to give users full disclosure and control over whether the person they're talking to can save their chat," Google explained on an FAQ page.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In