Have you ever wanted to video chat with someone without leaving Gmail? I definitely have.
If you’re like me, you have an open Gmail tab at all times during the workday, managing and/or monitoring your email even when you’re working on other tasks. But if you’re dealing with a complex conversation in an email thread that goes off the rails, eventually you may find it prudent to simply get in a face-to-face conversation and sort things out.
That’s one reason why Google makes it easy to initiate a video call without ever leaving Gmail. In this guide, we’ll cover how to Gmail video call.
Table of Contents
- Why Use a Gmail Video Call?
- How to Gmail Video Call on a Computer
- How to Gmail Video Call on a Mobile Device
Why Use a Gmail Video Call?
Why would you consider using a Gmail video call? These are just some of the possible situations:
- An email thread has spiraled out of control. Email threads are convenient ways for groups of people to send multiple messages back and forth, but they also introduce complexity to an otherwise straightforward medium. If the thread gets too cluttered, too long, or too tangential, a Gmail video call may be the perfect course to straighten things out.
- An emergency has come up. Email isn’t the best medium for discussing an urgent need. If you get a notification of a distressing or emergency situation, issuing a Gmail video call could get you in touch with the people you need immediately.
- You want to make a better impression with a client. Face-to-face conversations often give you the opportunity to get a warmer introduction, or otherwise establish a better impression with a client or prospect. If you have the chance, you might as well take it.
- You just don’t feel like typing. There are ways to improve your typing speed and general Gmail efficiency, but for most of us, drafting an email still takes longer than having a basic conversation. If you don’t feel like putting time and energy into a draft, you might make a Gmail video call instead.
So how do you make a Gmail video call?
How to Gmail Video Call on a Computer
Learning how to Gmail video call on a computer is simple. There are several individual steps you’ll need to follow, but once you have the basic setup, you’ll be able to initiate a Gmail video call in seconds.
On a computer, video calling requires you to use Hangouts, which is technically a separate piece of communication software, but it falls under the Google umbrella and integrates easily with Gmail.
1. Check Your System Requirements
First, check to see whether you meet the system requirements for Hangouts. Before you can use Hangouts, you’ll need to have a Google account, and you’ll need to have an internet or data connection. I’m guessing these are not issues. You’ll also need to have a computer with a camera and a microphone (built in or connected to it).
Most major operating systems are compatible with Hangouts, including Mac OS X, Windows, Chrome, and Ubuntu. Most major web browsers are also compatible, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and if you dare, Internet Explorer.
2. Connect Your Camera, Microphone, and Speakers
If you’re new to video calling, you’ll want to make sure your camera, microphone, and speakers/headphones are connected and working properly. If these features are built-in, they should be operational by default. If not, you’ll need to walk through the troubleshooting steps associated with your device.
If you’re connecting an external camera, microphone, or other piece of equipment, you can usually set it up automatically by plugging it into your computer or connecting via Bluetooth. Make sure you’ve downloaded and installed the latest drivers for these devices (again, this should happen automatically). You can test these pieces of equipment with programs like sound recorders or video capture programs, or with system diagnostics.
3. Get the Latest Version of the Hangouts Plugin
If you’re using Safari or Internet Explorer, you’ll need to download and install the latest version of the Hangouts plugin.
4. Open Hangouts
After you’ve done that, you can open Hangouts from Gmail. Depending on your current setup, you can either head to the Google Hangouts website, or utilize the sidebar within Gmail.
5. Allow Access to Your Camera and Microphone
If you’re using Hangouts for the first time, you may receive a prompt that asks you for permission to access your camera and/or microphone. Grant this permission to video call successfully.
6. Select a Contact (or Several)
Once Hangouts is open, you’ll be able to access your full list of Contacts. When you’re ready to initiate a Gmail video call, you can select one contact or several.
7. Click Video Call
When you’ve selected all the contacts you wish to call, click “Video call” to start the call. When you’re done, simply click “End call.”
How to Gmail Video Call on a Mobile Device
The steps for making a Gmail video call on a mobile device are very similar to making one on a computer, though you probably won’t need to worry about connecting external devices.
How to Gmail video call on an iPhone or iPad:
- Open the Hangouts app. The easiest approach is to download the Hangouts app, and open it when you’re ready to make a video call.
- Tap Contacts. The Contacts button is found near the bottom of the app. Tap it to open your list of contacts.
- Select participants. Select one or many participants to add to the video call.
- Tap Video Call. When you’re ready to begin, tap “Video call.” On an iPad, you may also be able to start a video call by opening a Hangouts conversation, then swiping from right to left. Tap “End call” when you’re done.
How to Gmail video call on an Android device:
- Open the Hangouts app. You’ll also want to have the Hangouts app installed on your Android device. Open it to begin your Gmail video call.
- Tap Compose. In the bottom-right corner, you’ll see an option for Compose. Tap it.
- Tap New Video Call. Then, tap New Video Call to start a new call.
- Select participants. Here, you’ll have access to your full list of contacts. Add as many or as few people as you’d like.
- Tap Video Call. Tap “Video call” to being the call, and tap “End call” when you’ve finished.
Gmail video calls have the power to help you improve your online communications. If you’re interested in improving your Gmail efficiency further, it pays to use a tool like EmailAnalytics.
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.