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Single Window Mode Added To Chrome Hangouts App

Google has updated the desktop Hangouts Chrome app with a brand new look. 

The new designed bears more than a passing resemblance to the official Hangouts app on Android tablets and iPads, using a single-windowed mode and split-column layout to keep chats and contacts together.

Split into two columns, the left panel plays hosts to the contacts list, message history and calls (plus a floating action button for creating a new chat). The right side displays the active conversation plus settings and options when selected.

hangouts chrome app

New Look Hangouts App

Google introduced the Hangouts Chrome App last October with a Facebook Messenger style transparent ‘floating chat heads’ design, pictured below.


While well received at the time, the ‘floating heads’ were only officially supported on Chrome OS and Windows only. Mac and Linux users could use the app but would see a solid background rather than transparent so crucial to the heads-up experience.

The new design solves these niggles. For Mac users it is enabled by default.

Try The New Design

disable transparent mode

Click this button

If you have the Hangouts app installed on Windows, Linux or Chrome OS and see floating heads do not panic. Nothing is broken; only Mac OS X uses the new single window layout by default.

On Windows, Linux and Chrome OS systems Hangouts will continue to default to the ‘floating’ version, but the new design is easily enabled

To turn on the Hangouts app new single window mode:

  1. Launch the Hangouts app
  2. Click the green floating action button
  3. Click the settings icon (three horizontal lines)
  4. Scroll down and click the ‘Disable transparent UI’ button

The change will take effect immediately. To switch back to the chat bubbles mode simply repeat the steps listed above and click the ‘Enable transparent UI’ button.

Get Hangouts for Chrome

If you already have the Hangouts Chrome App you should already have the update (open it and check, if not just be patient).
If you don’t already have the Hangouts Chrome Appa — note: app, not extension — you can grab it from the Chrome Web Store for free. It works on Chrome OS, Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

Hangouts App on Chrome Web Store

Which style do you prefer? Let us know the comments below.

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed us about the update — you’re ace :)

  • Finally!

  • I hope someone will delete this project at Google and start a new one, at least as good as Google Talk…

  • ChromeDude

    Teh may have been intentional, but was it necessary?

  • JJordan

    This interface is much more appealing to me but I am having a very hard time getting the app to run in Linux after this update. The extension seems to still work so I guess I will use that for a day or two.

  • Hey, you and Dinsan are friends! This makes me happy! ^^’

  • Emanuel Acuña

    Excellent, working fine on my Ubuntu :-) single window mode forever…

  • pixelstuff

    Did they ever fix the problem of the Windows app not being able to minimize to the task bar?

    • It never had this problem.

      • pixelstuff

        To answer my own question, it still has this problem.

  • Tim Gonzales

    Still prefer the Hangouts extension over this packaged app. It’s implemented so much better in comparison (It runs in from the system tray in Windows and docks each hangout on the far right of the Chrome OS shelf).

    • Daniel Thursfield

      I will have to agree. At least on OSX I do prefer the old Hangouts extension. I don’t mind the new version on Windows though as long as I use the floating circles. What is in ChromeOS though is by far the best implementation of Hangouts imo.

  • Jasper Edwards

    DEFINITELY like the new interface better.

  • James Dedon

    I just wish it wasn’t such a huge resource suck.

  • I am literally freaking out right now at this design change. I have wanted this for *years*, practically ever since Hangouts on Chrome became a thing. Fantastic update! :)

    • dodghz

      I’m genuinely excited too. This is brill – it’s just like Hangouts on Android now.

      • SOrb

        Hangouts on Android is designed for a small touch screen, not a large screen with mouse interaction.

  • rheerani

    I prefer the extension more than the app, either version. The panels are much better and don’t cover any of your windows while minimized. If they make the app do that and add some other new feature, I may shift, otherwise never switching to the app.


    Any way to increase the font of the hangout app? It is too tiny to be seen !!
    I would prefer the older version hence I was able to increase the font as a webpage using CTRL and +

  • Joe Clark

    In the single window format, why is the big green plus button over top of the contacts? It’s in such a weird place and can’t be moved out of the way. Why not put it at the bottom along with contacts, messages and phone icons?

  • AskYous

    Dang… been wondering how you get that new UI look. Thanks for showing how to switch the look.

  • armadilloranch75418


  • armadilloranch75418

    whats up

  • armadilloranch75418

    talk to me

  • armadilloranch75418

    im going to have a headake

  • armadilloranch75418

    … never mind i said i am going to have a headake… im gona DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • armadilloranch75418

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  • Guy Montag

    Needs system tray. I don’t want little bubbles over my windows. Google should know this…

  • nunya

    I much prefer the floating heads. I just discovered the new version when I had to install Chrome Canary. (Don’t remember why, but something I was trying to do or some page I was on said I needed the it.) It apparently came with that. But within a month both Canary and the Hangouts windows turned to black windows (actually, Canary was like a black cross on a gray background)…unusable. I couldn’t find the cause or a solution. And when I tried to uninstall Canary kept being told that I needed to close all Chrome windows and try again even though there were no Chrome windows open. Finally found Revo Uninstaller to get rid of Canary, then installed the older version of Chrome. Now when I computer starts up Both versions of Hangouts start up! (sigh) Anyway….to answer the question, I don’t like the new version at all. Too big!

  • g105b

    Unusable if you use more than one Google account

  • Oleksa Stasevych

    Not possible to scroll with the mouse….

  • SOrb

    This is not an improvement, just a change. At least it should have the option to do both, that has been a common option in most IM clients for almost 15 years.

    The single window is large and obtrusive when I only want to talk to individual people, and masks who is sending a message when it comes in.

    For anyone wanting to see “Android” hangouts on a big screen… The ui is designed poorly for that, let it be.

    • GeorgeDao123

      I really appreciate the change. In fact, I love it. Wish Hangouts on Android tablets would have that interface someday.

  • Eric Nicholls

    I would like to make the video open on a little screen rather than a new webpage. And I wish I could be able to make voice only calls to contacts directly.

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