I am not a big fan of IM programs and hence do not use desktop chat clients e.g Google Talk, Pidgin, Digsby or Meebo. The built in chat feature of Gmail is perfectly suitable for brief conversations but there is a small catch. During a chat conversation, you have to either stick to the Gmail tab forever or constantly oscillate between multiple tabs, which can be highly annoying at times. I am composing a blog post and here comes my friend whom I can’t ignore, I switch to the Gmail tab, send a message, fall back to the earlier tab and in comes the ding!
This cycle goes on and I have to find the Gmail tab within a sea of open browser tabs; there seems to be no possible way to get out of this situation other than sticking to the Gmail tab through the entire conversation.
If you are anything like me and want to detach Gmail chat from the browser, try this chat for Google chrome extension. This extension frees Gmail chat from Google Chrome, allowing you to reply to messages from no matter what web page you’re on at any given moment. The extension works exactly the same as the desktop Gmail client, with added support for email, video calling and Google Plus hangouts.
Once you have installed the extension, sign in to your Gmail account and you are through. Here is how the chat UI of the extension looks like:
To start a voice call or a Google Plus hangout, all you have to do is hit the respective icons on the chat window. One of the biggest advantage is the ability to send quick emails to your Gmail contacts, right from the desktop, without having to open Gmail at all. Type the name of the contact in the search pane, hit the result, compose your email and shoot! No more inbox gazing every 30 minutes.
The extension is slightly slow and IM’s might take a little longer to go through. Another downside is that it doesn’t support multiple user profiles or multiple Gmail accounts, so if you are using a shared computer, you better use the standalone desktop chat client. [via]