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On the left hand column of GMail I see my mailbox. Below the list of all my mailboxes, I get a section for "Chat" which lists my recent contacts, and below that, a section for "Invite a Friend".

I'd like to eliminate these. I can press '-' button to collapse them, but they remain visible and I think they reappear uncollapsed the next time you return to GMail.

Is there a way to permanently delete these items, which I do not want to use, and do not want cluttering up my interface to GMail?

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Other solutions described here: nikunj-solutions.blogspot.fr/2011/10/… – JMax Jun 18 '12 at 13:40
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The best way of doing this is through add-ons or extensions. Take a look at Better Gmail 2 for firefox or Better Gmail for Chrome. These allow you to hide the chat and invite a friend blocks completely. They also can remove some other elements, and tweak some other ui elements as well.

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Click the ellipsis ("...") at the bottom left of the screen. It toggles the display of "gadgets" like chat.

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This illustrates the issues with providing answers for long-standing web apps. There was no such function when this question was originally asked. – Al E. Oct 16 '12 at 14:47

Not in the GMail Settings or Labs, but you could install Greasemonkey with this userscript.

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You can remove the chat box by clicking "turn off chat" at the bottom of the page.

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