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Some friends chose weird nicknames that I can't relate to them and I can't recognize them in the Chat list. I went to "Contacts" in my Google account (https://mail.google.com/mail/#contacts) and I changed their display name, but that only had an effect for the chat list in Gmail, not in Google+. (Weird that they don't display the same).

How can I fix this?

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It may sound Weird to you, but yes, they don't display the same names in GMail, Google+ and Orkut.

The name Displayed in GMail and Google Talk will always be the same.

This is a Screenshot of one of my Contact Details in my GMail account:

enter image description here

You can change their name in your Google Contacts - this change will reflect on your Google Contact List, GMail Integrated Chat, Google Talk and e-mails you receive from the particular individual.

But you cannot change their name in Google+ Profile, it's completely their choice - this will be reflected in their Google+ Profiles, Google+ integrated chat and hangouts, notification e-mails you receive through Google+ related to the particular individual.

The same applies for Orkut (not that anybody cares about it).

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    This isn't exactly true. I have changed the contact name in Gmail, but on Gmail integrated chat it still remains as the user defined. Sep 19 '13 at 13:02
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I know a very easy solution for this problem that might or might not fix it: ask your friend to change their nickname! If you can't relate to them because of the weird name, explain this to them and maybe they'll change it to please their friends.

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    That's a good answer, but besides the point. Google should respect what you have called your friend. If his G+ account is called Jim Bob and I've called him The Amazing Goat...then I should see only the latter! Google could use my chosen name as a kind of nickname.
    – AlainD
    Feb 10 '16 at 9:46
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I found a way to get around it.

  • Go to Google contacts and edit their name.
  • Go back on your phone and to their conversation. Wait 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Click on the conversation with said person and then add them to a group conversation with themselves.
  • The contact should then be force updated to take up the new name.

If it does not work, repeat the above steps until it does.

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I realized that I couldn't edit the display name of some of my "contacts" because they weren't truly Google contacts (even though I had many SMS messages, Hangouts, and emails with them). I had to:

  1. Find them on Google Contacts,
  2. Hover/click their name and then click "Add to contacts" (the person with a plus icon),
  3. Then click the "Edit contact button" (the pencil icon). Otherwise it would just revert the changed name back to what it was before.

It took some time for it to update in Hangouts, but it changed the display name automatically after a period of time.

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