I have quite a lot contacts whom I chat with.

I already installed lab in Gmail which puts the chat list to the right side to have more space.

Now I'd like to group the contacts in the online list in any grouping, best would be the same as Gmail contact groups (or less relevantly maybe Circles), actually anything semantic (i.e. not grouped by first letter or similarly useless).

Can anyone point me a Lab, Greasemonkey script or something similar to achieve this?

Edit: use cases (may be imaginary) (as suggested by @OnenOnlyWalter)

The general idea is that everywhere you can group stuff to organize and work more effectively, easily: think about Contact Groups, Circles, Facebook friend groups (lately even created automatically (Smart lists) for your convenience), Skype contact groups, MSN contact groups, ... I think you get the idea.

Now let's see some scenarios:

  1. At work we use Google Apps hence Gmail, Talk, Drive, ... I work for support and I support at least 5 customers at time. Each customer has it's own team within the company. I added them to my Contacts and grouped them by team. I want to be able to see who is online from a given team because I need to ask a quick question / remember the client may be on the line...

  2. I have my family, friends, colleagues, sport-mates and I want to have see their statuses, but when I want to see if someone is online to ask to go play Squash I don't want to filter my family members/colleagues with my eye if I could just close those groups.

Remember a time when the Labels in Gmail were flat, i.e. no hierarchy? What about now? Different [custom] colors, "infinite" nesting, all out of the box. There were Labs and scripts making it possible then it got integrated. I know there are workarounds for everything, for example on Skype I renamed all my contacts to include prefixes in their names, because it has contact groups, but you can only see one group at a time. Of course when I know who I want to talk to I can filter by typing, however most people like clicking more.

In the end it all comes down to convenience, effectiveness, customization.
As a strong example: you can use telnet to send Emails through SMTP with hand-written XHTML and Base64 encoded image attachments, why do you use a modern browser, Gmail and its rich text editor then?

Few examples of the missing feature

example example example example

  • I've been searching for it but it's really hard, because everything is called 'group': GMail contact groups; Group chat in GMail/Google Talk; Google Groups mailing lists
    – TWiStErRob
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 14:41
  • Why are trying to group the chat contacts? If you can explain the use case here it might help. Is it just that the list of contacts is too long? Can you not just start typing a persons name in the chat search to pull their information card? Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 17:11
  • 1
    To add to this, let's say in my office we have 100 people on chat. On my team I have 5 and on our floor 20. I'd like to group those 5 into a TEAM group, have them listed at the very top of my buddy list, etc. if there's a work around, I'm open.
    – user63184
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 16:58
  • 1
    At this time Gmail has two apps for chat, Google Chat and Hangouts. Google Chat is no longer receiving updates in favor of Hangouts. Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 16:50
  • Regarding Gmail sidebar gadgets, accourding to [Gmail - Sidebar Gadgets] (developers.google.com/gmail/sidebar_gadgets), they are now deprecated. Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 16:58

2 Answers 2


Short answer

At this it's not possible to group contacts on the Gmail side panel. Try the contacts preview web application.


Google Chat / Hangouts

At this time Gmail users can use Google Chat or Hangouts in the sidebar. Neither of them have a way to show groups of contacts, but Hangouts could be used to have group conversations. A group conversation will show on the conversation tab. This feature could be used as workaround for the lack of grouping contacts feature in the Gmail sidebar, and start a Hangout with individual members of the group.

Using third-party IM services based on XMPP to chat with Gmail contacts could sound as the best alternative at this time, but Google Talk app for Windows was deprecated on February 25, 2015. According to fippo, on March 2, 2015, in No, its not the end of xmpp for Google Talk...

Instead of Google Talk, Hangouts is promoted. Hangouts does not interoperate with federated XMPP clients. Users appear as visible, but messages from federated contacts are lost, which is a very confusing user experience.

But having chats from Gmail accounts to Gmail accounts should work fine.

As far as I know, there isn't an announcement after the launch of Hangouts about Google's plans regarding XMPP support for Gmail accounts.

Important notes
From Gmail > Sidebar gadgets

Warning: Gmail sidebar gadgets are now deprecated and will soon cease to be supported.

From What is Google Talk?

We announced a new communications product, Hangouts, in May 2013. Hangouts will replace Google Talk and does not support XMPP. The information in this Developer's Guide pertains only to Google Talk.

Google Contacts Preview

On the new Google Contacts, contacts could be grouped in groups and circles (if you have a Google+ profile).

The following screen snipped shows the Contacts Preview sidepanel for an account without a Google+ profile:

Contacts Preview sidepanel

To start a chat,

  1. Select one or several contacts, a light blue toolbar will be shown
  2. Click More (three dots) > Conversation/Hangout

See also


Post of Mayur Kamat about the end of support for Google Talk app for Windows

  • Rubén, please, it's not group conversations, it's contact groups. This question has nothing to do with talking to multiple people at once! It is grouping contacts (family, school, work1, work2) and seeing online availablilty within those groups... refer to the many images I attached.
    – TWiStErRob
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 19:11
  • "Any of thay have a way to show group of contacts" ... please include a screenshot... for each of those options. Yesterday I searched for "School" in the chat and nothing showed up, but I have 6 groups starting with "School".
    – TWiStErRob
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 19:12
  • 1
    As for draft: you can always write the answer in notepad on your computer and only start answering when you got the content ready and the only thing missing is formatting.
    – TWiStErRob
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 19:55
  • I just find StackEdit. I'll move there the current version of my answer. Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 5:42

It looks like it's getting worse, with the new Hangouts chat client there's isn't even a way to see all my contacts, only the ones I have contacted and didn't archive the hangout, show up.

The only workaround I can think of is just to simply turn off Gmail chat and start using a desktop client like Pidgin. There you can group and move contacts around as much as you want.

Of course this way you lose Circles and Hangouts features like video and stuff, but for simple chatting it's a good enough workaround.

  • The Hangouts widget has two tabs, one for conversations, another for contacts. Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 17:27
  • Another workaround is to use Google Contacts. There you could check your groups and circles. Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 17:39
  • 1
    @Rubén I have 600 contacts and the contacts tab was showing me about 20 all of those are contacted in the past few months.
    – TWiStErRob
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 17:51
  • 1
    @Rubén I know how to browse and create groups. The questions is how can I use them for chatting. See the updated questions with images.
    – TWiStErRob
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 18:03

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