My company uses Google Hangouts chat as an IM client.

When there is a new incoming message in a Google Hangout multi-person chat that I have joined, neither the Windows taskbar icon for the Hangout chat window nor the Hangouts icon in the Windows notification area / "system tray" flash or otherwise indicate that there has been a new message.

The browser (Firefox) window in which I have Gmail running also shows incoming chat messages, but also does not flash upon receipt of a new message.

Consequently, I am frequently missing new messages, and unintentionally causing my colleagues to think that I am ignoring them!

I'm running Windows 8.1.

I do have the Down-arrow-options-menu > "Sounds for incoming messages" checkbox checked (from the Hangouts window with my list of contacts):

Sounds for incoming messages checkbox

As well as the Gear-icon > Notifications checkbox (from a Hangouts chat conversation window):

Notifications checkbox

My OS volume is not muted for any application for my active speakers (my headset -- the only enabled sound output device on the system), and I can hear sounds from other applications normally:

Volume Mixer

I'm not sure at this point why no notification occurs on incoming messages. Is the OS preventing it? Is there some Hangouts setting that I have inadvertently disabled? Does Hangouts simply not have this functionality?

What can I do to get the Hangouts taskbar icon to flash, a sound to play, and/or otherwise notify me when there has been a new message in chat, such that I no longer miss incoming messages?

2 Answers 2


According to the Google support pages, you should check 4 items to be sure.

  • Ensure your notifications are enabled. (Which you already said you have checked).
  • Be sure you are NOT using Flashblock. If you are using Flashblock you need to adjust your settings.
    1. Open Firefox.
    2. From the Tools menu, select Add-ons and Extensions.
    3. Go to Flashblock and click Preferences on the right side.
    4. Enter mail.google.com under Whitelist for Gmail.
    5. Enter www.orkut.com under Whitelist for orkut.
    6. Click OK, and refresh your browser.
  • Be sure that your speakers are not muted or your volume is very low.
  • Be sure that you do not have any ad/popup blockers blocking the Hangouts page (Disable for plus.google.com pages.)
  • Ensure you have Flash and Shockwave enabled. If you go to http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/welcome you can verify that flash is installed and working. (fyi: On my system I had Shockwave installed, but it did not work correctly until I did a reinstall.)

Also there is a known limitation with Hangout in the Windows 8 style interface, however, if you are running Hangouts from Desktop mode this should not be a problem.

Beyond this as far as I have been able to determine this is a limitation of the browser based version of hangouts (GMail, Google+, etc.). Each time I tested this implementation the only time I got any noticeable notification was if I already had a chat started and in some way active. New chats and messages sent when Window was not the active window we not present.

However, I did try the same after installing the Google Apps version. Since this version acts like a normal installed messaging client it was able to pop the chat box up and able to generate active system alert sounds.

Until Google finds a better method for the browser based versions of hangouts you may wish to install the apps version by going to the Hangouts homepage and selecting the Computers option for installation.

  • Thanks for the suggestion! I've actually already tried running both the browser version of Hangouts (in both Chrome and Firefox) as well as the Apps (Desktop?) version, though. Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 14:45
  • Could this be a Shockwave issue? If I go to that macromedia.com/shockwave/welcome page, I just see a static banner saying "Installation complete", not an "animation" as the line of text near the top of the page says I should see. (I get this same behavior in Chrome, Firefox, and IE11 on my PC.) What am I supposed to see on that page? Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 20:45
  • If I go to adobe.com/software/flash/about I do see an animation (a bouncing red cube), followed by an ad for Adobe products. Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 20:46
  • Yes on the Shockwave site it does appear as a static type image, but the image will only display if you have Shockwave installed. Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 21:03
  • Your not running any type of ad/popup blockers? Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 21:05

For some reason there are 2 different Hangouts versions available. When checking the Hangouts extension in Chrome, I saw that I had version 2015.120.1719.1. I first uninstalled/reinstalled shockwave as a precaution, and then I removed/reinstalled the Hangouts extension using the chrome web store. After doing so I still had the same version number.

I wasn't able to do any extensive testing, but the issue of notifications not showing seemed to be resolved in the short term (I tested with a co-worker by having him send me messages with the hangouts window both closed, open, and minimized).

After a bit of searching I found the homepage for Hangouts at http://www.google.com/hangouts/. I then removed the extension and installed from that site using the "computers" link. I now have version 2015.218.433.2 installed, and it functions quite differently than the previous; the interface is considerably different. I have no idea why they would keep different versions posted in different places, pretty inconsistent for being a Google product.

I have tested the new version briefly, but only real, everyday use will tell if the notification issues are resolved. The interface update, and the way it minimizes to a icon button seems decent, and I think I'll end up liking it.

I hope something in all of that was useful. Thanks for the tip about uninstalling/resintalling shockwave.

  • +1. Very interesting! I too had 2015.120.1719.1. I didn't uninstall/reinstall Shockwave, but just skipped straight to uninstalling the Hangouts extension in Chrome and then reinstalling it via google.com/hangsouts > computers, and I'm now on 2015.218.433.2 as well, and the UI is indeed different! I'll report back on whether there's been any difference with IMs working. (Running Windows 8.1.) Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 18:40
  • Since yesterday I've had some MAJOR issues with the new version. This morning hangouts wouldn't connect at all and was acting as if I didn't have an internet connection. I tried rebooting my computer and even uninstalling/reinstalling the extension from google.com/hangouts to no avail. I eventually just reverted back to the version from the chrome store, and consequently the issues with notifications not sounding/showing. I suppose no notifications is better than no IMs at all LOL. I really wish Google would get it together with this product, and understand that businesses do want to use it. Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 18:52
  • The new version (2015.218.433.2) seems to be working okay for me so far, and the notifications seem to be working okay once again as well; keeping my fingers crossed! Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 18:54

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