Under Settings > Chat, I have "Only allow people that I've explicitly approved to chat with me and see when I'm online" checked.

I want to know how to revoke chat permissions for someone whom I've previously allowed without clicking "Block" (blocking them across the Google network--see http://google.com/support/chat/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=161879) and without deleting them from my contacts list (so that I have to re-invite them to chat or I have to approve their request to chat with me or see when I'm online).

  • This question has been answered over here.
    – hairboat
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 19:02

5 Answers 5


I have struggled with this problem for the better part of this afternoon. There are several iterations of this question posted in the support forums, and so far I have not seen a single satisfactory answer. But I stumbled upon a solution. Others were on the threshold of the solution by suggesting that the individual contacts you want removed be deleted from Contacts and, if you wished to retain them as email contacts, recreated.

This solution works in that, after performing it, the following will be true (1) no one will be able to see your Chat or Google Talk status unless you have invited that person or accepted their invitation and (2) no one will be able to send you instant messages without you first inviting that person or accepting their invitation.

The best way to perform this solution is in a secondary browser, if you have one, because it requires the deletion of all cookies, cache, and history in the browser. This may not be absolutely essential to the solution, but I did not test the solution without this step.

Warning: this solution requires the user to backup all contacts, delete all contacts, and then restore them. I have done this with three of my Gmail accounts and all contacts were restored without any problems. However, do this at your own risk.

  1. Log into your Gmail account.
  2. Go to Settings / Chat and confirm that the option "Only allow people that I've explicitly approved to chat with me and see when I'm online" is checked.
  3. Log off Chat.
  4. Open Contacts, select Export (top right), select "Everyone (All Contacts)", make sure "Google CSV" is selected, and click "Export." Save the file to a location where you will be able to find it easily.
  5. Click "All Contacts" in the left hand pane, click "Select: All" in the middle pane, and click "Delete Contacts" in the right hand pane. Confirm the deletion.
  6. Exit Contacts and open it again to confirm that you have 0 contacts in all groups.
  7. Close all instances of the browser you are using (ideally, confirm in Task Manager that the process for the browser has been ended...this is for PCs).
  8. Reopen the browser, clear all history, cache, and cookies.
  9. Close the browser and reopen.
  10. Log into Gmail.
  11. In Chat, click "Options" and select "All Contacts" in "Show in Chat List" (you may still see names in the list at this point - don't worry about this).
  12. Click Contacts. If any of the contact groups have any contacts in them, select all and delete again. (In my case, a couple of names crept back in for some reason.)
  13. Select "Import" in the right pane.
  14. Click "Choose File" and find the exported contact list (default name is "google.csv").
  15. Do NOT select "Also add these imported contacts to..." The exported contacts contain group information and all groups will be recreated as they existed prior to deletion.
  16. Click "Import."
  17. Shut down the browser, reopen, and log back into Gmail.
  18. At this point, if your Chat list is empty, you are done. In my case it wasn't, but I confirmed that the people in the list at this point were unable to see my online status and if they tried to send me a chat, I would receive a prompt in the Chat window asking me if I wished to accept their invitation. Clicking "no" would not add them to the list, and they would remain unable to see my online status or to chat with me absent an accepted invitation. However, you have the option of cleaning up this phantom chat list: 18a. Hover over each remaining name in the Chat list, mouse over to "More," click it, and select "Never Show." The interesting part is that though you get a confirmation of this action in the top bar of Gmail, it doesn't always actually remove the name from the list. You may have to click on "Never Show" a couple of times, or log out and log back in, or perhaps something else. This appears to be a bug. One thing I found that worked was to have someone (anyone) send me a chat invite, decline the invitation, and then the list emptied on its own. But when I logged back in I had a couple of other phantom names. I have confirmed several times that these people are unable to see my online status or send me chats without first sending me an invitation.

Sorry for the verbosity of this writeup, but this is what worked for me and I wanted to share it. Good luck!


Hover over the name of the person in the chat list, and the contact info box pops up. Click on the “Video & more” button, and select “Never show” under “Show in chat list”. That will remove the person from the chat list, but you can still chat with him/her by going to the Contacts section.

  • 1
    I understand how to do that, but if you'll re-read my question, you'll find that's not what I asked.
    – jsejcksn
    Commented Sep 4, 2010 at 2:31

When they say that blocking them will block them across the entire google network, all that means is that they will be blocked from chatting with you regardless of whether you're logged in to gmail, using chat in iGoogle, using the Gtalk desktop client, or logged in with a 3rd party XMPP client. They will still be able to view your profile, send you mail, access documents you share with them, etc. The block option will do exactly what it sounds like you want it to do. When you want to chat with them again, just change it from Blocked to Show, and you're back in business.

  • I understand that you can do that as well... part of my question is "so that I have to re-invite them to chat or I have to approve their request to chat with me or see when I'm online." If I block them and they request to chat with me again, I will not get a notification. I don't want to cease contact with them via chat forever, but I don't want them in my list and I don't want them to be able to see my online status either.
    – jsejcksn
    Commented Sep 6, 2010 at 4:24

For what you want, you will have to remove them from your list. Simply delete the contact. They will have to ask to chat with you again.


Use a chat client like Miranda or Pidgin to connect to gChat, then delete the contact from there.

  • Thanks for the input. I tried this (via Messages on OS X) but there's no way to tell if it worked now that Hangouts has replaced Google Talk in the browser.
    – jsejcksn
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 19:47

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