Google’s standalone instant messenger, Google Talk
, is light-weight and has everything that anyone really needs from the IM
software. It even allows you to talk online for free. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to start using it to chat with friends.
1. Download the software
You will need to be running Windows XP or above. For free Google-compatible IM software for OSX, use iChat, or download Trillian-Messenger which is also compatible with a range of other IM services.
Visit Google.com/talk and click on “Download Google Talk” on the right. Ignore the video chat plug-in software on the left as (used with Gmail chat, a browser-based web app).
2. Install Google Talk
When asked by your browser, you can either run or save the installation file to your computer . Run it if you can, otherwise save it to your desktop and run it after the download finishes.
Click “I Agree” to the license agreement and terms of service and wait for the files to extract and install. Click “Finish” to close Google Talk setup.
3. Sign in to Google Talk
The Google Talk client should start automatically. Enter your Google login details, usually your Gmail or Googlemail email address and password.
If you do not have login details, visit Gmail.com and register an account for free.
4. Understand the IM list
You should now see the chat list which shows some of your Gmail contacts and whether or not they are online. Everyone will not be available, or have the Google Talk software. If you cannot see a friend, you can search for them and they will appear if you have ever sent or received an email from them in your Gmail account.
You can invite friends to the service by clicking on the “+Add” in the bottom left corner of the contact list. Enter their email address, or addresses separated by a comma, or search for them in your contacts list.
5. Start text chatting
Click on one of your online contacts to bring up the IM window. Any smiley that you enter, automatically convert into emoticons.
You can apply some basic text formatting. To make your text bold, place it within two asterisks. To underline, use “_” instead and for strike-through, use hyphens.
6. Take advantage of the free voice calls
You can also start a voice call by right-clicking on the contact and selecting “Call”. This will initiate a free Voice-over-IP, or VoIP conversation, very much like Skype.
You and your friend will need microphones and speakers or headsets in order to make voice calls. You will not be charged to make the call as the technology works using internet-based technology rather than a telephone network.
7. Explore the other features and settings
Play around with the settings to customise Google Talk to your own requirements. Explore the other features such as file transfers and voice-mail.