Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and
in-depth research determine where and how companies may appear. Learn more about how we make money.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

By Alix Langone
May 7, 2018
A Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Note Edge smartphone running the Android mobile operating system displays the Google Inc. Hangouts app in this arranged photograph in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.
A Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Note Edge smartphone running the Android mobile operating system displays the Google Inc. Hangouts app in this arranged photograph in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

We’ve all probably done it—messaged a friend about job drama or something personal while at work.

Numerous studies have found many Americans admit to spending some portion of their work day on personal things like emails and phone calls. A 2015 Findlaw.com survey found 50% of Americans said they used the internet for personal reasons while at work, and a 2014 CareerBuilder survey showed at least one in four workers admitted they spent at least one hour at work on “personal calls, emails or texts.”

Chances are high you were hoping to keep at least some of those conversations private. But deleting them, particularly on Google Hangouts (also known as Gchat), is quite complicated. Similar to trying to delete your Google search history, deleting your Google Hangouts history is not as simple as clicking a button. That’s because whoever you’re chatting with also has a copy of the chat, meaning they would also need to delete their history to eliminate the conversation’s online record.

“When you delete your message history, this is deleted from Gmail and Hangouts on all your devices. Other people in the Hangout can still see the history,” Google explains on its help page. Google did not respond to a request for comment on whether Hangouts history is still ultimately stored on Google servers.

Follow these steps to delete your Gchat history. If you want to ensure an entire chat history is deleted, make sure you tell whoever you were talking with to also follow these steps:

  1. On your computer, go to Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. Select a conversation.
  3. At the top of the conversation window, click Settings.
  4. Select Delete conversation.
  5. If you’re sure you want to delete your conversation, click Delete.

For deleting messages in group chats, according to Google, you’re out of luck. “You can’t delete the history for a group, but you can leave the conversation. If someone adds you back to the group conversation, you’ll be able to see the history again,” according to Google’s help page.

You can proactively prevent your Google Hangouts data from being saved moving forward by toggling your conversation history off by following these five easy steps:

  1. On your computer, go to Hangouts at hangouts.google.com or in Gmail.
  2. Open a conversation.
  3. At the top, click Settings.
  4. Check or uncheck “Conversation history.
    • Checked: History is turned on. Messages can be seen in the Hangouts on all your devices and in Gmail.
    • Unchecked: History is turned off. Messages can only be seen for a short time on your devices. Then, the messages won’t be saved and will be deleted.
  5. Click Ok.
  • Checked: History is turned on. Messages can be seen in the Hangouts on all your devices and in Gmail.
  • Unchecked: History is turned off. Messages can only be seen for a short time on your devices. Then, the messages won’t be saved and will be deleted.

However, even with this option there is no guarantee of privacy. Google explicitly notes that network administrators can change this option and that the people you chat with may still have a copy of conversation. “If you use Google through your work or school, your domain administrator can set and change this setting. If you talk to someone who uses a different chat app, their app may keep a separate copy of the conversation’s history,” Google notes on its site.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

EDIT POST