How to Delete Messages in Google Hangouts

We’ve all said things we wish we could take back. And we’ve all sent messages we want deleted. In some cases, it may be possible. Google Hangouts is an app that offers such possibilities.

If you’ve sent something via Google Hangouts that you want to delete, you’ll be happy to know it’s possible. But there are a few caveats, so keep reading for more.

Deleting Messages in Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts has enjoyed an uptick in its user base recently. Perhaps consequently, it also received several updates in a short period.

An update in mid-2019 allowed users to delete sent messages in private chats. Before that, only G Suite enterprise users had the option to delete messages.

google hangouts delete messages

Unfortunately, you can’t delete conversations on both ends. That is to say, even if you delete one, the other participants will still be able to access it.

There is no way to delete messages from someone else’s device. Also, note that Google Hangouts doesn’t offer the option of deleting individual messages. You can only remove entire conversations with a single user or with a group.

Deleting Messages from Your Desktop

The simplest way to delete a message history with someone is to access Google Hangouts from your computer.

  1. Go to hangouts.google.com, or log in to your Gmail account and access Hangouts from there.
  2. You should now mouse over a conversation to reveal a hamburger icon next to it.
  3. Click the hamburger icon to access a drop-down menu.
  4. From the drop-down menu, select “Delete.”
  5. In the pop-up, click on the “Delete” button again.

You also have the option to “Archive” the conversation instead. Archiving removes the conversation from your active list and saves it in your archive.

If you just want to hide a conversation to declutter your list, it’s better to archive it. That way, you can go back and review it later if needed.

Deleting a conversation removes it from your records entirely.

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If you want to delete a group conversation, you don’t need to go through the trouble. Instead, simply leave the group, and it will disappear from your list.

Turn Off Conversation History

Deleting messages all the time can become a hassle. You might find it easier to turn off your conversation history if you delete messages frequently.

With the conversation history turned off, messages will only remain on your devices until shortly after you’ve seen them. Then, the app will delete them. That way, you don’t have to worry about going back and deleting your history.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to hangouts.google.com, or access it from your Gmail account.
  2. Open an active conversation and click on the cog icon at the top to open the Settings menu.
  3. In the settings, find “Conversation history” and uncheck it.
  4. Click the “OK” button.

If you alter the conversation history settings this way, Hangouts will notify everyone in the conversation.

Whenever you want to start saving the history again, repeat the process. Check the conversation history box, and Hangouts will begin keeping track of your conversations once more.

Again, it’s important to note that this is a unilateral action. The conversation history of other participants will be saved on their devices unless they choose not to keep it.

Deleting Conversations from the Hangouts Mobile App

A similar process will delete conversations on the mobile version of Google Hangouts.

  1. Open the Google Hangouts app.
  2. Select the conversation that you want to delete.
  3. Click on the hamburger icon in the top right corner.
  4. Then, select “Options” from the drop-down menu.
  5. Tap on “Delete conversation” near the bottom of the options.
  6. Tap “Delete” when the alert shows up.

Whether you delete the conversation on a smartphone or another device, it will get deleted everywhere. You delete it from your Google account, as well as your devices connected to it.

Deleting a Picture Sent via Google Hangouts

If you want to remove pictures that you shared through hangouts, you can do that in your Google album. And, this will delete the image on both ends of the conversation.

On your computer, go to get.google.com/albumarchive. In your album archive, you’ll find a folder labeled “photos from hangouts.” There, you’ll see all the pictures you’ve sent through Google Hangouts. Delete any images that you want to remove, and they will automatically disappear from the respective conversations.

If other participants downloaded the picture before you deleted it, there’s not much you can do.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Deleted Messages

You have a few options when it comes to deleting messages on Hangouts, but none of them can remove messages from the recipient’s device.

If you just want to manage your conversations better or want to safeguard information on your devices, you’re covered. You can delete conversations quickly and even prevent Hangouts from tracking your history altogether.

Unfortunately, if you want to “unsend” a message, there’s no real option to do that.

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