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Enable And Disable ‘Seen’ Report In Google Hangouts

I’m not entirely sure when this happened but jumping on to the bandwagon that prevents us from ignoring the people who IM us, Google has added the dreaded ‘Seen’ status report to Google Hangouts. When you read a message from a contact, they will know you’ve read it. The Chrome app, extension, Gmail Hangouts interface, and the Android app have been effected received the update. To be fair, you get proper warning of the new feature being enabled and unlike Whatsapp, Google Hangouts lets you disable it. Here’s how to do that in your browser, and on your Android device.

Android – Google Hangouts

Launch the Hangouts app and open the navigation drawer to visit the app’s settings. If you have more than one account configured, you will have to turn the ‘seen’ report off for each one separately. Select an account and when switched to its settings, you will see a brand new option ‘Show my last seen’ to enable or disable, as per your preference. The ‘Seen’ option in Hangouts on Android was added in version 2.5.

android_hangouts android_hangouts_seen

Chrome – Hangouts App & Extension

Click the little drop-down arrow next to the search bar at the top of the conversation threads to open the settings screen. Scroll down past the ‘Set your mood for today’ button and you will see the ‘Show my Hangouts contacts when I was last seen on Hangouts….’ option. Enable or disable it to suit yourself.


Gmail Interface

If you don’t have an Android phone, the Hangouts app or extension installed, or just don’t use Chrome, you can still use Hangouts in the Gmail web interface. Seen reports are enabled there as well though they are opt-in. To disable them, click the little drop-down arrow next to your user photo, scroll down past the ‘Set your mood for today’ option to find the same ‘Show my Hangouts contacts when I was last seen on Hangouts….’ option that you get with the app and extension.


  1. After disabling the “Last seen” function, there’s an annoying message on the hangouts window telling you about the function and a button to turn it back on — but there doesn’t seem to be any way of dismissing the message. Any ideas?

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