What It Means When Someone Disappears Off Your Google Chat List

By Carolyn Luck

You can decode the Google Chat list disappearing act.
i John Rowley/Photodisc/Getty Images

As a small business owner using Gmail to manage communication with vendors and customers, your Chat list can be a valuable tool. Fully customizable chat settings enable you to designate how and when you communicate with contacts. It can be frustrating to attempt to chat about pressing business matters, only to find that your intended audience is no longer visible on your Chat list. There are a variety of reasons to explain these disappearances, most of which can be remedied by settings adjustments on your part.

Chat Status

The most likely reason for a contact to disappear from your Google Chat list is due to a change in their status. Chat status can be set to “Available,” “Busy” or “Invisible,” and can be updated regularly as member availability fluctuates. Members who are logged in to their Google accounts during the work day may opt for an “Invisible” or “Busy” status to discourage or prevent people from contacting them. If a member’s name has disappeared from your Chat list, he has likely set his status to “Invisible.” Note that members who appear with a green icon are online and ready to chat, while an idle status is denoted by a yellow icon, signifying a lack of activity for at least 15 minutes. The red icon means a member is too busy to chat.


Another possible cause for a missing contact is the block feature. When someone blocks you, that person can no longer see or communicate with you. Connections are removed both ways, making it impossible for you to see their activity or their presence across Google, including in your Chat list. You won’t be notified when someone blocks you, unless that person includes an optional message. This can make it more difficult to figure out just why that person has disappeared from your Chat list. Note that you must also block members in Google+ in order to prevent them from seeing you in their circles and communicating with you using Google+ channels.

Sorting Settings

Default settings will sort your Chat list according to communication frequency. Contacts with whom you have the most contact will appear at the top of your list unless you say otherwise. To change your Gmail sorting settings, click the triangle-shaped icon at the top of your Chat list and select a sorting option from the “Show in chat list:” section of the resulting drop-down menu. Select “Most Popular” and then choose your desired size to filter the list by communication frequency. Or you can select “All Contacts” to filter your Chat list alphabetically. As an added feature, you can set your preferences to always show (or never show) a specific member in your Chat list, assuming that person has not opted for an “Invisible” status. Enter a member’s name in the “Search People” box at the top of your Chat list and check or uncheck the “Show in chat list” option.

Resizing List

Resizing your Chat list affects the number of names that appear on the list. Depending on list size, this can cause member names to disappear from your current display. Resizing does not affect the appearance of members’ names on your master list. Sizes include “Tiny,” “Small,” “Medium” and “Large” and, as list size decreases, the number of disappearing names increases. Resize your list upon adjusting sorting settings. Select the “All Contacts” option and select a list size.