Update: For the full list of Gmail chat emoticons, including the new category-four smileys and the new robot smiley, see Gmail Chat Smileys.
Currently Gmail Chat does not support formatting like Yahoo or others do. But there are some things you can do to spice up the experience, such as it is. Some of this applies to Gtalk, some doesn’t.
Previously, we’ve covered bold, italics, and special characters (like ♫♥☼). We also noted that Google added an incoming-chat sound and the ability to add a picture to a Gmail contact.
However, here are some more Gmail Chat features.
To recap the text formatting…
Italics – you can surround text with an underscore (“_”) to italicize it. For example “_this_ is important” displays as “this is important”
Bold – if you surround text with astericks (“*”) it will display as bold. “*This* is important” displays as “this is important”
Update (6/6/2009): Strike through – surround text with hypens (“-“) to cross it out. “-This- is crossed out” will display as “
This is crossed out”.
You can copy-paste special characters from charmap (in Windows) or another character map application or website into your messages. Try copy-pasting any of the following characters into a Gmail chat window (or status, see below):
Whoops! A WordPress upgrade somehow munged these characters. I’ll work on recreating.
If any of your Gmail contacts are online, they can be displayed to the left of the browser window, with an icon and chat status message displayed as well. Contact status icons can be either grey, red, orange, or green indicating that the contact is offline, busy, idle, or online and available (respectively).
However, if the contact has set a status message, it will be displayed below the contact name. This status message can also be formatted (bold and/or italic) and can include special characters. For example, you might use ♫♪ to indicate the obvious.
Further, you can include a domain in your status and it will hyperlink automatically. Type techrageo.us as your status and it becomes techrageo.us all by itself.
Gmail’s Chat has slick little animated emoticons. No, not the ubiquitous yellow smiley faces, but a clever modern take on the original text emoticons.
And no, unfortunately the emoticons don’t work in the status messages. Come on, Google. I can \m/ rock out in chat, but I have to ♫♪ in my status message. Oh, well, I guess that’s okay.
Say you receive an email and want to send a quick reply. If the person to whom you’re replying is online, you can also reply to their email message via chat.
Also, your chat history is saved. On the left side of the Gmail browser window, a couple items below Inbox is Chats. Click that to get a history of your chats. If you “Go Offline with…” a contact, that chat is not saved. Also, you can turn off the feature that saves chats.
Gmail Chat Help is a good overview of the features