Enchancing Gmail Chat

Perhaps you’re a Gmail user. Perhaps you’ve considered taking advantage of its new integrated chat feature. Perhaps you’ve been perplexed about how to make it usable as a real chat application.

Well if that’s the case, you and I have a lot in common.

You see, while I wanted to have the chat feature available to me, I didn’t want to install Google Talk on my work computer. Our IT department doesn’t like it when you install software without approval.

So Gmail’s built-in chat was the answer for me. As I started messing with it, however, I discovered a “flaw” that made it impractical to use in my normal work setting. That “flaw” was the lack of “Always on top” functionality. That is, I want to be able to keep an eye on my chat conversations while I am doing other things. Going back to the chat window every 20 seconds to see if a friend client has responded is just not a good way to be productive. I need my chat windows to stay on top of any window I’m using so I can keep an eye on them while still getting work done.

So off to Google I went. And that’s where I found the aptly-named, Always On Top Maker by FAD Software. This handy piece of software lets you use some quick keyboard shortcuts (CTRL + ALT + T, to be exact) to turn the “Always on top” feature on or off for any particular window. And it’s just a small executable file. Perfect.

To get it to work upon reboot of the ol’ PC, just throw it into your Startup folder (probably located at C:/Documents and Settings/All Users/Start Menu/Programs/Startup/ on your Windows machine).

So now, all I have to do is use the Gmail chat window’s “Pop-out” feature, size it down a bit, and hold down CTRL + ALT + T. Voila – it’s now safely chillin’ on my lower right – comforting me with its soft, Googly glow. Enjoy.