There’s a new trend in the world of instant messaging: letting other people see when you’ve read their message. I can see how this is helpful, but it’s also sometimes annoying—what if you read a message but can’t respond immediately? For many people, they feel like it makes them look rude, regardless of circumstance.

RELATED: How to Stop Your WhatsApp Friends from Knowing You've Read Their Messages

These notifications are called “read receipts”, and it’s not uncommon for users to want to disable them. We’ve covered how to do so in iMessage and WhatsApp in the past. If you’re an Android user (or Google user in general), and use Hangouts for the primary form of messaging, it’s very simple to keep people from knowing you’ve read their message—the setting is just a little cryptic.

We’ll cover how to disable “seen” notification in Android, in the Chrome extension, and on the web down below, but be aware you only have to do it in one place. This setting syncs across your account, making it super easy to control.

How to Disable Hangouts “Seen” Notifications on Android

On your Android phone, open Hangouts. From there, tap the menu button in the top left corner. From there, tap on “Settings.”

In the Account section, choose the account you’d like to tweak.

This is where things get a little weird—you’re going to choose the “Share your status” option.

In this menu there are two options: Last Seen and Device. You’re going to disable the former, as that’s the one that not only allows people to see when you were last active, but also that you read their message. Like I said earlier, it’s not super straightforward.

That’s it. This setting should sync to the desktop as well, so you shouldn’t need to do anything else.

How to Disable Hangouts “Seen” Notification in the Chrome Extension

If you’d prefer to disable this option from the desktop, go ahead and launch the Hangouts app from the Chrome extension, then click the menu button in the upper-left corner.

This will open Hangouts’ Options menu where the conversation window generally is—you just need to disable the first option, labeled “Show when you were last active.”

That’s it! Even easier than Android.

How to Disable Hangouts “Seen” Notifications in Gmail

Lastly, you can disable this setting directly from Gmail if you want. On the main Gmail screen, look to the sidebar, then click the Hangouts balloon icon in the bottom bar.

From here, click the drop-down box with your name, which will open the Options menu. De-select “Show when you were last active.” That’s it.

Profile Photo for Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is ex-Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek and served as an Editorial Advisor for How-To Geek and LifeSavvy. He covered technology for a decade and wrote over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
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