This article is written for Google Workspace for Education Administrators.

Schools want to restrict students from chatting in Gmail using the Google Chat widget located in the left navigation bar. It's a distractive feature for students. Here are 3 ideas.

Method 1. Disable Google Chat Service

If your school disallows students' use of the Google Chat service, then the Google Chat can be disabled from Google Admin Console.

  1. Sign into Admin Console.
  2. Go to Apps > Google Workspace > Google Chat > Service status.
  3. Select your students' OU on the left.
  4. Select Both turned off.
turn off google chat service from Google Admin Console, made by xFanatical
Turn off Google Chat service from Google Admin Console, made by xFanatical

After turning off the Google Chat service, students cannot find and use the Chat features in Gmail. This only applies to the students' OU. Staff OUs are not impacted.

Method 2. URL Blocking

Google was aware of this issue and provided a solution for it, Block Google Chat on school-managed Chromebooks. Here is a short recap.

  1. Sign into Admin Console.
  2. Click Devices > Chrome management > User & browser settings.
  3. Select your students' organizational unit, and next to URL blocking, enter this URL:
  4. Under URL blacklist exceptions, enter this URL:

This method is limited to school-managed Chromebooks and it may not be applicable for other Google Workspace environments.

Method 3. Remove Chat in Gmail with Safe Doc

The xFanatical Safe Doc chrome extension has the ability to disable Google Chat in Gmail too. If you have yet to install Safe Doc, apply for a 30 days trial.

The method only blocks the Chat & Spaces features in Gmail. The Google Chat app is not blocked.

What's changed?

It's straightforward to see the change with the following screenshot. The Chat and Spaces navigation links are removed. Students will no longer see the existence of Google Chat embedded in Gmail.

xFanatical Safe Doc blocks the Chat and Spaces features in Gmail
Safe Doc blocks the Chat and Spaces features in Gmail

How to get started?

Assuming you have deployed Safe Doc and read Safe Doc configuration, add the following policy to block the Chat navigation links..

"BlockGmailChat": {
  "Value": true

To restore the Chat feature, remove this policy or set it to false.