Gmail Chat’s “Always show” or “Never show” options not sticking

I’ve recently taken a liking to Gmail’s built-in web interface to Google Talk.  However, since I started using it for most of my chatting activities, I’ve noticed an odd bug.

If you hover over a contact and then click on the “Video and More” button, you get a nifty menu like this:

What I’m interested in is the option to “Always show” or “Never show” a contact.  If I have a contact that I don’t talk to very often, or if a contact has several accounts but only uses one of them most of the time, I may want to hide some of them from my list.  Additionally, there are some people that I might want to have on my list all the time, and not have them hidden at Google’s whim if I don’t talk to them very often.

Well, for some contacts, this setting seemed to be stuck on “Auto.”  You could make a selection, and a confirmation message would appear at the top of the screen, but the behavior of the contact on the list would not change, and if you pull up the menu again, it’s still there on “Auto.”

I’ve been following this thread (among others) in the Google Chat help forum.  A couple of solutions have been posted.

The first one, which will work for most Gmail users, is to just go to your iGoogle page, and use the chat contact list there to set your “Always show” and “Never show” preferences.  Somehow, this bug only affects the Gmail chat interface, and the one over at iGoogle works fine.

However, I’m a Google Apps user, and I don’t have a regular Gmail account.  As far as I know, there’s no way to use iGoogle with a Google Apps account.

So, this other solution, which was posted just yesterday by “zisvan” (thanks zisvan!), is a bit more tedious but it works fine with Google Apps accounts.

  • Click “Contacts” in your Gmail account to bring up the Google contacts manager.  Locate the contact that you would like to “Always show” or “Never show.”
  • Edit them, and remove the e-mail address associated with the contact you want to change on your chat list.  (Don’t delete the contact entry altogether, just remove the e-mail address and click “Save.”  If you have multiple e-mail addresses for the contact, just remove one of them.)  The contact will disappear from your chat list.
  • Create a new contact with the same name as the contact you just edited.  Put the e-mail address on this new contact, with no other details.
  • Now, the contact reappears on your chat list.  You can change the “Show in chat list” option and it will stick.
  • Once you’re done, click on the “My Contacts” category in the contacts manager, and then click the “Find duplicates” button on the right.  It should find the duplicate contact that you just created, since you gave them the same name, and offer to merge them for you.  Go ahead and do this, and you’ll just have one contact again, with the e-mail address and whatever extra details you had stored with them before.
  • Now, the contact is still in your chat list.  Furthermore, the “Show in contact list” option is stuck again, but instead of being stuck on “Auto,” it’s stuck on whatever you set it to.  If you ever want to change it again, you’ll have to repeat this process.

I’m not sure what causes this bug, but I found almost half of the contacts on my chat list to be affected by it.  Supposedly, Google is looking into it.  Hopefully, it will be fixed sooner or later!

12 thoughts on “Gmail Chat’s “Always show” or “Never show” options not sticking”

  1. Thank you so much! I have been trying to figure this out for a while and your solution worked liked a charm.

  2. It’s February, 2013, and I’m still having this problem. I read yours and zisvan’s discussion on another google forum, and that took place back in 2010. But, it is doing the same exact thing for me for some contacts. I successfully removed one contact, but unfortunately it was only a test, and I didn’t really want to remove that contact. The contact I do want to remove won’t budge. Can’t hide or block it.

  3. Oh yeah, one other thing: A lot of my contacts have an edit info link, but some of them don’t, so I can’t perform the operation on the contact that I want to hide or block. It is stuck on “Auto”. Sucks.

  4. How to get back never show list member to chat list again

    How to view never show list membe

  5. How to get back never show list member to chat list again

    How to view never show list member

  6. amusingly enough, i still have contacts in my chat window even after i deleted them from my address book. wtf google!

  7. Hi:
    This does not work for NON Gmail accounts. I am figuring out those NON Gmail accounts that show in the chat list are Frequent Contacts I email a lot or used to email a lot. I don’t want to remove their contact information, but I also don’t want them showing up on my chat list. Any suggestions? I’ve done research and all the I’m finding is what you suggested, which, as mentioned, does not work for NON Gmail accounts.

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