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I have never had a web cam on my computer and have always had a fear that it would conflict with my other utilities. Never really considered a “video chat service” and could not see the value in time or money that I knew would be required. Now for less than $20 (Cost of an inexpensive web cam), video chat is accessible to even the low-tech users like me.

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Gmail and Gmail Voice Chat is a free user-friendly Gmail application I found quite by accident earlier this year. I decided to test it out and to my surprise, a few clicks later I was up and running. I am now connecting with clients and guests easier than I ever thought possible. Everybody has Gmail, and installation is a breeze, so this feature’s popularity and widespread usage is assured.

The download is simple, easy and free. The picture is clear and voice communication is flawless. This application can be used without the camera and can just be voice activated all while continuing to work online. Overall, it was easy to connect and begin to use this feature. I found it to be an excellent addition to Gmail’s collection of applications.

Browser: Internet Explorer

1. With Gmail and Gmail Voice installed, make sure your computer has a web cam and that it is operating correctly, next find the NEW FEATURES when signing into Gmail on the bottom right. Scroll down to find "Talk face-to-face with Gmail Voice and Video Chat and learn more."

2. Once signed into Gmail you will see your options in the upper left hand corner for calendar, documents, more, and other options. Select the "more" dropdown list to select "even more" where you'll be taken to a different page with a full selection of Google options.

3. In the Communicate, Show, and Share section, Select "Talk" *Select the link on the page that says "Video chat right from Gmail" to ensure you download video chat rather than only downloading Google Talk.

4. After the installation you will be asked to reload your browser. You may need to reload your browser twice to complete installation.

5. Once your browser has been reloaded you will find a small camera icon next to your name in Gmail chat. Remember, to chat live with other users they will also need to have installed video chat.

6. To start, double-click to connect with someone, and then select "Video & more" and "start voice chat" (there will be a camera icon here). For only voice chatting, select the microphone. The connection will ring like a phone and automatically turn on your web cam. Video has a picture in picture feature so you will be able to see yourself as well as the other person. You can click the "pop out" icon to enlarge the screen or the view in full screen mode.

7. Now you are ready to chat face to face with friends, meet you clients or spend time with family members!

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