/me discovers a hidden trick in Google Chat

I just sent a friend a Google Chat message and got a reply in this form:

/me discovers a hidden trick in Google Chat


This blew my mind. I’d seen similar things on old bulletin boards, but I’d never heard of it being possible on Google Chat. Naturally I wanted to know how it was done.


Clearly he wasn’t eager to give up his secret. But after a bit of thought I worked it out:


The trick is very simple: just type “/me” at the start of your message and Google Chat will present the rest of the text as an action. In the conversation above what I actually typed was “/me tries this.” This is an old command from IRC, the grand-daddy of internet chat services; but I had no idea it would work in Google Chat. Indeed, it doesn’t seem to be documented anywhere.

The best part is, my friend was being perfectly truthful. He’s an old-school kernel hacker, and he does indeed use “/me” in regular emails, along with many other traditional geek phrases. He was as surprised as I when Google Chat interpreted it correctly.

Now however, we know the secret – and you do too.

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