Disabling Google’s “Video Call” default in Google Apps (admin instructions)

Google are know for their ship early, ship often, which in many ways is “ship something that is buggy and not very user friendly, and then iterate like crazy, learning from how your users fail with your product to make it better”. The best known example of this was Gmail (famously in beta for over 5 years), but I think the clearest example of “launching shit and unusable and push it hard anyway” is Google Hangouts.

Unfortunately, Google’s efforts to push Hangouts before they’re ready is now going beyond just pitch meetings with Google Ventures or merging flaky Hangouts with SMS functionality on Android – now they’re getting in the way of business, and that just isn’t good enough.

Last week Google introduced a new default feature for Google Apps Calendar – when you create a new event, it will automatically add a link to the Google Hangout for the meeting “to save time and reduce last minute confusion and delays”. This is bullshit.

I’ve been using Google Calendar for almost a decade, and I’ve never forgotten to add a link to a service I’ve never wanted to use, but now Google is pushing Hangouts down our throats in Calendar we’re seeing real confusion – our users are now clicking on links to Hangouts in Calendar entries rather than the GoToWebinar or Join.me links we actually use.

Not to mention the prospective confusion of meeting for a coffee and them seeing the Hangout link. Yeah, time saving my arse.

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Unfortunately, your users can’t disable this feature themselves – only the admin can turn it off (or back on again) for everyone in your account. They didn’t make it easy to find or do though – so after some Monday morning frustration, I decided to get some screenshots and post the instructions here. Enjoy.

Turning it off via the Google Apps Admin Console

Of course, with Google Apps’ new “Look, it is like Windows 8 – everything is easier to use because you can’t find it” Admin panel, turning off this feature isn’t as easy as it should be. So, here’s how.

1. Head to the “Advanced settings” for Calendar in Google Apps

Simply substitute YOURDOMAIN with your actual Google Apps domain:

https://admin.google.com/YOURDOMAIN/AdminHome?pli=1&fral=1#AppDetails:service=Calendar&flyout=sharing

Once you’re there, you can disable this annoying “feature” and save your preferences.

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2. Reload your Google Calendar for the change to take effect

Just saving the change won’t apply until you refresh the browser window that Google Calendar is in. You DO NOT need to log off or do any special cache clearing. Win.

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169 thoughts on “Disabling Google’s “Video Call” default in Google Apps (admin instructions)

  1. This would be awesome except that Google seems to have changed the pages. I can’t find the “advanced settings” at all. And I don’t have any option to disable video calls that I can find. Sadness.

  2. Thank you SO much. I couldn’t find the “advanced settings” button either, BUT when I logged in as admin, and then copied your link it took me to MY advanced settings page and —- success!

  3. Freaking THANK YOU! That was driving me absolutely bonkers. I am a 1-person operation trying to keep a structured schedule to get more done. Once an hour, I am getting pop-ups to tell me my video call is about to start. Grrrr. Just changed the setting. Many thanks.

  4. Ditto on the thanks! I was looking all over the personal calendar settings for it, and even when I went to the domain settings still couldn’t find it.

  5. It looks like they’ve buried the option. I was ONLY able to find the option by re-using your URL. Thanks so much for posting this. All-day events would ring an alarm at midnight!! So utterly wrong of Google.

  6. Worked like a charm – OP and comments together. Some day… historians will look back through the sands of time and determine that this was the most valuable blog post ever published. Thank you for helping me retain my sanity.

  7. I still can’t see where to make the change. PLEASE update the instructions. You will be my hero. My Chrome is up to date, as is my operating system, OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. THANK YOU.

  8. These instructions worked perfectly for me…but I logged in as admin and then pasted in /AdminHome?fral=1#ServiceSettings/notab=1&service=calendar&subtab=org after the url AFTER I logged in (hope that makes sense).
    The spectacular part is that now, for the first time, my Join.Me plugin actually works right from the calendar!
    Now, I don’t need to go to the Join.Me site to create a meeting, then come back to the calendar to add guests, whose names don’t appear because I’m adding them after the software created the calendar item.
    This saves me tons of time and confusion. Geoff, you are a rock star!

  9. Sweet, thanks for posting these instructions. Having constant alerts popping up about non-existent video calls means I am less likely to notice a ‘real’ alert, one that requires me to do something.

  10. Thank you so much! I just copied the URL string and it worked perfectly. So annoying to have to delete the video conference each time I created an event!

  11. I did this, the box is not checked, but Video Call still appears…ON THE PRINTED AGENDA!
    I don’t know of a single soul who can click a video call link from a printed piece of paper.
    Disappointed.

  12. Thank you so much for posting this! Most annoying feature ever, I’ve actually had investors try to join a hangout instead of calling in – this stupid feature could literally cost us millions of dollars!

  13. Let me join the long list of people thanking you for this. What an annoyance. Had a client related issue today caused by this. Thanks for helping me put the kabosh to it!

  14. Either default isn’t the best fit for All users of a Domain. I don’t understand why Google doesn’t apply the feature as they have with @gmail.com accounts.

    Where users can specify THEIR default via their Google Calendar Settings. That way …those who enjoy the auto-add can have it that way…
    …those who hate auto-add can disable the feature…
    …and those who rarely use Google Calendar will discover the feature upon first use.

    One size fits all – rarely works.

    I for one love that they are added to events by default. Saves loads of time, and rarely are people confused. Anyone who joins you for coffee via hangout isn’t likely worth actually meeting with.

    Everyone who can, should call support and put in a feature request to place this setting in user’s Calendar Settings page.
    On by default,
    Off by default,
    Check box: Let users set their own on/off default.

    • This person^^ nailed it!
      The off/on domain wide setting is to wide a brush stroke.

      I’ve defended this feature many times, it is useful to many people – or easy to ignore for people who don’t use them.

      However heavy calendar users or people who use alternative video-conferencing solutions often complain over having to remove HVC links. I’m tired of defending how the feature is useful to some… why not just let users do wha they want?!

  15. Pingback: Disabling Google’s “Video Call” default in Google Apps (admin instructions) | We Are His Workmanship

  16. Pingback: Disabling Google’s “Video Call” default in Google Apps (admin instructions) | geoffmcqueen.com | daniel l. sonnenberg

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