For the longest time, the one thing I’ve liked about Windows Live Messenger over Google Talk is the option to “Appear Offline.” There are times when I’ve wanted to set myself to “offline” in Google Talk without actually being offline for those instances when I’m really trying to focus and get something done and I don’t want to be interrupted. Up until recently, the only thing I could do was set my status to “Busy” but even then, people still talked to me to see if I really was busy. Google has partially solved my dilemma by adding an “invisible” option.
This new “invisible” option is found only in Gmail Chat (not Google Talk) in the drop-down menu with the other status options. Once you click “invisible,” you will appear offline to your contacts but you’ll still be able to see who is online. You’ll also be able to talk to someone even with your status set to invisible, which is nice.
For those of you who only use Google Talk and would like a similar feature available to you, there’s a Freeware application called gAlwaysIdle which will allow you to always appear Idle. It’s not exactly the same as being invisible because you’ll still appear online, but it shows that you’re away from your computer. The only downside is that at this point, it’s available only for Windows. A screenshot below shows the menu options you’ll see once you install gAlwaysIdle.