It is well known that due to a “bug in Gmail” [sic], it is possible to detect whether a user (that is apparently offline) is really offline (or has blocked you) or he/she is just hiding in invisible mode. To do so all you have to is to go in the Actions menu (in your chat box) and select “Go off the record”, and then send a simple message to the user. Absence of error message implies that the user is online, and hiding.
This is probably yesterday’s news for most of you, but a small detail is being often overlooked is that this option is clickable only if the other party is online. This complicates things a bit, as those people that love to practice the “invisible mode”, almost never show up online giving you almost zero chance to reveal them.
This article explains how to overcome this obstacle, by presenting one way to go off the record with a user, even when he is (or appears to be) offline, causing the “Go off the record” option to be disabled (“grayed”). The procedure that is described below is not trivial, but also not prohibitive, even for the average user. You may also need to install some additional software. So, let’s get started!
We need a Web Browser that is capable of Inspecting Elements (that is, when you right-click somewhere in the page, you get a “Inspect element” item in the context menu). I suggest either using Chrome, or Firefox with the Firebug plugin installed. For this example, I’m going with Chrome, because the desired functionality is built-in, and I don’t have to install any additional plugins.
Whenever you’re ready with the browser of your choice, enter your Gmail account and open a chat window with the person that you want to go off the record. Remember that if the person is offline (which is possibly our case), you must not just click on the person’s name, but rather you must click on the “Chat” button in the pop-up box.
In the chat window, click in the Actions menu. The menu shows up and the “Go off the record” is disabled (grayed):
Now be careful not to close the menu and right-click on exactly that menu item. You will see the context menu:
Now click on the “Inspect element” item of the context menu. The “Developer Tools” console will open at the bottom of your browser (or in a pop-up window), and a TD html element will be highlighted:
Then you must locate the nearest parent DIV element of the TD element. It must be 3-4 lines above:
You should be able to see the attribute class=”jM jK”. What you must do now is to change the class “jM” to “jL”. Double click between the double quotes to start the attribute value editor. Then simply change “jM” to “jL”. And press Enter to save the modification.
And almost magically the “Go off the record” menu item is now enabled for you to click it!
I hope this helped! 🙂