Disable Google Hangout’s auto-mute on typing

Damnit, Google. Sometimes, you make product improvements that are awesome. Other times, you make “improvements” that are downright depressing regressions.

In an effort to stop the annoying sensation that happens when you are on a Google Hangout video conference and you hear nothing but your colleague’s “tap-tap-tap” on their loud programmer keyboards, Google added a feature to the software that automatically detects when someone is typing and auto-mutes them.

This is a nice idea, but what about when talking while typing is what you actually want to do? In this case, Google provides no recourse. And indeed, recently I gave a walkthrough to my team of a new code project, but constantly cut out because as I was showcasing ideas in code (and even simply navigating code with my keyboard using vim), Google would constantly mute me and make me cut out. Damnit, Google! You suck!

Well, Internet users unite! We have a working fix for this “feature”.

Someone blogged with a Mac OS X workaround that uses the defaults command-line tool to change the Talk Plugin’s settings and disable auto-muting-on-type. Someone on Google+ posted a Windows Registry hack that does the same thing. And I figured out the Linux equivalent based on these, which involves modifying ~/.config/google-googletalkplugin/options. I contributed my Linux based fixed to my home repository in Github, which contains all my versioned dotfiles. The specific fix for Linux is in this commit.

Good riddance! I’ve also proved it works by recording this Google Hangout typing test. If you don’t like my tap-tap-tap, then mute me — but I’m no longer going to be censored by Google’s crap audio detection algorithm. Programmers: happy hacking — and typing!

Leave a Reply