Google Talk is an instant messaging software program for Windows that can be used to chat with friends and colleagues, initiate file transfers, do voice over IP and to send and receive voicemails. It's basically an instant messaging client for the desktop that automatically includes Google Mail contacts for convenience.
Update: Google Talk is no longer available as a program for Windows and mobile operating systems such as Android. Google started to recommend Google Hangouts to users instead.
Here is a great tip on how to add Google Talk contacts as shortcuts to the Windows desktop so that you can chat with, or call, select contacts with a double-click on those shortcuts.
While this may not be something that all users may want to do, it may speed things up for heavy Google Talk users or users of the service who only chat with one or two contacts all the time.
Since the tip makes use of shortcuts on Windows, it is possible to integrate those into other applications, for instance the application and file launcher Launchy to speed things up even further.
To add a Google Talk contact as a shortcut do the following. Right-click on the desktop and select New > Shortcut. Enter the following string as the location of the item: gtalk:chat?jid=<name>@email.com.
Note that you need Google Talk installed on the system for this to work. If you have not done so already, download it first before you create the shortcut.
Change <name>@email.com to the email address of the contact in Google Talk. Click on the Next button and add a descriptive name for the shortcut. If everything worked out well clicking on the shortcut will open the chat window immediately so that you can start typing right away. This happens even if Google Talk does not run at the time. If Google Talk is not started yet, clicking on the shortcut will launch Google Talk on the system, and open the chat window after the login procedure automatically.
Update: You can also replace chat with call to instantly call someone in Google Talk.
Update 2: Google Talk has been replaced with Google Hangouts and the computer client was removed in the process. Google only makes available a Chrome extension now that needs to be installed in the browser and it does not seem to support the shortcut functionality anymore.
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