Google Invisibility Tracker
4.33(86.67%) 6 votes



This plugin informs you when a buddy of yours goes invisible. This is possible only if your buddy uses Gmail chat or Google Talk Lab Edition or iGoogle chat.
How? Why?
The reason is that these 3 clients use to send a vcard node when they go offline while when going invisible they send a plain unavailable presence. This means that if we analyze all unavailable presences sent by online buddies we can discover if they’re going offline or invisible. Obviously you have to be online (or at least invisible) to catch the presence.

Note that there’s a odd case: if shared status is invisible we cannot state if the chat is turned on while if shares status is not invisible we’re sure that an unavailable presence (with the vcard) means that the buddy has the chat turned off (in that client/resource obviously!).

There is an easy way to cheat this plugin: just use a XMPP client without Google Shared Status (i.e. Pidgin, Psi, Kopete) and set the resource to “gmail” or “iGoogle” or “TalkGadget” and after login go offline. The client will send a presence unavailable without vcard so the plugin will catch you as Invisible.


  • I’ve not tested this idea very much so if you think there’s something wrong please make me know! I know for sure there’re some false positives. If you had experience of this please send me as details as possible. Thanks!
  • This plugin works only with Gmail address with domain I know that I could use Google Talk flag to get all Gmail accounts but this is not possible in Debian by using only pidgin-dev dependencies. If you know a better way to do this please contact me!
  • Because my friend Alessandro complained that a popup every time a buddy goes invisible is quite annoying (and he’s definitively right! :) ), I’ve made it optional. Now you can be informed in several ways:
    • Debug window: the most verbose and always enabled;
    • Popup: old annoying method;
    • Conversations Message: a message appears in all conversations windows;
    • System Log: a message is written in system log;

*** Popup, Conversations Message and System Log are disabled by default, this means you have to enable them in configurations! ***


Compiled on libpurple 2.7.1 (this means you have to use this version or newer!).

ARCH File Last Update Version
Win32* 19/01/2011 0.2.2
Linux i386 google-invisibility-tracker-0.2.2.i386.tar.gz 19/01/2011 0.2.2
Linux amd64 (thanks to dbenux!) google-invisibility-tracker-0.2.2.amd64.tar.gz 19/01/2011 0.2.2
Source google-invisibility-tracker-0.2.2.src.tar.gz 19/01/2011 0.2.2

* Tested on Windows XP and Windows 7 (not always true :))


Date Version Note
19/01/2011 0.2.2 Nothing new but I’ve add a Makefile to make compiling easier and more efficient. Now unused dependencies like gtk are no more needed (Finch users should be happy!)
29/10/2010 0.2.1 Added a timestamp and some other info to popup alert (thanks to Bharath Rajaram)
28/10/2010 0.2 I’ve fixed a bug about status recheck. That probably was the major cause of unreliability
14/10/2010 0.1.2 Added a recheck of buddy status after a timeout (default 10s) to avoid/reduce false positives due to network errors
22/07/2010 0.1.1 Popup are now optionals. Added alerts in conversations and system log
16/07/2010 0.1 First


For bugs reports, hints, … email me at federico.zanco ( at )

How to build:

To build the plugin you have to install gcc, GNU make and pidgin dependencies
(or maybe only libpurple if in your os they are distribuited separately).
I.e. in Debian/Ubuntu, open a terminal and type:
sudo apt-get install gcc make pidgin-dev
then to build type:
to install (default directory is ~/.purple/plugins) type:
make install
You can also create a compressed tar by typing:
make tar

It’s hard for non experts to build the plugin in Windows so the best solution
is to download the binary directly from site.
If you feel brave you have two ways and all of them explained in
where there’s written to setup a build environment like that in
I’ve included the Mingw Makefile that I use to build my plugins for Windows.

Restart Pidgin after installing/copying. Then in Tools/Plugins you should see Google Invisibility Tracker

How to use:

1) Compile or Download the plugin for your arch (see above).


Linux: Copy in your purple home dir:
(if ~/.purple/plugins/ does not exist:
$ mkdir ~/.purple/plugins/ )
$ cp ~/.purple/plugins/

Windows: Move google-invisibility-tracker.dll in Pidgin plugins dir (I suppose you can create C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Applications data\.purple\plugins and move the plugin there too but I’m not sure). In Windows it should be somtething like C:\Programmi\Pidgin\plugins\

3) Restart Pidgin and in Tools/Plugins you should see Google Invisibility Tracker Plugin

Once enabled you’ll be notified every time a buddy of yours goes invisible. Popup, Conversations Message and System Log are disabled by default, this means you have to enable them in configurations.


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02111-1301, USA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *