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How to use Google Hangouts



  Woman Using Hangouts Video Calls

Now that millions of people around the world are practicing social distancing thanks to the current coronavirus pandemic, digital contact is more important than ever. This includes facilitating video meetings with your colleagues while working remotely or just checking in with your friends and family. If you are looking for a robust tool for any of these uses, consider Google Hangouts.

Related: Top 10 Remote Work Tips: Stay Productive While Working From Home

Google Hangouts is a free chat, audio, and video call service. Using it is relatively easy. All you need to get started is a Google Account. But before we talk about using Google Hangouts, let's talk about what it is exactly.

What is Google Hangouts?

Hangouts originally began as a feature on Google+ long before the early demise of the social network. Google eventually launched a standalone Hangouts app in May 2013. Since then, the app has gained (and lost) some features. Unfortunately, the Hangouts brand has been divided into a somewhat confusing set of communication tools. This includes Chat, Meet and Dialer.

Classic Google Hangouts lets users communicate either one-on-one or in groups of up to 150 people. They can also video chat with other individuals or in groups of up to 10. On the other hand, companies from Google Accounts can use video chat in groups of up to 25 people.

Related: 10 Best Alternatives to FaceTime on Android!

The other apps in the Hangouts ecosystem are for Google Voice subscribers and G Suite users. If you have a voice account, Hangouts users can call anyone around the world for free with the Dialer app.

If you have a G Suite account, you can also use Hangouts Chat and Meet. Chat offers a similar experience as Slack with Google's built-in search features and Google Docs, Slides and Sheets integration. Meet assigns similar video chat features to classic Hangouts but with a more robust feature set. This includes support for video and audio meetings with up to 250 users and integration of Google Calendar for meeting details and scheduling.

Eventually, Google will likely retire classic Hangouts and move free users over to Meet and Chat without the need for G Suite accounts. Until then, the Hangouts app is available to everyone. It is also available online and has a Google Chrome extension.

How to use the Google Hangouts app

Perhaps the best and easiest way to use Hangouts is with the app. It's available on Android and iOS, and you don't have to worry about peripherals because your smartphone includes a built-in camera and microphone.

To get started, you need to download the Google Hangouts app. From there, you'll need to sign in to the Google Account you choose. There is no need to set up a Hangouts profile because it uses the information you have already entered from your Gmail account.

Also Read: 10 Best VoIP and SIP Apps for Android!

Once you have logged in with your account, you can now start messaging and video chat.

How to start a new conversation or video call

  • Press green and white "+" button at the bottom right of the app and select either New call or New Video Call .
  • You can then enter the name, email address, or phone number of an existing Hangouts user to start a text-based conversation or video call.
    • If you start a new conversation with someone who does not use Hangouts other than by entering their email address or phone number, it will send them an invitation to use the service.
  • If you want to notify several people at once, you can create groups by selecting [1 9459007] New group below the contact entry field and adding up to 150 people.
  • To chat with multiple people at once, add only nine contacts to the mailbox when starting a video call.
    • If you have a business account, you can video chat with up to 24 other people.
  • You can add more people to groups at any time by selecting three vertical dots at the top right of the UI from the group and tapping People .
  • You can also invite more people to an ongoing video chat by pressing three vertical dots at the top right of the video call and selecting Invite .
    • There is an option to share a link to an ongoing video call. If you share that link with someone and they click on it, they can join the video call just by signing in with their Gmail account.

After starting an individual or group call, you can retrieve where you are turned off by selecting the conversation from the app's home page.


How to use Hangouts in your browser

  Google Hangouts online

If you prefer to use Hangouts in your browser, it's pretty easy. First, you need to have a microphone and webcam set up for video chat. Most laptops have both of these built-in. If your laptop does not, or if you use a desk, you need to set up some external peripherals.

Related: The 6 Best Webcams You Can Buy

When you do, navigate to hangouts. google.com in your computer browser. You will need to sign in with your desired Google Account if you are not already. Once you are there it is quite easy to start text and video calls.

How to start a new conversation or video call

  • Touch The message or Video call icon in the center of the screen.
  • You can then enter the name, email address, or phone number of an existing Hangouts user to start a text-based conversation or video call.
    • If you enter the email address or phone number of someone who is not using Hangouts yet, it will send an invitation to use the service.
  • If you want to notify several people at once, you can create groups by selecting New group below the contact entry field and adding up to 150 people.
  • To chat with multiple people at once, add only nine contacts to the input field when starting a video call.
    • If you have a business account, you can video chat with up to 24 other people.
  • You can add more people to groups at any time by selecting the person icon at the top left of the conversation window.
  • You can also invite more people to an ongoing video chat by touching the icon of a person with a "+" next to it at the top right of the UI.
    • There is an option to share a link to an ongoing video call. If you share that link with someone and click on it, they can join the video call by just signing in with their Gmail account.

Also note that your data is continuously synchronized between the app and the website. This means that you can set up a group video call in your browser and access it at any time from your mobile phone.


How to use the Chrome extension

  Google Hangouts Google Chrome extension

Finally, there is the Chrome extension. Just like the website, you need a microphone and webcam if you want to video call. You'll also need to use Google Chrome or another Chromium-based browser such as the new Microsoft Edge.

Then, go to the selected browser you selected on the Google Hangouts navigation page. When you add the extension to your browser, you have a new Google Hangouts icon in the browser toolbar. Click that icon to open the Hangouts Extensions popup.

Also read: Google will finally announce the Chrome app's deadline

If you are already signed in to your Google Account in your browser, the extension will sign in to your Hangouts account automatically. If you're not signed in, Hangouts encourages you to do so. When you're done logging in, a whole new conversation or video call is pretty similar to the previous methods, with some minor differences.

How to start a new conversation or video call

  • Tap New conversation at the top left of the window.
  • You can then enter the name, email address, or phone number of an existing Hangouts user to start a text-based conversation.
    • If you enter the email address or phone number of someone who is not yet using Hangouts, it will send an invitation to use the service.
  • If you want to notify several people at once, you can create groups by selecting New group below the contact entry field and adding up to 150 people.
  • For video chat, you must start a conversation first and then click the video camera icon at the top right of the conversation window.
  • You can also invite more people to an ongoing video chat using the t apping icon for a person with a "+" next to it at the top right of the UI.
    • You can invite up to nine other people into a video call under a regular Google Account and 24 other people under a business account.
    • There is also an option to share a link to an ongoing video call. If you share the link with someone and click on it, they can join the video call by just logging in with their Gmail account.

Like the website and the app, your conversations are continuously synced over your account.

Download Google Hangouts Chrome Extension


There you go! Now you know how to use Google Hangouts. Go to video meetings, check out family members or connect with friends, no matter where they are in the world!


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