I use Google Hangouts for most of my phone and online sessions. If you have a phone appointment with me, you will probably never even know that I’m using Google Hangouts for the call, as it won’t seem any different on your end. But, if we are scheduled for an online class or for a video chat, you’ll need to make sure you have Google Hangouts ready to go before our appointment.
If we are connecting for a class or a video chat, my preference is that you connect on your end using a web camera or an app on your phone so that we can have video going both directions, but if that just isn’t possible for you, we can still connect through Google Hangouts on your computer or phone or tablet. You will only be able to see my side of the conversation, however.
Here are some basic instructions from the Help Center at Google and the Zapier Website (where there is also a really complete tutorial on using Google Hangouts for all kinds of applications). You should make sure you understand everything and are good to go with all of it before our meeting time. If you have any trouble, please let me know as soon as you can by calling or texting me at 720-239-2425
1. Get Acquainted with Google Hangout Video Calls
To use Google Hangouts, you’ll first need to have a Gmail, Google Apps for Business or Google Apps for Education account and activate that account’s Google+ profile.
Now it’s time to find where to access Hangouts video calls. If on a computer, you can start a Google Hangouts video call from one of two places: your Gmail inbox or Google+. In Gmail, look for the Hangouts icon in the bottom left corner, and on Google+, look in the upper right corner.
If you haven’t yet conducted a Hangout, you’ll be prompted to download a plugin. So if you’re expecting to do you first Hangout later today, download it now and give it a test run to make sure you’re set.
Note from Google:
Before you start your first video call
- Check the system requirements for Hangouts.
- Make sure you have the latest software for your webcam.
- For the best video quality, put a light source behind your camera so you’re well-lit. Webcams don’t work well in low-light situations.
- Connect a headset. For the best quality audio for your call, we recommend using a headset with a built-in microphone.
- As suggested above, make sure you have the Hangout plugin installed and working on your computer.
For reference, here’s a picture of a Hangout from the Google Help Center:
2. Take a Quick Tour of the Hangouts User Interface
So what does a Google Hangouts video call look like anyway?
(Please visit the Zapier Website for the tour!)
3. Add the Google Hangouts Chrome Extension
If you’re using Chrome—if not, skip this step—download the Google Hangouts extension to make initiating and joining Hangouts more convenient.
The browser add-on makes Hangouts its own app, meaning now longer do you need to go to Gmail or Google+ to start a video call. If you use a Hangouts mobile app, too, it also syncs your history and notifications across devices.
4. I Will Send an Invitation to Join the Hangout
Look for the invitation in your Gmail Email approximately 10 minutes before we are scheduled to start our appointment. If you do not receive this email by the time we are scheduled to start, please call or text me at 720-239-2425 so I can re-send it.
5. Tips & Tricks
On top of what’s been already covered, keep the following in mind when you using Google Hangouts. Hopefully it’ll save you a headache in the future.
Typing Mutes Your Mic
With an aim to improve audio on conference calls, Hangouts automatically mutes your mic when you type.
If You Can’t Hear or See, Check Your Settings
Click on the gear icon on the top tool bar to make sure you’re using the correct camera, microphone and speaker. Even as a heavy Hangouts user, I’ll stumble on this issue myself.