Google Home isn't just a speaker with built-in Google Search.
With it, you can control your smart home devices, cue up a movie on your TV, replace your desktop speakers, and more. To get the most out of your Goole Home, you really need to do a deep-dive into the Home app or just play around the device for a while. Luckily for you, we've done both, and we've rounded up a selection of the top tips and tricks to help you master the voice-activated speaker in no time.
Google Home Assistant tips and tricks
Google Assistant is Google's iteration of a personal assistant. It's considered an upgrade or an extension of Google Now, as well as an expansion of Google's existing "OK Google" voice controls. It's conversational, too. You can ask a question and follow-up questions, and Assistant will track the conversation, determine context, and audibly respond with the right information.
Google Assistant is a stand-out feature in the Google Home speaker. You can use it to control Google Home, Pixel devices, as well as third-party services and devices. To help you figure out everything Assistant can do, we've rounded up some tips and tricks, which you can find here. However, if you want to learn tips and tricks unique, exclusive or specific to Google Home, read on.
Google Home tips and tricks
Remember to use a wake word
Google Assistant responds to two 'wake words': "Ok Google" and "Hey Google". Unfortunately, you can't change it from these two phrases. Also, you need to say one every single time you wish to engage with Google Home (say the phrase, followed by a question or command).
Adjust settings and preferences
In the Google Home app, slide out the menu drawer from the left side of the screen, and tap on More Settings.
If you want, you can tap your name after selecting More Settings and add your home address for specific weather and traffic reports. Also, from the Personal info menu in settings, you can set a nickname that Assistant will use for you. Under Preferences, you can choose a preferred temperature unit. In the News and My Day sections, you pick various news sources, while with My Day you can select which details are included when you prompt Google Home to tell you about your day. Examples include weather, commute time, reminders, etc.
Another way you can get to settings: Open the hamburger menu (the three lines in the upper corner) and look for the Devices option. You'll see your Google Home listed. From there, open its menu by tapping the three dots in the upper left corner and choose Settings. Everything you need to adjust or change about you're Google Home is there.
Give Google Home a new name
Under settings, go to Name, and from there, you can rename your Google Home whenever and how often you like.
Connect third-party services
Google Home relies on third-party services to provide you with a richer experience. Think of these services as apps that you can access on the speaker. At launch, Google Home’s services were limited to Uber. Now, the full list of services ranges from WebMD to an animal quiz. To find a full list of supported services, open More Settings > Services. From there, tap on the service you want to connect to your Google Home.
Keep in mind Google Home doesn't hold a candle to Amazon Alexa in terms of connected apps - not yet anyway. But it does play well with Pandora, TuneIn, Google Music, Spotify, YouTube, and even Netflix and Uber. You can also use it to control smart home products from Nest, Philips Hue lights, and Smart Things. It also supports Cast, so you can use it in conjunction with Chromecast to send content to your TV.
Use the Google ecosystem
To get the most out of Google Home, use Google’s other products. It's designed to work with products many people frequently use, such as Google Calendar and Google Keep. When combined with Google Home, you can make Assistant a true personal assistant. It can check your schedule, set reminders, add items to your shopping lists, and more -- and all with a simple voice command.
Reset Google Home
To conduct a factory reset and restore your Google to a good-as-new state, hold the microphone button for about 15 seconds. From there, you can link it to a different Google account using the Google Home app. Remember, it doesn't allow you to set up multiple user profiles.
Reboot Google Home
What do you do when some gadget stops working? You restart it, or "reboot" it. So, of course Google included this in the Home app. Just open the Home app and then select Devices > Menu > Reboot. That's it.
Touch your way through things
Aside from your voice, you can control Google Home with your touch. Tap the top of the speaker once to awaken your Google Home or to pause and play a broadcast. You can also slide your finger along the centered circle at the top to change volume.
Mute the mic
If you want to stop Google Home from "always-listening", look for the button on the back of the speaker. It's the only button, and it has a microphone on it. Press it and Home will turn off the microphone (four amber lights will light up on top). Press it again, and it'll tell you the microphone is on. When it's on, Google Home is in the always-listening mode and will listen for and respond to your commands.
You can Google that
Google Home is basically Google.com.
Want to find a grocery store in Sacramento? Need to convert ounces to cups? Curious how old Donald Trump is? Ever wonder what the capital of Florida is? Google Home can be your assistant and set an appointments, but it also doubles as a search engine. Remember, you can also ask follow-up questions. Google Assistant will always remember the topic or subject in your string of questions.
Check your activity
Under More Settings, scroll to the bottom and tap the My Activity option. A website will open with everything Google Home (and Assistant on your phone) has recorded. You can sort by date and time, play back exactly what Home heard, get details, and delete them.
Set up Guest Mode
You can set up a guest mode to let anyone connect to your Google Home once they enter a four-digit PIN provided by the app.
Cast movies or audio to a TV
If you have a Chromecast device, go to More Settings in the Google Home app, tap on TVs and Speakers, and then tap the plus sign in the bottom right corner of the screen. The Google Home app will search for voice-supported TVs on the same Wi-Fi network as your Google Home. From there, you can ask Google Home to play Netflix movies and TV show or even YouTube videos.
You must connect third-party services -- like Netflix -- to your Google account using the Google Home app (Settings > More Settings > Videos and Photos). After doing this, you can simply say things like “Okay Google, play House of Cars from Netflix on TV". You can even also Google Home to pause playback or rewind a minute to something you might've missed.
Cast photos to your TV
Google Home can’t just control Netflix or YouTube on your TV, it can also control Google Photos, Google's free cloud photo storage service. Just link up your account in the Google Home app under settings, and then say “Okay Google, show me photos of my pets on TV”. The service is able to tag and recognise people, things, and places, so it's able to smartly serve up whatever you ask for.
Ditch your desktop speakers
Google Cast is built directly into the Chrome browser. So, when you click the cast button in the corner of Chrome, you can look for your Home device, select it, and then cast audio from your computer to/through Google Home.
Set your music source
Google Home can play music from several sources, such as Play Music, Pandora, Spotify or YouTube Music. To set your default source, head got to More Settings in the Home app, then choose Music (or choose Music from the sidebar), and link an account and select it as the main source
Manage a family shopping list
You can automatically add things to your shopping list, which means it'll be added to a note in the Google Keep app for iOS or Android, just by saying something like: “Okay Google, add coffee to my shopping list”. The list can only be associated with the primary account holder.
You can add collaborators to this list so they can access it though; simply select the three-dots button in the right corner of the list, select “collaborator,” and invite other family members to the list.
All you have to do to hear podcasts is ask. Say “Okay Google, Play This American Life” to hear the most recent episode of the show. If you should pause it, the next time you ask for that podcast, Google Home will pick up where you left off.
Find your misplaced phone
Can't find your home? Google Home can locate the device -- if you link it with a service called IFTTT. Use this recipe (requires an IFTTT account) so that you can automatically call your number when you say “Okay Google, find my phone.”
Turn off the lights
Google Home can control internet-connected appliances around your home, such as lightbulbs like Philips Hue. You can not only turn those on and off, but also say things like “Okay Google, turn the living room purple" to change their colour. But Google Home is a voice-controlled hub for all your smart devices. You can also leverage IFTTT recipes to get the most out of Home and your devices, but that's not required.
Set an alarm
This might seem obvious but... Google Home can replace your alarm clock. Say “OK Google, set an alarm for 5 minutes” or whenever, and you'll hear a nice tune and see a circle of lights on the top of Google Home when the alarm goes off.
Hear about your day
You can ask Google Home “tell me about my day” to get an audio report of your calendar, your morning traffic commute, the weather, and any reminders. You can also customise your report to exclude certain things, such as the weather. At the end, you'll get a news briefing. But first, to do any of this, you’ll must connect services like your Google Calendar using settings in the Google Home app.
Google Home Easter eggs
Looking for some fun things to do with Google Home? While these are technically Google Assistant easter eggs, you'll find that they really give your Google Home some personality:
- Say "I'm feeling lucky" to start up a multiplayer game show.
- Say "Give me a random number between (x) and (y)" to hear a random number between the two - with beeping sounds to boot.
- Ask it to "Roll (insert number)-sided dice": It'll give you a random number, complete with sound effects.
- Say "(Contact name) is my (relationship)" to ask Assistant to associate certain relationship information with a contact for future reference.
- Say "Good morning" to hear a rundown of your day's agenda, along with the current weather and news.
- Say "Send a message to (Contact name) on (messaging service like WhatsApp)" to dictate a message to a contact.
- Say "Wubba lubba dub dub" to get Assistant to respond with: "Are you in pain? How can I help?" or "Sorry, I don't speak Birdperson" (a reference to the show Rick and Morty).
- Say "Beatbox" to hear a clip of someone beat-boxing.
- Say "sing a song" to hear a horrible, brief song.
- Say "Read a poem" to hear a random poem from Google search.
- Say "Tell me a joke" to hear an age-appropriate joke from Pixar.
- Say "F*** you" to submit a bug report.