- Chill with friends that are scrolling through the web, just like you!
- Use live video chat that puts you in the same room together!
- Coordinate plans, whether it’s working on a project or meeting up for coffee.
- Maybe you’re bored. Start a hangout, invite your circles, see who’s around!
Getting started with Hangouts
Before you hang out for the first time, there are a few things you’ll want to do:
- Check out the system requirements to make sure you’re using a supported browser and operating system, and that your processor and bandwidth are sufficient.
- Download and install the latest version of the plugin.
- Make sure you have the latest drivers for your webcam.
- Webcams don’t work well in low light situations. For the best quality webcast, make sure you’re well lit from a light source that’s coming from behind your camera.
- Use a head set! Headphones with a built in microphone will dramatically improve your Hangout experience.
- If a hangout isn’t performing well, try closing down all programs running in the background. You may also want to try restarting your computer.
Start a hangout
You can start a hangout from the stream whenever you want. You can either go to plus.google.com/hangouts or simply click the blue Start a Hangout button on the side of your stream.
You’ll be taken to a “green room” where we’ll help you get your camera set up and choose additional circles or individuals to add. No one can see you while you’re in the green room. Once you click the green Hang Out button your video feed will be broadcast.
Join a hangout
There are plenty of ways to find out who’s hanging out. And, joining a hangout that’s already going on is easy.
- You can check out your stream or the green room to find out if people in your circles are hanging out. If you see a group of people that you’d like to hang out with just click the Join this Hangout button.
- Your friends may also send you the URL to a hangout in which case you can copy and paste the URL into your browser or simply click the URL link.
- Since no one likes hanging out alone, it’s likely that when someone starts a hangout, they may select a group to notify. If you are in this group, you’ll get notified at the top of the page. If you’ve been individually added to the hangout and you can chat with the person, you’ll get a chat notification. (To avoid unwanted notifications, we don’t notify circles with a large number of members).
When you enter a hangout, you’ll see the current participants, broken down according to who is in your circles and who isn’t. This way you don’t have to hang out with anyone you don’t like, or don’t know.
If no one is hanging out right now, you can start your own and invite people to join you!
nvite people to a hangout
No one owns a hangout. That means that anyone in the hangout can invite anyone else. So while your hangout could start with a group of people that you know, it could evolve into a completely different crowd. For instance, let’s say your brother decides to post the hangout URL on his blog. Anyone could follow that link, join Google+, and enter the hangout.
You can invite circles or specific people to join you in a hangout when it’s first created.
- Click Start a Hangout from the stream.
- Add the circles or people you want to alert that you’re hanging out.
- Click Hang out to start the hangout and send the notifications to the people you chose.
You can also invite additional people to a hangout after it’s already begun. Click Invite at the bottom of the hangout window, add the circles or people you want to share with, and click Invite.
Visibility of your hangout
There are a few different ways people can discover that you’re hanging out:
- If you invite people to join a hangout, a post will appear in their stream telling them that there’s a hangout going on, along with all the people in that hangout currently.
- If 25 or fewer people are invited, they’ll receive a notification that they’ve been invited to join a hangout.
- If you invite individuals that are signed in to chat, they’ll receive an IM with a link to join.
- If someone invited to a hangout tries to start their own, they’ll be told that there’s a hangout already going on and they may want to join that one instead.
- Since the hangout you’re in is visible by the circles of the other hangout participants, people you don’t know may learn that you’re hanging out.
Watch a YouTube video in a hangout
Everyone can watch YouTube videos together in a hangout. Just click the YouTube button. Then search for and select a video that you want to watch as a group. Anyone in the hangout can play, pause, or change a video.
To cut down on echos, everyone is muted by default while the YouTube player is open. You can click the Push to Talk button underneath the video to talk.
The volume control of the YouTube player is specific to each person. That means you can set what volumes you are comfortable with without affecting other people in the hangout.
If you mute the YouTube video, the Push to Talk button will disappear and your mic will be activated.
If you unmute your mic, the You Tube video will be muted.
Who can enter a hangout
Hangouts are created by one person, but everyone in the hangout shares the ability to invite others.
Each hangout has a specific URL. That URL can be shared as a link to invite others. However, only Google+ users are able to join.
Be thoughtful when inviting as you can’t kick anyone out of a hangout. If you feel uncomfortable in a hangout you can leave at any time.
Group text chat in Hangouts
Are the neighbors yelling because you’re making too much noise? You don’t have to know sign language to communicate silently! While you’re in a hangout, you can click the Chat button to chat with hangout participants all at once.
To close the chat window, click the Chat button again, click the X, or hit Esc on your keyboard.
You can access your Hangout settings at any time during a hangout by clicking Settings at the bottom of the hangout window.
The settings page helps confirm that your computer is set up and ready to use. It can also help you troubleshoot problems, such as when your microphone or video isn’t working. The settings you choose will be applied to all future Hangout sessions.
Muting microphones in a hangout
Don’t want people to hear you for a moment? Click Mute Mic at the bottom of the hangout window to mute your microphone.
Did someone just join and interrupt the conversation? Feel free to hover over their video thumbnail, click the red microphone button, and confirm you want to mute them. Everyone will be notified that you’ve muted them by a little notification bar that drops down from the top. Of course, whoever you mute can unmute themselves by clicking their microphone in the hangout tool bar.
Mute your video in a hangout
If you really have to sneeze and don’t want everyone to see that funny face you make, mute your video!
To mute your video, click Mute Video. (A black screen will appear instead of your video stream.)
Specs and limits of Hangouts
There are a few specifications and limitations of Hangouts that you should be aware of:
- Maximum 10 participants.
- There’s a 90 minute check-in to make sure you’re still there.
- Can’t use Hangouts on a mobile device.
System requirements for Hangouts
The following are the system requirements for Hangouts:
- Google Chrome 10+ Download
- Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 8+ Download
- Mozilla Firefox 3+ Download
- Safari 4+Download
Supported Operating systems:
- Mac OS X 10.5+
- Windows 7
- Windows Vista
- Windows XP
- Ubuntu and other Debian based Linux distributions
Processor Minimum Requirements:
- Any 2 Ghz dual core processor or greater.
- For 1:1 connections we suggest a 900kbps (up/down)
- For group video connectivity we suggest 900kbps/1800kbps (up/down)
Troubleshooting audio/video issues in Hangouts
If you are experiencing audio or video issues while in a hangout please follow these troubleshooting steps to help resolve the issue:
- Make sure that your webcam and microphone are plugged in.
- Exit and rejoin the hangout.
- Verify your settings to make sure the plug-in is using the correct webcam and microphone. If your microphone or webcam shows up as “USB video/audio device”, try installing a specific driver.
- Ensure that neither your microphone or webcam are being used by another application.
- Restart your computer.
The plug-in won’t install
If you’re having trouble installing the plug-in, or are receiving a message asking you to reinstall it, you should check to make sure your configuration is right. To do so simply:
- Type about:plugins in your Chrome browser and check to make sure the Apps Enhancements Plugin and O3D Plugin are enabled. If you are using another browser you should check to make sure that those plug-ins are enabled.
- Make sure you’re not using Internet Explorer 64-bit or Safari 64-bit (these are browser versions that are 64 bit as opposed to 32 bit).
- Ensure that you don’t have any “click to run” extensions enabled.
If you’re still experiencing this issue after checking your configuration you can follow these steps:
- Refresh the browser page.
- Close any running Google Talk plug-in processes.
- Close all open and running browser processes.
- Restart your computer.
- Reinstall the plug-in.
Reporting technical issues with a hangout
If you’re experiencing poor audio (echos, out of sync with video) or poor video (choppy frames, blurry image) you can report those issues directly within the hangout you’re experiencing them in. Doing so helps us improve the service quality of this feature and we appreciate your reports.
To report connection, audio or video issues:
- Click Issues at the top of the Hangout.
- Select the types of connection, audio or video issues you’re experiencing. You can report multiple granular issues you may be experiencing at once.
- Click Submit.
This will submit a log file from the Google Talk plugin.