The Beginner’s Guide to Google Hangouts

New to Google Hangouts? Never fear, we’re here to explain everything to you so you can start connecting with people in no time.

What is Google Hangouts?

Google Hangouts is an excellent part of G Suite and is available to anyone with a Gmail account. Google Hangouts allows you to keep in touch with one person or a group of people no matter where you are. If you have a webcam, or a camera built-into your device, Google Hangouts is a great tool for you because it allows you to connect with other people through video, typically referred to as video conferencing. Google Hangouts also allows you to instant message one person or a group. If you’ve ever opened your Gmail account, you may have even noticed the chat on the bottom left—that’s how you can use Google Hangouts integrated through your Gmail to send instant messages to other Hangouts users. Enter someone’s name or email to send them an instant message, or create a group message.

Getting Started

To easily access hangouts, go to If you’re not already signed in when you arrive, you’ll be asked to sign into your Google account. If you’ve used Hangouts before, you’ll see some of your previous messages on the left side. Further to the left, you’ll see some icons to navigate hangouts.

Hamburger Menu for Google Hangouts More Icon in Google Hangouts  These icons will open the Hangouts menu. This menu is where you can navigate to Contacts, Conversations, Phone Calls, Invites, and other settings.

Contacts Icon in Google Hangouts  This icon will show you your contacts. You can search and add new contacts here.

Conversation Icon in Google Hangouts Message Button in Google Hangouts  These icons show you your conversations. You can view past conversations and create a new conversation here.

Phone Calls Icon in Google Hangouts Phone Call Button in Google Hangouts These icons show you your phone calls. You can view past phone calls and create a new phone call here.

Video Call Button in Google Hangouts This icon will allow you to create or join a video call.

Your First Google Hangout

Click the video call icon mentioned above. You will be taken to a schedule of your meetings for the day. If you don’t have any meetings scheduled, nothing will show in this list.

Google Hangouts Meeting Schedule

Go ahead and click “Join or start a meeting.” You’ll immediately be met with a pop-up window asking you to invite people to the Hangout, but for the sake of this tutorial click “Continue.” Please note, you may see a pop-up window immediately appear within your Chrome browser asking that you give the app your permission to access the camera and microphone. Make sure to choose ALLOW so you can be seen and heard on video calls.

You will be taken to the lobby of the meeting. Click “Join Now.”

Google Hangouts Meeting Lobby

You are now in a Google Hangouts video call! Inside the call at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see three icons. From left to right, you’ll first see the microphone button. Clicking this will mute your microphone so that no one can hear you. This is great to hide your coughs or any background noises. The red button in the middle is the end call button. Lastly, on the right is the camera button, which is where you can turn your camera on and off.

Google Hangouts Microphone, Camera, and End Call Icons

Now look at the the upper right corner. From left to right you’ll first see the people icon. This will show you who all is in the call and allow you to invite new people. Next you’ll see the chat icon, where you can message everyone that is in the call with you. Lastly, this is a preview of what you look like to others in the call.

People, Chat, and Preview in Google Hangouts

Lastly, let’s review the icons in the bottom right corner. You can turn on captions or share your screen with the respective buttons. Clicking the three vertical dots opens a menu with even more options for the call. You can record a meeting, change the layout, view the Hangout full screen, turn on captions, edit settings, call in with a phone, and more.

Turn on Captions, Present Now, and More Icons in Google Hangouts

Now we’re ready to invite some people. Click the people icon again and then click “Invite People.” Here, you’ll either enter the email addresses, or the names of people that you’ve stored in your Google contacts. Once they show up in your type-ahead assist box, click their name or email address that shows. This will add them to your invite list. If you’d like to invite multiple people to the hangout, continue to type names or email addresses into the type-ahead assist box. Once you’ve selected at LEAST one person, click invite. Those you’ve invited will receive an invite on their end and can join the Hangout with you. Then boom, you’re all in a Google Hangout video call!

Congrats! You just learned the basics of Google Hangouts. Next, learn some quick and helpful Hangouts etiquette tips.


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