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How to start a Google Hangout

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A Google Hangout is a great collaboration tool that allows up to ten people within your Google network to participate in a video conference. The free video chat service also allows you to upload and edit multiple documents and share your screen with the group in addition to the basic video/audio chat feature.

Jump to:
How to start a Hangout
Chat Feature
Screenshare Feature
File Sharing

How to Configure Google Voice and Video

In order to start a Hangout, you must first have the Google Voice and Video plug-in installed, which you can get here. This is required not only for Hangouts, but for Google Talk (Google Chat) and Gmail as well. If you have not yet installed this plug-in you will be prompted to when first joining or entering a hangout.

Once you click Install Voice and Video Chat, a new dialog window will open asking if you would like to install Google Voice and Video.
Click Ok.

Google Voice and Video Setup screenshot: Click "OK"  on the bottom-rightto download

Once downloaded, double click the icon called Google Voice and Video.pkg.

Google Voice and Video Icon screenshot: Double-click to download

Click Continue and follow the instructions. You may be prompted for an Administrator login. Log in with the appropriate username and password in order to complete installation. Once installed, you will have Google Talk and Hangout capabilities.


How to Start a Hangout

Once signed in to Google, click on your name in the upper left corner of the window. It will have a plus sign in front.

Google screenshot: Click on your name in upper-left corner of the page

This will bring you to your Google+ profile. In the upper right hand of the page (right below your profile image), click on the Start a Hangout button.

Google Hangout screenshot: Click "Start a hangout" icon on the upper right hand of the page

A new window for the Hangout will load, prompting you to invite people to the Hangout. Begin by typing the name of the person(s) you would like to join the chat. It will automatically generate people from your network or contacts, but may also draw from the larger Google+ community. Be sure that you are inviting the intended person.

Start Hangout Page screenshot: Invite people to hangout by typing names into the search bar on the left

Click the name(s) of the people you would like to include in the Hangout. There is also the option to invite an entire group at once. You have the ability to categorize and group your contacts into "Circles." If you would like to invite an entire Circle instead of each person individually, just type in the name of the designated circle and click it.

Once the members are all selected, click the Hangout button. This will enter all of the invitees and yourself into the hangout. Invitees will receive a link through Google Talk. Once clicked, they will be prompted to Join the hangout via a screen like the one below:

Join Hangout screenshot

As long as participants have their camera and mic properly configured, each person in the group chat will have their own live video feed appear as thumbnails.

Don't worry if you've forgotten someone. Once in the Hangout there is always the option to Invite People+, as long as the group does not exceed 10 people.

You also have the option to customize the Hangout name depending on the members or purpose of the group chat. One may use "SAS Website Updates" for the title of a chat focusing on updating and reviewing website content. You may do this by clicking the box at the top of the Hangout and entering an appropriate name. Hit the Enter key and it will automatically save it.

Hangout Name screenshot: Click box at the top and enter name



Chat Feature

Once in the Hangout, you can take advantage of several different features. To open up a chat, click on the Chat button in the left hand corner. A chat feed will open on the right hand of your Hangout window as seen below.

Chat Feature in Hangout screenshot: Chat button in the left, and chat opens on the right



Screenshare Feature

You can also share your screen with the entire group. This means that whatever you are seeing your screen will be shared with the group. Click on the Screenshare button located below Chat on the left side of the page. A new dialog window will appear asking which screen you would like to share with the group. Select the screen and click Start Screenshare.

Screenshare screenshot: Screenshare button on left side of page with a new window that allows user to choose which screen to share

One example of why you might use Screenshare is to have everyone view a media file that they do not normally have access to. Or, you could also use the Screenshare feature to give a tutorial on how to perform a certain computer task. Below is an example of what a Screenshare might look like to the other members of the group chat.

 Screenshare screenshot: How other members would see it

Bear in mind that although your face is not appearing, if your mic is still on the group will be able to hear you.



File Share Feature

Another way to share documents with the group is by using the Googe Drive feature. Click on the Google Drive button below Screenshare in the left hand corner. A dialog box will appear prompting you to locate a file within your Google Drive.

Google Drive screenshot: Button below screenshare in the left-hand corner

If you have not uploaded it already to your Google Drive, you may upload one into the Hangout. Click on the Upload tab in the dialog box and locate the file on your hardrive. You may upload multiple files if needed.

Google Drive Uploads screenshot: Click "Upload" on the bottom-left

Once the file(s) are selected, click Upload. You may need to adjust permissions in order to have everyone view the file and be able to edit it. When finished, click Give Access.

Share Docs screenshot: Click "Give Access" to share your documents

The document will then appear in the main screen of the Hangout. If you've given everyone in the group permission to edit, you can utilize this tool as a collaborative writing/editing process as seen below. The Chat feature in the right-hand column can be useful for review. If for some reason it is not appearing, simply click on the Chat button in the left-hand column and it will display on the right.

Collaborative Editing screenshot: Shows how process is done


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