Google Home: Top 10 Tips & Tricks

Google Home
Google Home

Using Google Home is fun. That's not unique to just Google Home — telling any computer, no matter what size or shape, to do stuff by talking is fun. And the more you talk to your Google Home the more things you'll find out about what it does and what it doesn't do.

Here are some of the cool things you can do with Google Home once you get it home!

1. Set up IFTTT

Home automation and the world of tomorrow will be really cool when everything finally works with everything else, but in the meantime, there's IFTTT.

The IFTTT service takes the things you say to your Google Home and sends commands to the other smart things you have, even if the two don't talk the same language out of the box. Setting things up is easier than you think, and the list of smart devices supported by IFTTT is huge.

When I wake up in the morning, saying hello to Google Home has my Hue lamps (Hue applet) glowing a nice soft yellow, music playing through my stereo (Harmony applet) and a pot of coffee brewed, hot and ready (WeMo applet) when I step out of the shower. All because of IFTTT and Google Home. Your smart stuff can be just as cool if you set it up.

2. Find the settings

The settings for your Google Home are kind of hidden in the Google Home app. To find them, open the hamburger menu (the three lines in the upper left corner) and look for Devices in the list. You'll see your Google Home there. Open its menu by tapping the three dots in the upper left corner and choose Settings.

Everything you need to get the most from your Google Home is in there!

3. Set up Guest Mode and Multi-user support

Your Google Home is a Chromecast Audio target, too. You can tell it to play a song and it will play through its own speaker if you didn't tell it to play the music on another cast ready device.

Setting up guest mode lets anyone connect to your Google Home once they enter a four-digit PIN provided by the app. Do it while you're poking around in the settings.

Multi-user support is also now available on Google Home, allowing it to easily differentiate between the people in your house who want to use this awesome accessory. Each person will need to teach Google Home their voice, but once you've done that you'll be good to go!

4. Give it a new name

In the settings, you'll see an entry for Name. It's exactly what you think it is and you can rename your Google Home any time you like.

You can have fun with it, but if you have more than one it's pretty handy for the name to describe where it sits like "Living Room" but you can name it whatever you like. Remember that anyone you give guest mode access to can see the name — even your mom.

5. Set up your preferences

We're still in the settings here, and we're looking at what's in the More listing.

Here's where you tell Google Home things like which music service to use when you want to play a song or two and which news sources to use when you want to know what goes on in the outside world. It's also where you set your address and tell Home what to call you.

Look through them all to make sure Home does things the way you want it to.

6. Check your activity

One last thing in the More settings — scroll to the bottom and tap the My activity entry.

A web page will open with everything Google Home (and Assistant on your phone if you have a Pixel) has recorded, sorted by date and time. You can go through the list and play back exactly what Home heard, get the details about the recording or delete them.

As mentioned at the top of the page, only you have access to these records. But remember, Google "heard" what you said when Home tried to interpret it even if they can't see the handy list.

7. Give your Chromecasts an easy name

You change the name of a Google Chromecast-ready device the same way you changed the name of Google Home. Now that you're talking to send movies or music to them, make sure you give them a name that's easy to remember and recognize.

Like Google Home itself, anyone with guest mode access will see this name so keep that in mind.

8. Play a movie

Settings can be boring so let's close them.

Tell Google to play a movie from your chosen source or a video from YouTube on your cast ready TV, or tell it to play a song, playlist or genre from your music source on a cast ready device.

You can adjust the volume with your voice (say volume up or set volume to 50%) and tell it to stop playing when you're ready to turn things off.

If you don't have another Google cast device, you can always play music on your Google Home itself. It has a half decent speaker inside and can get plenty loud.

9. Mute the mic

Sometimes you might not want Google Home to be listening. It doesn't care that you sing along to 80s music or about those sexy time sounds you make, but you might not want it to even be an option.

There's a button on the back of Google Home — it's the only button and it has a microphone on it — that toggles the mic. Press it and Home will tell you Microphone off and present four amber lights up top. Press it again and it tells you Microphone on and goes back to always listening mode.

10. Get your agenda

Google Home makes a pretty good assistant, too.

Ask Google to Tell me about my day and it digs through your data and uses the internet (and your settings) to tell you the time after a friendly greeting, give you your appointments for the day, tell you about any traffic issues if it thinks you might be driving to one of them, the weather and reads news from the sources you defined in step five above.

There's plenty more things you can have Google Home do and say. Be sure to talk about what you're doing with it in the comments!

Updated July 2017: This article was last updated to correct outdated information and to offer the best tips possible.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

24 Comments
  • The Showstopper for me is the Single User only.. Until it can do voice recognition, and auto switch to a second account.. I will wait.
    But single people should go for it!
  • Actually my wife gets a kick out of being able to add something to my shopping list in Google Keep. I was afraid that if she used it to play her kind of music, then Google Play Music would think I like that and start recommending more like it, but I haven't seen that to be a problem yet. About the only thing it can give back at the moment that is personal is my calendar entries for the day if she asked it "how does my day look". That may change down the road if they add stuff like read back your email or something more integrated like that. Right now it's not a problem really.
  • The Single user aspect has not been an issue for us. But we have the Google Homes going into the our bedroom and the kids bedrooms. So each kid will just log into their account. The Echo is in the kitchen and will remain for ordering stuff at Amazon. That does leave me and my wife sharing a unit which has not been that big of an issue. But will see as wife is only starting to actually use the Google Home on our bedroom more lately. Never was a very big Echo user. Think the other day when she said "hey google play SNL highlights on the TV" and the TV turned itself on, input set and SNL highlights from YouTube started playing went a long way towards her being a regular user. But the Google Photos integration is what I suspect she will use often. She is really into photography and she uses Google Photos with her iPhone and seeing the pics on a 4k TV is pretty impressive. Now being able to control with voice is slick.
  • " Until it can do voice recognition, " Think about it. How accurate are YOU in recognizing different voices? Sure, you can probably recognize a hand full of different voices, but you're probably only about 75% accurate with that.
  • True , but to do this correctly . It just needs to tell the DIFFERENCE between the Users voice. So during setup of each account, a sound pattern is assigned to each account...
  • "Tell me about my day" You can also say Good Morning and she will perform the same actions
  • When will this work for Google App users? (Currently, I cannot get my agenda or reminders since I have a Google App account). :-(
  • You can also tell it to mute the microphone, still requires you to push the button to turn it back on though.
  • Well, yeah. If the mic is muted, then it obviously won't hear your command to unmute it. If it did unmute it, then it wouldn't have been muted in the first place. That should be common sense.
  • I've had to rename all my devices into short one word syllables.
    My favorite feature is turning on the tv (for a youtube video) by voice
  • So it will turn on the TV? How new is your television? That is one of the things that really bugs me about the Roku. If I put a disc in my Blu Ray player, it turns on the TV and changes the input automatically then just starts the movie. I wish pressing the home button on my Roku remote would do the same thing. If I could just tell Google Home to "play Stranger Things on Netflix" and have it turn on the TV and launch Netflix from my Roku that would be amaze-balls.
  • In my day, we had to get up off our butts, walk over to the TV and turn a dial ourselves! And we had to walk uphill both ways to school. Barefoot!
  • LMAO. Touche. Meh, I go to the gym every day at lunch. I want a voice activated TV at the end of my day dammit.
  • In the snow!
  • I've got a 2014 75" samsung. It will only turn on the tv and play Youtube videos right now. Will be nice when it can do more.
  • Well that is a start. Thanks!
  • I have a Nvidia shield and a Samsung TV (purchased in 2013). Home will send command to shield which turns on the TV. chromecast would do the same thing before i bought the shield. I'm not a TV guru, but i think diff HDMI ports make a difference.
  • I'll give it a try soon. Ordered my Google Home tonight. Will be here on Friday. FYI employees at both Target and Best Buy in my area said they cannot keep Google Home's on the shelf. You are limited to a quantity of only one when ordering online from Best Buy. I will be very interested to see if Google releases sales number for the Pixels and Google Home.
  • Love my OnHub (thanks again for the recommendation Jerry). Now it looks like I just need a Google Home to hook up to it. That Amazon link is bogus by the way.
  • How can I hookup and use a flash card to the micro USB port on my note 4
  • My note4 keeps saying error can't play video. Video plays on pornhub but not on utube or facebook.Also there I'd no sound at all.
  • You can also say something like "Hey Google, stop listening." to mute it as well. Obviously, you then have to press the mic button to unmute but can be handy when you don't want it to listen and aren't right next to it.
  • What's with the 7 month old comments?
    Tips and tricks? This is just basic stuff.
    How about just an article for IFTTT? It's the only way to get the thing to do anything useful.
    The shopping list going to Keep was very useful. They changed it to require mobile data to view and edit the list at the store.
    Now it's useless for me because I'll never buy mobile data when I have to pay up the @$$ for internet at home.
  • This was an updated article