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How to mute Google Home's microphones (and why you need to)

I love being able to yell across the room to tell my Google Home to fast forward a song or play the news. But whenever I try to use Google Assistant on my Pixel within earshot of the always-on speaker, the Home almost always intercepts, even if I need something only the Pixel can do, like search my contacts or set a reminder — which Google Home still can't do. Sometimes we need to stop Google Home from butting in, and thankfully, it's really easy to do.

And you don't even have to get off the couch to do it.

Push the button.

"OK Google, Turn off the microphone." This will turn off the mic without touching your Google Home, but this is a one-way control, as once the mic's off, it can't be heard to turn itself back on. That's why we have buttons.

On the back of your Google Home, there is a single button featuring a mic icon with a slash through it. This is the mute microphone button. Press it once and your Google Home will announce "Microphone off," muting its microphones and allowing you to use Assistant on your Pixel — or anything else you need without a sentient being harmless assistant listening.

If it starts telling you it's about to reset itself, release the button before it reaches the end of the glowing countdown.

While your mic is muted, you'll be able to easily Home isn't listening. Google lights up the four cardinal points of the Google Home's top-mounted display in a warm warning orange.

When you're ready to let Google hear you again, press the mute button once more. The orange lights will disappear, and your Google Home will cheerfully tell you "Microphone on."

Why?!! WHYY!!!!?!?!??

We shouldn't have to do this…

That the mute button is so necessary is a travesty. Sure, the ability to turn the mic off when you don't want Google and goodness-knows-who listening is fine, but to have to mute the Google Home mic because you want to text a reply using your voice while Mountain View's air freshener is in the room is ridiculous. 'OK Google' is recognizable on six devices at different points in the room and can even distinguish which device hears you best, but even if you're talking directly into your phone ten feet from a Google Home, it'll try to respond instead. That's some great listening abilities, but it's not always useful.

We hope that this behavior changes, but right now, we can only hope. In the meantime, we'll be ready to mute our Homes so that we can get what we need to done without Google Home butting its nose in every time we Google a Chinese takeout place to call.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

26 Comments
  • You can use your voice to mute the microphone, but then you still have to press the button to disable the mute.
  • I was headed to the comments to say that you can turn it off with voice just not back on.
  • Why can't we have, "Okay, Google. Mute the microphone for thirty minutes"?
  • That'd be really useful. Article has been updated. Thanks!
  • "Hey Google, turn off your microphone", if I remember, works.
  • Added! Thanks!
  • Ara -- I say "Hey Google, Turn the microphone off" and it will mute itself. You have to get up to turn it back on but not for the mute :).
  • Added, thanks! I forget the voice cue completely, maybe because I want the satisfaction of pushing a button.
  • I just hold the home button on my Pixel to activate the assistant and then speak. Most likely if I need something from my phone I'm holding it. Otherwise I just speak to the home and my pixel says"listening on another device". IMO this is a way better solution then turning your mic off then having to remember to physically turn it back on. That doesn't make much sense
  • Setting Reminders now work. I've completed the action several times now.
  • It does? Hallelujah!
  • I just tried and got "I'm sorry, I can't set reminders yet"
  • I've seen so many people claim that setting reminders works. This is false! That action does NOT work.
  • It works for me. Maybe ill record it and upload for your approval.
  • Does "Rewind" on Google Play Music work for anyone else? I discovered it working about a week ago. Point being new commands are added all the time, and usually without telling everyone... And they might roll out to some before others, because my Google Home just told me "Sorry, I can't set reminders yet" I believe you have it, though. Lucky you.
  • Rewind, eh? I didn't realize they use tapes at Google Play Music.
  • You know. if we could have custom wake up commands it would fix all of this. My phone could be "Hey Google" and the Home could be "Computer"
  • It should know not to default answer for questions and features that it can not perform. Especially annoying when trying to call someone on the phone.
  • Has anyone else gotten used to saying "Hey Google" to prevent the conflict with the "Okay Google" on their phone?
  • That's what I do, when I use my phone, I use "okay Google" - as long as I'm not in earshot of my Home of course. When I need my Home and not the phone, I'll use "hey Google". It's not an elegant weapon, but it's a slight improvement from the confusion at least one way.
  • I have but creepy ass Google on my phone and tablet will randomly wake to that phrase too. Self driving cars, Boston Dynamics, Assistant. "Google" is a six letter word for Skynet (oh wait that's six letters too....EEEEK)
  • Why do we need these weird listening devices in the first place?
  • We don't. Just like you don't "need" keyless entry and power windows but I'm sure you enjoy the convenience.
  • Not an issue here. My S7E is still a slave to Google Now which is way "dumber" than Assistant. But yah, do I wish I could set reminders and calendar events. Reminders especially (I tend to "craft" my events on the desktop using Google Calendar). Trying to be patient with Google on this but the roll out of new features and capabilities seems very slow to me. I wish we at least had an list of upcoming features (like my MMORPG offers).
  • "Hey Google, stop listening." also works.
  • This doesn't seem to work anymore. It says it can't do it and to press the button instead.