Did you recently buy a Google Home, Home Mini, Home Max or Home Hub? It’s time to set up your brand new smart speaker or smart display. These devices can do a whole lot, from playing music to reading the weather to controlling your smart home devices — and all you need to do to get the attention of Google Assistant is to say “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google.” We break down how to set up your Google Home, so you can get started with all the things this product can do.
1. (In case it’s not obvious) plug it in
To get started, first plug your Google Home device into the wall. There is no power button on the Google Home, so as long as it’s plugged into an outlet, it’s automatically on. Wait a few minutes for it to light up, and it will then begin looking for your phone to set up a connection. Keep your phone on hand, so you’ll know when the two are ready to be synced.
2. Download the Google Home app
Whether you use an iPhone or Android, you can find the Google Home app in the App Store or on Google Play. When prompted, agree to turn on location permissions, as this makes it easier for the device to report accurate local weather, let you know the nearest Walgreens, etc. Be sure your smartphone is connected to your home Wi-Fi, as this is how the Google Home will be able to access your network information.
3. Sign in with Google and sync your device
In order to use a Google Home device, you’ll need a Google account. If you already have a gmail.com email address, that’s perfect — go ahead and enter that. If you don’t already have one, it’s time to get with the program. Head on over to Gmail.com on your laptop or smartphone to create a new account. Using your new Gmail account, sign into the Google Home app, then go to Devices and allow your mobile device to detect the Google Home. The app will then play a test sound on the chosen Google Home unit — simply select “I heard the sound” if you hear it.
If you have a Google Home Hub, click on the compass in the Google Home app to discover your device. When the app indicates that it found your Google Home Hub, select “set up” to connect your Hub. A series of numbers will show up on the screen of both your Home Hub and on your phone, and these numbers should match. Select “yes” to verify that these numbers match and that you’re connecting the right device. After you’ve verified you have the right device, follow the remaining prompts, and perform any updates.
Be sure to set the location of your Google Home device, as you’ll need this for things like local weather reports, traffic conditions, and commute times. In order to provide you with accurate commute times, Google Assistant will need to know the addresses which you call home and work. Under “Personal Info,” you’ll see a section that lets you enter these addresses. When you’re done, you’ll be able to ask Google Assistant “how long is my commute?” while you’re getting ready in the morning, and it will give you a real-time look at what traffic conditions are like on the freeway.
4. Take the tutorial
The Google Home app will prompt you to take a tutorial, which we recommend you do. Going through a tour of the device will give you a sense of the wide array of functions that Google Home devices and Google Assistant offers and how to use them effectively.
5. Add your music accounts
Now to the important stuff — music! With Google Home, you can choose among several different supported music services: Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and Deezer. To get the most out of this function, it’s nice to have a Google Play Music or Spotify premium account, which let you request albums and shuffle to new songs without having to sit through endless ads.
6. Add your video accounts
You can control video content with your Google Home devices too, as long as you have a TV with Chromecast or Chromecast built-in. Google currently has the following voice-supported content partners: Netflix, CW, CBS, HBO, YouTube, Viki, Crackle, Red Bull, Starz, and Google Play Movies and TV.
Some of these services require you to link your account. In the Google Home app, go to settings > services > photos and videos to link your account. If you have a Google Home speaker and a TV with Chromecast, you’ll can voice-control the video content on your TV. If you have a Home Hub, you can watch your content directly on your Home Hub screen.
7. Set up your preferences
To fully personalize your Google Home device, tap the menu button on the left hand side of the app, then tap “Account Preferences.” This will take you to a bunch of optional features that Google Assistant offers, so you can make the device uniquely yours based on what suits your lifestyle. If you go under settings > more settings > assistant, you can change your assistant’s language or add an additional language.
By tapping on News and then Customize, you can select which news sources you’d like the Google Home to pull from when reading you the news. Whether you’re an NPR junkie, NBC News follower, or Fox News fan, you’ll be able to change the sources at your convenience. If you say “OK Google, listen to the news,” your Google Home device will then give you a news report that’s customized to your preferences.
8. Change what Google Assistant calls you
If you scroll down in the app to “Personal Info,” you’ll see a spot that lets you change your nickname, and you can even teach Google Assistant to pronounce it correctly. So whether you want the voice assistant to call you “Ma’am,” “Governor,” or “Mary Poppins,” your wish is your Google Home device’s command.
9. Add compatible smart home products
Google Home devices are compatible with a wide array of smart home products, including Nest thermostats, Philips Hue lightbulbs, and Samsung SmartThings. In the app, tap on Home Control to add a new device. Be sure that these smart home devices are all on the same Wi-Fi network, otherwise you won’t be able to control them from the Google Home. Once all the devices are set up, you’ll be able to say “OK Google, dim the lights,” and your Philips Hue bulbs will adjust themselves to your requested setting. Check out some of the best Google Home-compatible devices here.
10. Start talking to Google
Once your Google Home is all set up, it’s time to start using the little guy. There are thousands of questions you can ask Google. Need some inspiration? Give the upper-left-hand menu button a tap, and select “What can you do?” The app will give you some suggestions. For example, if you need to change the volume of the music, say “OK Google, volume — ” and then say a number between 1 and 11. It’s time to start chatting away with your new voice assistant!