Google Home Ultimate Guide: 35 Tips, Tricks and More
A Google Home smart speaker can make an excellent addition to any home. You probably already have a few favorite features, such as for playing music or checking the weather. But, you may find yourself wondering “Am I really getting the most out of my Google Home? What else can this thing do?” The following guide is intended to help you realize your smart speaker’s full potential.
How do I take my Google Home to the next level? There are a number of useful commands, settings adjustments, and additional products that can make your Google Home more useful, more fun, more stylish, and more seamlessly integrated into your life.
The following 35 tips will explore these methods of making the most out of your Google Home.
1. Make Hands-Free Phone Calls
Ok Google, call me a cab.
Google can call businesses or your contacts. Just tell it who to call and you’ll be able to talk hands-free.
Also, you’ll need to stay in the same room while you’re on the call because unlike your usual phone, Google Home can’t move room to room. That being said, this can be an easy way to have a chat while working in the kitchen or to check something off your to-do list without grabbing your phone.
2. Remember Passwords and Combinations
Ok Google, the combination to my bike lock is 12345.
Have Google remember passwords, combinations, or really anything. Later, when you ask Google about it, your assistant will repeat everything you’ve told it to remember about that particular subject.
You can also retrieve this information on the go through the Google Assistant on your smart device. Obviously, this might be useful if you’re trying to remember something like the combination for your bike lock. You can have Google forget this information at any time.
Use this same feature to remember where you placed important items, like keys or passports.
3. Find Your Lost Phone
Ok Google, find my phone.
Lost your phone between the couch cushions? If you ask Google to locate your device, your assistant will make your phone ring on full volume, even if it’s set to vibrate, silent, or Do not disturb mode.
As long as your device is turned on and connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data, you and your phone will be reunited in no time.
4. Broadcast Messages Throughout Your Home
Ok Google broadcast “It’s dinner time!”
If you’ve got multiple Google Home speakers set up in your home, you can send audible messages to all of the speakers at the same time. It’s almost like a digital PA system. There are a number of messages that have pre-set recordings along with fun sound effects.
These include the following:
- Breakfast time
- Wake Up
- Dinner time
- Time to go
- Arrived home
- On the way
- Movie time
- TV time
You can find a more detailed table of commands here.
If you need to broadcast a message other than something from this list, you can send any customized broadcast which will simply send a recording of your voice to each of the speakers. You can broadcast from within your home via one of your smart speakers or from anywhere using the Google Assistant on your phone.
5. Give Multiple Commands at Once
Ok Google, turn on the living room light, set the volume to 50%, and play my music.
Google can now accept up to three commands at a time. This works best for simple commands. Anything that requires Google to ask for more information will result in the assistant forgetting the other commands. But, when you need several things done at once, this can save you the trouble of repeating “Ok Google” over and over.
6. Play Games
Ok Google, tell me a riddle.
This command will launch Google into a series of riddles complete with changing sound effects and audio environments. But, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of games that can be played using the Google Home for kids and adults. Try out some of the following:
- Lucky Trivia – TV game show–style trivia game
- Lucky Trivia for Families – TV game show–style trivia game with age-appropriate questions
- Dustin from Stranger Things – Help Dustin and the gang over a walkie-talkie
- Song Pop – Name the song or artist from a song sample
- Musical Chairs – Sit when the music stops
- Crystal Ball – Magic 8 Ball-esque answers to questions
- Mad Libs – Fill in the blanks to create an amusing story
- Number Master – Remember a sequence of numbers and repeat them back
- Sound Pet – adopt an imaginary audio animal and pet, feed, and play with it
- What’s Your Inner Animal? – Answer a series of questions to determine your inner animal
- This or That – Kid-friendly version of Would You Rather
- Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock – Like Rock Paper Scissors, but with extra options
- Jungle Adventure – Essentially a Choose Your Own Adventure, but sound effects and juicy storytelling
7. Create a Grocery List
Ok Google, add apples to my grocery list.
By combining with the Google Keep app, you can use voice commands to create grocery lists or important notes. You will need to download the Google Keep app onto your phone. Once you do, you’ll be able to create, add to, and have your assistant read back notes and lists. Best of all, you’ll have them written out in the Keep app on your phone, so you’ve got the list when you get to the store.
8. Find a Plumber
Ok Google, I need a plumber.
Get connected with local professionals in just about any field by simply asking your Google Home. Google uses HomeAdvisor, Porch, and its own service called Local Services to vet, rate, and connect local professionals. The speaker can send an email with details about each option and then call once you’ve made a decision. Professionals are currently available from the following categories:
- House cleaners
- Heating and air conditioning services
- Garage door repair services
- House painters
- Appliance repair services
9. Listen to Nature Sounds
Ok Google, play nature sounds.
Do you need white noise to fall asleep? Does the sound of rain or a babbling brook help you relax? Use your Google Home to play a variety of ambient noises to provide a soothing atmosphere. If you’ve got multiple speakers, you can play different sounds on each of them. Try playing forest sounds in the room you’re in and river sounds in the next room over for a truly immersive experience. Here’s the full list of available sounds:
- Relaxing sounds
- Nature sounds
- Water sounds
- Running water sounds
- Babbling brook sounds
- Oscillating fan sounds
- Fireplace sounds
- Forest sounds
- Country night sounds
- Ocean sounds
- Rain sounds
- River sounds
- Thunderstorm sounds
- White noise
10. Set a Sleep Timer
Ok Google, play Enya for an hour.
A sleep timer will allow you to play music (or any of the relaxing sounds from the section above) for a certain amount of time. This will allow you to fall asleep to music or white noise, but then not be bothered by it after you’ve drifted off. You can tell Google to stop playing after a certain amount of time or at a certain time. You can also tell Google to set a sleep timer while something is already playing.
11. Automate Your Morning Routine
Ok Google, good morning.
With routines, you can get Google to do the heavy lifting for you, by assigning multiple actions to a single command or even scheduling actions to happen totally automatically. For example, when you wake up in the morning, you could turn on the lights (dimly of course), start your coffee brewing, have your schedule read to you, followed by the news report.
Routines allow you to combine all the most helpful features of your smart speaker and smart home into the most efficient package possible. The possibilities are endless.
12. Set Reminders for Almost Anything
Ok Google, remind me that I parked on 21st at 10:00 am tomorrow.
If you have a hard time remembering things, let Google remember for you. Reminders can be either time-based or location-based, but not both.
Time-based reminders will remind you at a certain time and can be recurring. Location-based reminders can be created on the Google Home, but will only appear on your phone as your Google Home typically doesn’t move anywhere.
13. Get Some Good News
Ok Google, tell me something good.
Using this command will give you a brief description of some positive recent news story. Get a boost of positivity by hearing about good people lifting their communities in positive ways. After Google has delivered the summary, your assistant will offer to send the full article to your phone.
14. Learn Everything Google Home Can Do
This guide covers 35 useful features that you may not have already known about on the Google Home, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of everything that your smart speaker is capable of. Browse the full list of features provided by Google here. Then explore the full range of commands built into the Google assistant here.
With enough time on these two pages, you should be able to learn every command and feature available on the Google Home System.
Check back often; new things are being added all the time.
Now that we’ve given you the comprehensive list of features and commands, how can we possibly have more tips and tricks to give? Well, commands are only the beginning. Read on to learn what settings you can change to make your Google Home work just right.
15. Set up a Speaker Group
A speaker group allows you to play audio simultaneously on multiple Google Home speakers. You can use this to play music throughout your home or use multiple speakers in a single room to really turn it up a notch. Read our full guide on setting up and using speaker groups for detailed instructions.
16. Add Multiple Voice Profiles
With multiple people in the same home, it makes sense to set up Voice Match for each person. Get personalized results for queries and commands related to the following:
- Google Photos
- Google Calendar
- Memory aids
- Shopping lists
- Recipe recommendations
Google will recognize your voice and instantly give you the results that are relevant to you. If a family member set up the Google Home, you probably don’t want to know about their schedule when you wake up in the morning. Using Voice Match keeps everything nice and tidy.
17. Continue the Conversation
With the Continued Conversations mode, you’ll be able to make multiple queries and commands without repeating “Ok Google” over and over. When this setting is enabled, your Google Home’s microphone will remain active for a few seconds after you’ve completed a request, allowing you to give a new request without reusing the wake word. This can make a string of requests feel much easier and more natural.
18. Change Your Assistant’s Voice (to John Legend)
On your Google home app under the assistant settings, select assistant voice to change how your assistant’s voice sounds. There are a number of possible voices designated by different colors. You’ll also find John Legend labeled as a “Cameo Voice.” Set the voice to whichever you most enjoy.
Be aware that John Legend’s voice is limited to a certain set of commands, otherwise, your Google Home will default back to its usual voice. Feel free to switch it up as often as you like.
19. Turn on Night Mode
Night mode will allow you to create a more pleasant and less jarring experience automatically for after-hours. With Night mode, you can change the maximum volume, dim the LED brightness, and block notification sounds during certain hours. This way you won’t have to remember to change the volume before asking for something late at night. You also won’t have to worry about disruptive lights or dings. In the morning, at a preset time, all the changes will be reversed.
20. Take Your Google Home on Vacation
By disconnecting your Google Home from your home Wi-Fi and connecting it to the Wi-Fi at your destination, your smart speaker can become a travel companion. The process is relatively simple and will allow you to bring a little bit of the magic of your smart home with you to paradise. View our complete guide on how to bring Google Home on vacation here.
21. Filter Content
If you’ve got kids, you may not want them to have access to potentially inappropriate content via the Google Home. Using the Digital Wellbeing settings, you can restrict access to explicit music and video content as well as to certain features such as the ability to make calls.
You can use these settings for everyone on the Google Home or just for Supervised Accounts and guests. When you’re the parent, you’re in charge of what content comes through and for whom.
22. Schedule Downtime
Google Home’s are amazing devices, but perhaps you don’t want to be connected all the time. Use downtime to schedule certain times of the day when your Google command will not respond to most commands.
Set this up during dinnertime or bedtime to help you and your family unplug and enjoy one another’s company or get some well-needed rest. Downtime can be set up under Digital Wellbeing right next to the content filter settings.
23. Turn Off the Microphone
One thing that concerns many people about smart speakers is privacy. Do I really want a microphone always on in my home? Although Google Home only records audio after the wake words “Ok Google” or “Hey Google,” you may still want to occasionally switch the microphone off completely.
All Google Home devices come with a physical switch on the backside to disable the microphone. Switching this to off will restrict all access to the microphone and prevent the Google Home from hearing or responding to any commands or queries.
This can also be useful if you’re using speaker groups to play music from multiple Google Home devices in a single room. Switch off the microphones on all but one in the room to control which Google Home takes questions and responds, but still use all the devices to fill the room with music.
24. Factory Reset Your Google Home
There may be a few occasions where you’ll want to completely restore your smart speaker back to factory settings and wipe all information off the device. This may be a last-ditch troubleshooting attempt, or you may be getting rid of a device (perhaps to upgrade to the Google Home Hub or Google Home Max). Hold the microphone for about 15 seconds and your Google Home should return to a fresh-out-of-the-box state.
25. Reboot Your Google Home
If your Google Home is acting strangely and you’re hoping to avoid the hassle of a full reset, a simple reboot may do the trick. A reboot is a relatively simple trick to fix common issues on almost all electronics. Access the settings of the individual Google Home and tab Reboot. This will power cycle the device and hopefully clear up any bugs you’ve been experiencing.
26. Customize Your News Reports
If you ask Google to play the news, you’ll get a report from a variety of different sources. This can result in you getting a lot of repeat stories. In the Google Home app, you can customize which sources you receive news from so that when you ask for news, Google will default to your favorites.
27. Make it Multilingual
If you speak multiple languages or have speakers of multiple languages within your home, you may want your Google Home to be able to respond accordingly. To add a language to your Google Home use the Home app to access Account, then Assistant, then Languages.
Once you’ve added a language, speaking to the Google Home in that language will cause the assistant to respond in the same language. However, the Google Assistant can only understand one language at a time; no switching partway through. Currently supported languages include:
Be aware, language options are currently more limited on the Google Home Max and Google Home Hub.
28. Change EQ Settings
Pump up the base by adjusting the equalizer settings in your Google Home. Tap on the device you want to adjust, then settings, and then equalizer. From this menu, you can adjust the base and the treble to a maximum of plus or minus 6 decibels.
Keep in mind, these settings will have more or less impact on the overall sound depending on the size of your speaker. The Google Home Max will be most affected, the Google Home Mini the least.
29. Delete Your Search History
From time to time, you may want to clear out the history of previous searches and commands. Google keeps audio recordings of your interactions with the assistant on file. These are for the purposes of improving speech recognition, but you may still want to erase everything out of here occasionally.
Fortunately, this is relatively as easy as a visit the My Activity section of your Google account in a browser. Then click on Filter by date and product, check Voice & Audio then select individual recordings or delete everything. If you delete everything, you’ll be back to a clean slate.
Now that we’ve covered commands and settings you should be pretty well aware of how to use your Google Home to the fullest as it is. But, how much can you customize the actual hardware of your Google Home? In the next section, we’ll explore what add-ons will give your smart speaker additional features and fresh new looks.
30. Change the Color of Your Base
The base of your Google Home (classic) is held by a simple magnet allowing them to be easily swapped for bases of different colors and materials. Find something that fits your décor. Google makes bases in the following color options:
- Metal Colors
- Fabric Colors
You can also find plenty of third-party sellers with compatible products. For example, Aresh makes some classy leather bases. These can be a fun and inexpensive way to make your Google Home fit more seamlessly into your space.
31. Add a Portable Battery Pack
Normally, Google Homes are tethered to the spaces they are plugged into as permanent fixtures. Transform your Google Home into a portable speaker with a battery pack. The Ninety7 Battery Base plugs directly into the Google Home’s power supply and provides up to eight hours of portable battery life.
Bring your Google Home from room to room. Or if combined with some type of mobile hotspot, take it to the backyard, on a picnic, or on the boat and enjoy all of your favorite smart home features on the go. Get it in white, black, or copper.
32. Mount Your Google Home Mini
Use a wall mount to save space and hide cables from a Google Home Mini. These work particularly well in areas where you may not have an easy way to hide power cables or don’t want to give up counter/table space, like a bathroom or kitchen. Raising the speaker up a bit can also improve sound quality. I use the AMORTEK Outlet Wall Mount for the Google Home Mini in my bathroom to give a little extra refinement to the smart speaker.
33. Control Your TV by Voice
A Google Chromecast allows you to stream Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, etc. right to your TV. Combining a Chromecast with a Google Home allows you to control your TV using vocal commands. The following are some of the commands that can be used on a Chromecast through the Google Home:
- “Ok Google, Start Netflix”
- “Ok Google, Next episode”
- “Ok Google, Pause”
- “Ok Google, Rewind two minutes”
- “Ok Google, turn on subtitles”
- “Ok Google, turn on Spanish subtitles”
- “Ok Google, turn on German dubbing”
- “Ok Google, turn off TV”
Being able to control your TV with just your voice means you’ll never have to go hunting for the remote between the couch cushions again. However, not all voice commands are available on all streaming platforms. Here’s a list of platforms with full voice support.
- HBO NOW
- Youtube TV
- Red Bull
- Google Play
With a Google Home and a Chromecast, watching TV has never been easier!
34. Cast Photos to Your TV
Once you’ve got your Chromecast all setup you can begin to use your TV for various things besides just watching shows and movies. One of these is casting photos to your TV. Want to show off pictures from that recent trip to Europe? Gather the family together around the TV and use the Google Photos app to cast directly to the TV.
You can also add your own photos to the Chromecast backdrop using Ambient Mode inside the Google Home app.
35. Control Your Smart Home
This blog is dedicated to helping people create and control smart home systems. The Google Home remains one of our favorite products because it’s compatible with almost all smart home equipment.
A Google Home can be the brains behind your whole smart home operation. And now that you know the ins and out of operating your smart speaker, you’ll be pretty brainy too.