Did you just get a Google Home speaker for the holidays? This stubby little speaker is about to become your best friend. By yelling out “OK Google!” you’ll be able to set timers, play music, have it control a Chromecast connected to a TV, or tell you the phone number of the nearest Walgreens. Here’s how to set it up.
1. Plug in your Google Home
Your Google Home plugs into the wall and, after a few minutes, will light up and start looking for your phone. There’s no on/off button. It’s always on when it’s plugged in. Stay nearby with your phone.
2. Download the Google Home app from your phone’s app store and open the app
Download from Google Play or the App Store. Accept the terms of service, and agree to turn on location permissions. Yes, Google’s spying on you. By having the Google Home, you’re all in. Might as well let it know where you are. Make sure you are connected to your home Wi-Fi network, as your phone will pass that information to the Google Home.
3. Sign in with a Google account
You’ll need a Google account to use Google Home; preferably one with a gmail.com address. If you don’t have one, now’s the time to pop open your browser on your PC, go to Gmail.com, and set one up.
4. Don’t allow email notifications
We don’t need more spam. You’re going to have to do this twice.
5. Tap the setup icon in the upper right-hand corner
Now, tap Sign In and set the location of your Google Home hardware. The speaker needs to do this so it can give you local weather and commute times.
6. Link your music service
Google Home supports four music services: Google Play Music, YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora. To get the most out of it, you need a Google Play Music or Spotify premium account. Those will let you request specific songs and albums. With the free services, you’ll only be able to listen to themed stations or artist mixes. Google Home can’t access your purchased or local music libraries.
7. Step through the tutorial
Now you’ll get some tips on how to use the Google Home, and fun things to ask it. My daughter likes to ask it how to spell words when she’s doing her homework.
8. Tap the left-hand menu button, then More Settings
Let’s set up some of the optional features on the Google Home. You can get to them through the menu accessed by tapping the three-line icon in the upper left hand corner. Tap More settings to see the full list.
9. Change your news and My Day settings
When you say “listen to the news” or “tell me about my day,” you can get customized information from your Google Home. Tapping News, then Customize, lets you change your news sources—for instance, from NPR to Fox News. Tapping My Day lets you change a few options in the daily briefing.
10. Change what the Google Home calls you
Scroll all the way down and choose “Personal Info,” then “Nickname,” to change what Google Home calls you and how to pronounce it. Yes, you can have it call you “Boss” or “Colonel.”
11. Enter your commute locations
If you want the Google Home to give you accurate commute times, under “Personal info,” choose “Home & work locations.” Enter the address of your home and office. Then you can ask it “how long is my commute?”
12. Add home electronics
Google Home is compatible with Philips Hue lightbulbs, Nest thermostats, Samsung SmartThings, and Chromecasts. Tap Home Control to add a new Nest, Hue or SmartThings device. For you to add or control these items, they all have to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
13. Add Chromecast devices
Google Home needs a Chromecast, or a Chromecast-compatible TV, to control your TV. Plug your Chromecast into the TV and switch to the appropriate input. When the Chromecast tells you on the TV to switch to the Google Home app, tap the “devices” icon at the upper right-hand corner of the main screen to set up the Chromecast. You’ll need to tie it to the same Google account used by your Google Home. You can then use your voice to control various music, video, and photo services, like “OK Google, play Christmas music” via Spotify or Google Play Music or “OK Google, play Stranger Things” via Netflix.
14. Control Google Home by voice and touch
Curious about what to ask? Look in your Google Home app. Tap the menu button on the upper left and choose “What can you do?” for some suggestions. To change the volume, make a dialing motion on the top surface of the Google Home, or say, “OK Google, volume ” and a number from one to 11. Have fun chatting with Google!