How to Customize Your Google Home, Max, or Mini

From parental controls to equalizers, the settings feature is your friend

The Google Home smart speaker is great right out of the box, but did you know you can customize it even better? You can change the default music service, specify which websites to use when reading you the news, and set up complicated routines capable of carrying out multiple commands.

Before you can do all that and more, you'll need to know how to get into the Google Home settings to personalize it.

How to Open the Google Home Settings

There are few buttons and no screen on the Google Home smart speaker, so how do you get into settings? Google Home requires your smartphone or tablet to set it up and personalize it via the Google Home app.

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A screenshot of the Welcome Home screen in Google Home
  1. First, launch the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet.

  2. Tap the Devices button in the upper-right corner to go to the Devices screen.

  3. Locate your Google Home in the Devices screen and tap the three dots in the upper-right corner of your Google Home.

  4. Select Settings from the pop-up menu.

How to Customize Google Home

Google Home settings categories are General, Google Assistant, Sound, and Device settings. The Google Assistant settings are global and will affect all of your smart speakers and other devices. General, Sound, and Device settings are specific to the Google Home chosen, so if you have two Google smart speakers, you can adjust them individually.

A screenshot of Google Home's settings
  • Linked account(s): Google Home depends on your Google account for many services such as playing music from YouTube Music. You can change your connected Google account or even link another account, but first, you'll need to add the other account to the Google Home app
  • Name: If you have multiple Google Home devices, it can be useful to give each a specific name to tell them apart quickly.
  • Group: Want to play music on all of your smart speakers at once? Tap Group, then Create new group to place your current Google Home speaker in a group. Go to each device's settings and put them in the same group; to play music on all of your devices, say, "Play Rock on [group name]."
  • Wi-Fi: Your Google Home device interacts with your smartphone or tablet when on the same Wi-Fi network. If you move or get a new router, go into the Wi-Fi settings and select Forget This Network. Then the Google Home speaker will go into discovery mode and allow you to set it up again, just as you did when it was fresh out of the box.
  • Equalizer: In the Sound settings are Google Home's Equalizer settings. Google Home uses a simple EQ with just Bass and Treble settings. For playing music, a basic rule of thumb is to raise the bass and treble at a lower and mid-range volume that you might have in a home and lower the bass and treble when the volume is so loud it's difficult to hear people. However, different types of music sound better with different EQ settings.
  • Group delay correction: If you've placed multiple speakers in a group and they're not in sync, you can use this setting to fix syncing issues.
  • Default speaker: If you have multiple Google Home speakers, you can set one as the default for music and audio. If you set up a group of Google Home smart speakers, you can set the entire group as a default or a Bluetooth speaker.
  • Default TV: If you happen to have multiple TVs set up to work with Google Home, you can set one as the default.
  • Alarms & timers: If you're using your Google Home Mini as an alarm clock, you can set the volume using this setting. To set the time, use a voice command, such as "Hey Google, wake me up at 7 AM."
  • Night mode: If you use Google Home as an alarm, Night mode can be your best friend. Night mode changes the brightness of the LED lights and lowers the notifications' volume during a set time.
  • Do not disturb: If you want to mute reminders and broadcast messages, turn on Do not disturb mode.
  • Guest mode: If you have a friend over who wants to listen to a song that's not in your library, use guest mode to cast to your Google Home speaker from their device. They'll need to be on the same Wi-Fi network and use the four-digit PIN displayed in the settings.
  • Accessibility: The accessibility settings allow you to force Google Home to play a sound when it starts listening for your voice and stops listening.
  • Paired Bluetooth devices: If you've paired your Google Home smart speaker with other devices, you can access those settings here.
  • Reverse device controls: You can reverse the controls if the Google Home is mounted upside down.
  • Lower volume when listening: By default, the audio volume will lower when interacting with the Google Assistant, but you can turn it off.
  • Let others control your cast media: When casting audio, you can allow other Android devices to control the media. They'll need to be on the same Wi-Fi network for this to work.

How to Customize Google Assistant in Settings

The Google Assistant settings are global, meaning they'll affect all of your devices. You can change the default sources for music and news, and get at your shopping list and other useful features.

A screenshot of Google Home music settings
  • Music: YouTube Music is the default source for music, but you can set this as Pandora, Deezer, or Spotify. You'll need to link Pandora, Deezer, or Spotify to use those as the default source.
  • Home control: Google Home can interact with compatible smart devices around your home, such as your doorbell, cameras, light bulbs, etc. You can set up these devices under the Home control settings.
  • Shopping list: A useful feature of Google Assistant is adding items to your shopping list by talking to your Google Home speaker. You can access the shopping list from settings and add more things as needed.
  • Voice Match: While not perfect, Voice Match attempts to recognize your specific voice. Once set up, Voice Match will keep personal information such as your calendar private when it doesn't detect your voice speaking the voice commands.

The Music, Home control, Shopping list, and Voice Match controls are accessible from the first page of settings, but to set other features like where to get news or stock quotes, you'll need to tap the More button in the Google Assistant settings block.

Screenshot of Google Home Settings
There's a lot hidden in the More page in Google Assistant settings.
  • News: Don't like the content you're getting from Google Assistant? There are dozens of sources that can replace the defaults. Tap the X to remove a news source or tap the Add news sources button, then tick off the checkbox next to the sources you want to set as a default.
  • Routines: Perhaps the most powerful tool in Google Assistant's arsenal is routines. A routine lets you link several commands with a specific keyword, such as "Good morning," reading you the news, and giving you traffic updates for your commute. You can edit Routines in this section, and add new Routines by tapping the circular blue plus button in the lower-left corner.
  • Voice and Video calls: Want to use your Google Home Mini or Home Max as a speakerphone? Connect Google Assistant to Google Voice, Google Duo, Project Fi, or your actual phone number.
  • Calendar: If you have multiple Google accounts, you can choose a default Google Calendar for marking events and setting up meetings.
  • Stocks: You can follow specific stocks via Google. Tap this link to go to Google's Finance section in a web browser.

How to Set up Parental Controls on Your Google Home

Parental Controls are a part of Google's Family Link program. This program allows you to set up a Google account for kids and link them within a family group. You can grant specific permissions, which carry over to devices such as the Google Home smart speakers.