What To Do When Google Assistant Won't Play Movies

Is it your movie service or is it your assistant?

A woman tries to watch a movie on her phone, but Google Assistant won't play movies.

Pras Boonwong / EyeEm / Getty

Google Assistant is a virtual assistant that allows you to perform tasks like making appointments, sending text messages, and even playing movies from a variety of streaming services. Sometimes, however, your trusty assistant just won't play your movies.

There are four things to try when your Google Assistant won't play your movies.

When Google Assistant won't play movies anywhere, it's usually an issue with the app not having sufficient permissions. When it won't play movies from a specific service, it's usually because you're using the wrong Google Account, or you haven't linked the streaming service to Google Assistant.

Check Your Google Assistant Permissions For Playing Movies

When Google Assistant isn't able to play movies, the first thing you should check is whether it has the correct permissions. On an Android phone, permissions are the way that you can allow an app to access various things like your microphone, local storage, and your contact information.

Google Assistant needs access to your microphone, at a bare minimum, to be able to hear your voice commands. However, it also needs access to a variety of other permissions to carry out all the tasks that it's capable of doing.

Here's how to check and adjust Google Assistant permissions:

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap Apps & notifications.

    A screenshot of the Android settings menu.

    If you have an older version of Android, you may need to tap Apps instead.

  2. Tap Google.

    A screenshot of the Android apps and notifications menu.
  3. Tap Permissions.

    A screenshot of the Google app info menu.
  4. Make sure that the Google app has the appropriate permissions. If any of the sliders are slid to the left or grayed out, slide them to the right.

    A screenshot of the Google app permissions screen.

    Google Assistant may not need every single permission to play movies, but granting it access to everything will allow you to see if this is the problem. If Google Assistant can play movies after granting it full permissions, you can try removing the ones you don't want it to have to see if it still works.

  5. Check to see if Google Assistant is able to play movies.

Make Sure You're Using The Right Google Account For Movies

Google Assistant is designed to play movies from Google Play Movies right out of the box without any cumbersome linking process. However, you need to use the same Google account for Google Assistant that you're using for Google Play Movies. If you have multiple Google accounts, and there's a mismatch between Google Assistant and Google Play Movies, that can cause problems.

Here's how to check what Google accounts you're using for Google Assistant and Google Play Movies, and change them if necessary:

  1. Open Google Assistant, and tap your user icon.

    A screenshot of Google Assistant.

    If you have an older version of Google Assistant, you may need to tap the blue inbox icon.

  2. Tap Account.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant user menu.
  3. Tap the Google account you want to use with Google Assistant.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant user selection menu.

    If you don't see the Google account you want to use, tap add account and follow the on screen prompts.

  4. Open the Google Play Movies & TV app.

    A screenshot of Google Play Movied & TV.
  5. Verify that the account shown at the left is the same as the account that you selected in step three. If it isn't, then tap the user icon associated with the account that you selected in step three.

    A screenshot of the Google Play Movies app user menu.
  6. Open Google Assistant, and check to see if Google Assistant is able to play movies.

Link Your Google Account To Your Movie Services

Google Assistant can play movies from a large number of sources, but it only works if you have linked each streaming service to your Google account. Most services have to be linked, including streaming services like Netflix and HBO.

Here's how to link a movie streaming service to Google Assistant:

  1. Open Google Assistant, and tap your user icon.

    A screenshot of Google Assistant.

    In some older versions of Google Assistant, you need to tap the blue inbox icon instead.

  2. Tap Settings.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant user menu.
  3. Tap Services.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant personal info menu.
  4. Tap Video & Photos.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant services menu.
  5. Tap a video service, like Netflix, that you want to link to Google Assistant.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant videos and photos menu.
  6. Tap LINK ACCOUNT.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant Netflix account link confirmation.
  7. Enter your login credentials, and tap Sign in and Link.

    A screenshot of the Netflix Sign In and Link page.
  8. If your video streaming service supports it, select a profile for Google Assistant to use.

    A screenshot of the Netflix profile selection screen.
  9. Tap Confirm.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant Netflix link confirmation screen.
  10. Repeat these instructions to link any additional video streaming services that you want to use with Google Assistant.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant videos and photos menu.
  11. Open Google Assistant, and check to see if it's able to play movies.

Restore Your Google Assistant To Its Factory Original State

If Google Assistant still can't play movies, even after you have checked its permissions and linked your movie streaming accounts, then there may be a problem with your Google app.

Google Assistant relies on the Google app to function, so any corrupt data in the Google app, or a bug in a recent update, can cause problems. In some cases, restoring your Google app to the state it was in when you first got your phone will allow it to play movies again.

This is especially likely if your Google Assistant used to play movies, and it stopped after you performed a recommended update.

Here's how to restore your Google Assistant:

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap Apps & notifications.

    A screenshot of the Android settings app.

    If you have an older version of Android, you might have to tap Apps instead.

  2. Tap Google.

    A screenshot of the Android apps and notifications menu.
  3. Tap Storage.

    A screenshot of the Google app info screen.
  4. Tap Clear Cache, then tap Clear Storage.

    A screenshot of the Google app storage screen.

    If you have an older version of the Google app, you might have to tap Manage Storage instead.

  5. Tap Clear All Data.

    A screenshot of the Google app storage menu.
  6. Tap OK.

    A screenshot of the Google app delete all data confirmation.
  7. Tap the back arrow.

    A screenshot of the Google app storage screen.
  8. Tap Disable.

    A screenshot of the Google app info screen.
  9. Tap Disable App.

    A screenshot of the Google app disable confirmation.

    Make sure to complete the following instructions to reenable the Google app, or your phone may not work correctly. Never leave the Google app disabled.

  10. Tap OK.

    A screenshot of the Google app factory restore confirmation.
  11. Tap Enable.

    A screenshot of a disabled Google app.

    Once you have reenabled the Google app, you can check to see if Google Assistant is able to play movies. If it hasn't, then your last option is to install the latest update.

  12. Scroll down, and tap App details.

    A screenshot of the Google app info screen.
  13. Tap Update.

    A screenshot of the Google app needing an update.

    If you want to wait to update your Google app, you can find it in the Google Play store later.

  14. Your phone will download and install the latest update for the Google app. Once it's done, you can check to see if Google Assistant is able to play movies. If it still can't, then you'll have to wait for Google to issue a patch to fix your problem. You can visit the official Google Assistant support forum for additional information and to report your problem.