How to Use Google Hangouts

Make free video calls and phone calls, or send messages

Mother and cute baby girl making a Google Hangout video call on a smartphone
d3sign / Getty Images

Google Hangouts was originally a feature of Google Plus, but the service became a standalone product in 2013 when Google added features from Google+ Messenger and Google Talk. Now, Hangouts is about keeping in touch with friends and family via video calls, phone calls, and messaging.

Access and use Google Hangouts on the web with the Chrome web browser, on Android devices, and on iOS devices.

Google Hangouts on the Web

Google Hangouts on the web is an easy way to send messages or make voice calls or video chats.

You'll need a Google account, such as a Gmail account or Google Plus account, to use Hangouts.

  1. Navigate to the Google Hangouts website and sign in.

    Screenshot of Google Hangouts page
  2. Select the type of communication you'd like to use by choosing Video Call, Phone Call, or Message.

  3. For a video call, you'll be asked for access to your computer's camera and microphone if you haven't already allowed this. Invite others to the video chat by entering their email address when prompted. You may also share the link to the video chat manually by selecting Copy Link to Share.

  4. For a phone call or message, select the person to contact from your contacts list. Use the search field to find a person by name, email address, or phone.

  5. For a message, enter a contact's name, email address, or phone number. Find someone on Hangouts by typing their name or email address.

Google Hangouts via Android or iOS App

The mobile version of Google Hangouts is similar in functionality to the web version.

  1. Open the Google Hangouts app and tap the plus sign. (Make sure you're logged in to your Google account.

    Screenshots of Google Hangouts Mobile app
  2. Choose the contact(s) you want to invite to your Hangout. If you have your contacts sorted into groups, you can choose a group. 

  3. In the screen that opens, tap the video icon at the top of the screen to initiate a one-to-one or group video call, or the phone receiver icon to begin a voice call.

  4. Send messages from the bottom of the screen. Use emojis in much the same way as you would with any texting app. Messages are sent and received instantly, in real-time, between two users or among a whole group.

If phone invitees are participating in a video chat, ask them to listen via headphones/earbuds to reduce echo. Speak clearly into your microphone so everyone can hear you. If someone does something interesting on camera, describe it to those who cannot see their video window.