How to Use Google Home Video

The Google Home Hub does more than just controlling your smart devices

A photo of the Google Home hub with a video display

The Google Home hub is capable of controlling a lot of devices to automate your home. But what many people don't realize is how useful the the Google Home video screen on the device is.

Depending where you place the device in your home, there are many useful things you can do.

Using Google Home Hub as a Photo Display

If you do want to have a slideshow photo frame, you can use Google's new Google Photos features designed specifically for the hub to convert your Google Home hub for the job.

Before you can do this, you'll want to create a specific photo album in Google Photos as the source of your slideshow.

To set up a Google Home photo display:

  1. Open the Google Home app. On the home screen, tap the icon for your Google Home Hub device.

    Screenshot of the Google Home main screen.
  2. Tap the Gear icon to enter the Device settings screen. Scroll down the Device settings menu and tap Photo frame.

    Screenshot of the Google Home device settings page.
  3. This will take you to the Ambient Mode screen where you can enable Google Photos as your ambient mode.

    Screenshot of the Ambient Mode settings screen.

    Ambient Mode is what your Google Home hub will switch to when you're not using it. By default it's set to display the date and time, but you can configure it on this settings menu to use other information sources.

  4. In the Google Photos settings screen, you can select which album you want to use as your Google Home slideshow display.

    Screenshot of the album options in Google Photos settings screen.
  5. Once you select your preferred photo frame album, when your Google Home hub enters ambient mode, it will start displaying a slideshow of all of the photos in your selected album.

Automated Google Home Slideshow with Live Albums

If you want to take your Google Home hub photo slideshow to a whole new level, make the photo album a Live Album.

A Live Album lets you select people who you want to appear in the slideshow. Google will use artificial intelligence on new photos you add to your Google Photos account. If the incoming photo includes the person you've selected, Google Photos will automatically add the photo to your live album.

Screenshot of Select people & pets in Google Photo album

To enable this feature, just select the people or pets you want to include in the slideshow under the Select people & pets section when you're adding a new album in Google Photos.

Another useful feature for automating your Google Home hub photo slideshow is selecting the Recent highlights album when you select an album for the photo slideshow source. This will automatically display recently taken photos in your Google Home photo slideshow.

Using Google Home Hub as a Video Display

There are a lot of reasons you may want to use your Google Home hub as a display for video content.

Just a few examples include:

  • Watching cooking videos in the kitchen.
  • Chatting with people using Google Duo.
  • Casting movies and shows to the Google Home hub.
  • Watching how-to videos while working on a project.

Since YouTube is owned by Google, any time you ask your Google Home hub to show a video about a specific subject, the screen will display YouTube video search results.

If you already know what movie or show you want to play, there are several ways to display videos on your Google Home hub.

Make the Google Home Hub Your Default TV

The command to play a movie or TV show using any of your linked services is:

Play <movie name> on Netflix on TV.

If you have Netflix enabled as a linked video service, Google Home will search for that content on Netflix and immediately play the requested video.

To do this, you need to enable your Google Home hub as your default TV device, and then add a video service to your Google Home hub:

  1. Open the Google Home app on your smartphone and tap the Google Home device.

    Screenshot of the Google Home main screen.
  2. Tap the gear icon to enter the Settings page for your Google Home hub.

    The location of the settings icon on the Google Home hub page.
  3. In the Device Settings screen, tap Default TV.

    Screenshot of the Google Home hub Device settings page.
  4. Select your Google Home hub device as the Default TV. Tap DONE to finish.

    Screenshot of the Choose a default TV setting page
  5. Return to the Google Home app main page, and tap the gear Settings icon.

    Screenshot of the Google Home app main page.
  6. In the Settings screen, tap Linked media accounts.

    Screenshot of the Google Home settings menu.
  7. Scroll down to the Video section and use the + (plus) icon next to each service to link that account with your Google Home hub.

    Screenshot of Google Home linked media accounts.
  8. Once linked, you can mention that service as a source for video content with voice commands to your Google Home hub.

If you don't see a service you expected to see here, you'll need to enable it using the Google Assistant app. In the Google Assistant app, select the Services tab. Select Videos & Photos and tap LINK under the service you'd like to link to your Google account.

Cast Video Content to the Google Home Hub

When you connect your Google Home hub to your Wi-Fi network, it immediately shows up as an available device when you cast content from YouTube, Netflix, or any other online service that supports casting.

Screenshot of casting to the Google Home hub display

This makes it easy to cast video from your laptop or your smartphone to your Google Home hub video display.

Many commercial casting devices, like the Roku, also support casting to the Google Home hub.

Google Duo Video Calling

If you're familiar with the Google Duo video calling service, you may be pleased to know that you can quickly enable Google Duo video calling with your Google Home hub.

To link your Google Duo account with your Google Home hub, just open the Google Home app, tap the Google Home hub device, select the gear settings icon, scroll down and tap Duo calling to link your phone number.

On the settings screen where you enable Duo calling, scroll up and make sure Personal results is enabled. This setting is required if you want to make video calls to your Google contacts.

Google Home Hub Video Features

Between casting video, setting the hub as your default TV, or displaying a photo slideshow in ambient mode, there isn't much you can't do with video on your Google Home hub.