How to set up and use Activity Zones

Activity Zones can have your camera send alerts and mark your video history timeline when there's important motion in the zone. You can set up your own custom zones, and in some cases, Nest will even do the work for you by automatically creating a zone over a spot we think you’d find interesting so alerts become more specific and meaningful.

Note: To create Activity Zones, you need a trial or paid Nest Aware subscription.

With Activity Zones, you can:

  • Monitor up to 4 zones per camera.
  • Give each zone a custom shape, size, color and name.
  • Get people alerts and other motion alerts when activity happens in a zone. If you have a Nest Hello in the US, you can also get package alerts.
  • Notifications include the name of the zone, so you know exactly where something happened.
  • Set up a zone where there’s activity you don’t want to be bothered about, such as a window overlooking a busy view, but get alerts for activity throughout the rest of the room.
  • See markers on your video history timeline for activity that happened in each zone, so it’s easy to review everything.

Activity Zones won’t change what your camera sees

Even after you create Activity Zones, your camera will still stream its entire view and store the footage in your video history. The video feed stays the same with or without Activity Zones. But when you have Activity Zones, you can get alerts about motion in certain parts of your camera’s view and also see when motion happened there in the past.

Creating and using Activity Zones on a phone

Create a new activity zone

  1. Open the app and select the camera that you want to make an Activity Zone for.
  2. Tap Settings .
  3. Select Activity Zones.

    Note: You need to have an active Nest Aware subscription. Otherwise, you won’t see the Activity Zone option.

  4. Tap Create Zone Plus icon. The new zone appears in the middle of the screen.

  1. Turn your phone to go into landscape mode for a full screen of your camera’s view. Make sure the screen rotation setting on your phone is on.
  2. Tap and drag inside the zone to move it.
  3. Tap and drag any of the 8 points on the sides of the zones to change its shape.
  4. To change the color of the Activity Zone, click one of the colored circles on the bottom of your screen. You can pick from four different colors.
  5. Tap the pencil Pencil icon at the top of the screen to give your zone a descriptive name. Tap the checkmark app confirm icon to save the zone name.
  6. Once you've given the Activity Zone the shape, color and name you want, tap the checkmark app confirm icon to save the zone. 

Edit an activity zone

  1. Select the camera that you want to edit an Activity Zone for.
  2. Tap Settings .
  3. Select Activity Zones.
  4. Select the zone you want to edit.
  5. Change the zone as you like. You can change its size, shape, color, and name - just like you would if you were creating a new Activity Zone.
  6. When you're finished, tap the checkmark app confirm icon to save. If you change your mind, you can always tap cancel app cancel icon in the top left corner to keep your previous settings.

Remove an activity zone

Deleting an Activity Zone won’t erase footage from your video history, but it will remove markers on your timeline that show when your camera noticed activity there.

  1. Select the camera that you want to delete an Activity Zone for.
  2. Tap Settings .
  3. Select Activity Zones.
  4. Select the zone you want to delete.
  5. Tap delete nest cam trash clip  at the bottom right corner of your screen. Confirm that you want to delete the zone.

Creating and using Activity Zones on a computer

With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can make an Activity Zone for any spot you want to keep an eye on. You can also edit or delete existing Activity Zones.

 

Create a new activity zone

  1. Sign in to the Nest app at home.nest.com.
  2. Select the camera that you want to make an Activity Zone for.
  3. Click Activity Zones activity zone icon in the lower right corner.

    If you don't see the Activity Zones icon, try making your browser window bigger to reveal it.

    Note: You need to have an active Nest Aware subscription. Otherwise, you won’t see the Activity Zone icon.

  4. Click Create. The new zone appears in the middle of the screen.

Make and shape an activity zone

You can move an Activity Zone and change its shape to fit around any area or object you want to keep an eye on. Here's how:

 
  1. Click and drag inside the zone to move it.
  2. Click and drag any of the 8 points on the sides of the
    zone
     to change its shape.
  3. To change the color of the Activity Zone, click the colored
    circle
     in the lower left of your screen. You can pick from
    four different colors.
  4. Once you've given the Activity Zone the shape and color
    you want, give it a descriptive name. Type the name into
    the box in the bottom left corner of your browser.
  5. Click Done to save the new Activity Zone.
activity zone colors

Automatic Activity Zone created around a door

If your Google Nest camera spots a door, it can automatically
create an Activity Zone around it. This lets you get
alerts for important things like the door opening and
closing, and people moving through the doorway.

The Nest app will let you know when the Activity Zone
has been created, and if you already have alerts
turned on, you'll start receiving specific alerts about
the zone right away.

If you want, you can remove the zone, or keep the zone
and turn off specific alerts for it.

Learn about camera notifications and how to
change settings >

Note: Nest Aware will only create the zone if you’ve
recently set up your Nest camera or Google Nest Hello and
haven’t set up any Activity Zones for it yet. Usually, the
automatic zone will appear 24 to 48 hours after you
add a new camera to the Nest app.

nest app ios knock knock phone example

 

Get alerts for your Activity Zone

Although Activity Zones won’t change the footage your camera streams and records, adding a zone can give you more useful alerts by telling you where the motion happened.

If you already have a zone set up, you can also use the Nest app to manage whether or not you’ll get notifications alerting you to motion in that zone.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to your camera’s video stream in the Nest app.
  2. Select Settings .
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. Tap a zone’s name.
  5. Then select People or All other motion or both to get alerts within the zone. If you have Hello in the US, you can also select Packages, which can let you know that a package has been dropped off or picked up in its view.

    Note: If People is selected, you’ll get an alert even if there’s a partial view of a person within the zone, such as an arm.

If you have email alerts or push notifications enabled for your camera, you’ll also get a snapshot of what your camera saw when it sent you the alert.

Edit an Activity Zone

You can move Activity Zones and change their shapes and colors. This comes in handy if you need to adjust the angle of your camera or if something changes about the view it’s currently looking at.

Note: If your camera automatically created an Activity Zone over a door (see above), you can edit it just like any other zone using these instructions.

Here's how to edit a zone:

  1. Use a computer with a web browser to sign into your
    account at home.nest.com.
  2. Click Activity Zones activity zone icon in the lower right corner of
    the screen.
  3. Select the zone you want to edit.
  4. Change the zone as you like. You can change its size,
    shape, color, and name - just like you would if you were
    creating a new Activity Zone.
  5. When you're finished, click Done.
Select current zone or add a new zone screen

Remove an Activity Zone

Deleting an Activity Zone won’t erase footage from your video history, but it will remove markers on your timeline that show when your camera noticed activity there.

You can delete a zone by following these steps:

  1. Use a computer with a web browser to sign into your account at home.nest.com.
  2. Select the camera that has the Activity Zone you want to delete.
  3. Click Activity Zones activity zone icon in the lower right corner.
  4. Click on the zone that you want to remove.
  5. Click on the red Delete button.
  6. Confirm by clicking Delete one more time.

 

Spotting motion in your Activity Zones

Whenever your camera spots activity in a zone you’ve created, your timeline is marked to let you know. The marker’s color will match the Activity Zone’s color – so you can see at a glance when and where activity has happened in your video history.

You won't have to watch, fast-forward, or rewind your entire video history to find what you're looking for. The Nest app points out the activity for you - all you need to do is scroll through the timeline and look for the dots and bars that indicate activity. Tap or click each marker to see the video your camera recorded when it spotted the activity.

View Activity Zone markers on your Sightline

The Nest app on your phone or tablet makes it easy to review the motion your camera captured in each zone.

Simply scroll through your Sightline, and when you see a colored dot or bar, you can tap it to start watching.

Markers are the same color as the Activity Zone that the motion happened in.

Learn about your Sightline and video history >

Use Activity Zones to look for motion after it's already happened

Activity Zones aren’t just about giving you more meaningful alerts. They can also help you go back and see when there was activity in a zone in the past – even if it happened days ago, and even if you didn’t have an Activity Zone created when the motion happened.

Here’s how to check for past activity in a particular area of your camera’s view:

  1. Sign in to the Nest app with a computer at home.nest.com.
  2. Create an Activity Zone around the spot where you want to see markers for activity in the past.
  3. New markers for any activity in the zone will appear on your timeline after a moment or two. You might need to go back to the Nest app home screen and click on your camera again to refresh the view. After the new markers appear on your timeline, you can scroll back through your video history and look for activity.

Tips for setting up Activity Zones

Once you've created a few Activity Zones, you might be wondering what else you can do with them. Every home is different, and you're only limited by your imagination. Try experimenting to see what you can do.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your Activity Zones and to help avoid false alerts for activity areas you aren’t concerned about.

Keep foreground and background activity in mind

While people can see a flat picture and understand depth, Activity Zones are 2D shapes and can’t process depth. For example, if you have an Activity Zone around your whole front door, you’ll get a notification any time the door opens. However, you’ll also get a notification any time someone passes in front of the door, even if they don’t open it.

activity zone door

If you’d like to receive a notification only when the door opens, set the Activity Zone higher up on the door so that a person walking in front of the door will not trigger an alert.

Note: If your camera automatically created an Activity Zone over a door for you, it probably covered the whole door. You can edit the zone so it only covers the top, so you won’t get an alert for someone walking past the door.

activity zone top door


Create small and selective Activity Zones

If you’re interested in a specific view of your video, create a small, selective Activity Zone for it.

For example, let’s say you want to know when someone walks by the window, and you create a zone over the whole window. A big Activity Zone will notice a lot of activity, whether it’s inside, in front of the window, or outside, behind the window.

Activity zone window selected

Your camera might even alert you when the light is turned on or off. To fix this, a smaller Activity Zone that starts below the light fixture will still tell your camera to look for movement outside the window, but not for the light turning on and off.

activity zone back window

There’s one more adjustment we can make. Raise the bottom of the Activity Zone above the seating area. That way, your camera can send an alert when someone walks by the window outside, but not when people sit down to eat (or when the light turns on and off). Keep in mind, you still might get an alert if a tall person walks past the counter in the foreground.

activity zone back window top

In general, the smaller and more precise the Activity Zone, the more accurate your camera’s alerts will be.

Experiment with the size and placement of your Activity Zones to get the effect that you want.

 

Don't overlap Activity Zones

If you overlap two or more Activity Zones, you’ll only receive a notification for the Activity Zone where the activity first occurred. If the activity actually happened in two or more Activity Zones at the same time, you’ll only get a notification for one of the Activity Zones.


Create an Activity Zone to reduce unwanted notifications

You can also create an Activity Zone and set alerts to only happen when there’s activity outside the zone. This is a possible solution if you’re getting too many notifications from your camera, but don’t want to turn them completely off with the app.

Let’s say you want to get alerted to any motion in a room, but you don’t want to know every time a person outside walks by the window.

Activity zone window selected

Simply create an Activity Zone over the window, and turn on notifications for motion outside of the zone. This way, you’ll only get alerted when motion occurs in the rest of the room.

  1. Create an Activity Zone over the area you don’t want to receive alerts about. Be sure to cover the whole area where the motion occurs - the larger, the better.
  2. On the app home screen, tap Settings 
  3. Tap Notifications.
  4. Select your camera.
  5. Make sure the Activity Zone you just created has both People and All other motion alerts unchecked.

Note: For Hello (US only), you may want to keep Activity Zones with package alerts checked so that you can continue to get notifications when a package is delivered or retrieved in its view.

  1. Tap motion outside of a zone and check the alerts you want to get.

Now you'll receive alerts only when motion happens outside of the Activity Zone.

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