Learn about camera alerts and how to change settings

Alerts let you know when your Google Nest camera or Nest Hello video doorbell has spotted important activity. The options you see will depend on the type of camera and whether you subscribe to Nest Aware.

You can turn on all activity to receive notifications for everything your camera detects, or choose only certain types of activity. You can get a push notification on your phone, get an email, or both. You can also choose whether to get notifications all the time or only when you and anyone with shared access has left home.

If you’ve invited others to share access to your home with Family Accounts, each person can set their own camera alert preferences.

In homes with more than one camera, you’ll need to set up alerts for each camera separately.

How to set up camera alerts

  1. On the app home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  2. Select Notifications.
  3. Select the camera that you want to change alert settings for and select from the options below.

Notification type

Select push notification, email, or both to send alerts to the Nest app or email.

  • Push notification
    Alerts will pop up on your phone, just like alerts from other apps. You’ll receive notifications as long as you’re signed in to the Nest app.
    Note: Closing the Nest app doesn’t sign you out. You can keep receiving notifications even if the Nest app is closed.
  • Email
    Alerts are sent from notifications@nest.com to the email address you used to sign in to your account in the Nest app. You can get emails whether or not you’re signed in to the Nest app.

When to send

  • No one’s home
    This option will set your camera to send notifications only after your home has switched to Away mode.
  • Always
    When this option is selected, your camera will send notifications whether you’re home or away.

Activity types

You can select all activity or specific activity to receive alerts from. The types of activity are described in more detail below. 

Activity types

Your camera can send alerts when it sees a person, senses motion or sound, if it gets disconnected from Wi-Fi, and more. The options available to you depend on your camera type and whether you have a Nest Aware subscription.

Standard alerts

  • People: If you have a Nest Cam IQ, Nest Hello, or a Nest Aware subscription for a non-IQ camera, person alerts can let you know when your camera has seen or heard a person. Your camera can let you know when it spots a person and send a person seen alert with a snapshot of the person your camera spotted.
  • Note: Nest Hello will not send person heard notifications, only person seen notifications.
  • Motion: Your camera’s software can look for all other motion in the scene and send an alert when it detects activity.
  • Sound: Your camera’s microphone can pick up sound happening near your camera and send an alert.
  • Note: To send sound alerts, your camera’s microphone needs to be turned on. Motion and sound alerts are turned off by default on some cameras.

Other alerts

You won’t see these alert options in Notification settings. These alerts are always on to keep you informed about important events.

  • Camera offline: If your camera loses its Wi-Fi connection for several minutes, the Google Nest service will send a notification. There’s no way to manually turn off these alerts. If your camera continues to have difficulty connecting, you may need to troubleshoot the Wi-Fi connection.
  • Camera removed: If someone removes a camera from your account in the Nest app, the Nest service can send a notification.
  • Emergency clip available: If you have other Nest products in your home, they will tell your camera to turn on and start recording when something happens. The Nest service will always send an email when this happens. To learn how your camera can respond to different events around your home, see the article below:

Learn how Nest products work together

Intelligent activity alerts

In addition to standard alerts, Nest’s advanced algorithms can pick out certain objects and activities you’re more likely to care about, making the alerts you receive even more meaningful.

Note: Some of these types of alerts require a Nest Aware subscription and some are not available for all camera models. Learn more about alerts available for your Nest camera.

Familiar face alerts

With familiar face alerts¹, your camera uses advanced software that can tell the difference between a face you’ve told it to recognize and one you haven’t.

How to enable familiar face detection

To set up familiar face alerts, you’ll need a Nest Cam IQ or Nest Hello video doorbell, and a Nest Aware Subscription.

When you’re setting up your camera, you’ll be given the opportunity to enable familiar face detection. It’s turned off by default, but you can change the setting at any time.

  1. On the app home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  2. Tap Familiar faces.
  3. Tap Familiar face detection to turn on.
  • If you have multiple cameras with familiar face detection capability, tap Familiar face detection then select the cameras you want to detect familiar faces.

Note: To disable familiar face detection, repeat the steps above, and tap to turn off.

How to turn on notifications

When you’re sharing your Google Nest home through Family Accounts, each person can set their own preferences for alerts. After you’ve enabled familiar face detection, you can choose which types of alerts you receive when your camera notices a face.

  1. On the app home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  2. Tap Notifications.
  3. Select the camera that you want notifications for.
  4. Turn notifications for People on.

¹ Nest’s familiar face detection feature is not available on Nest cameras used in Illinois. Certain state legislation may affect Illinois customers’ use of the feature, so we’ve disabled it as a precaution. If the home where you’re using your camera is in Illinois, you shouldn’t be able to turn on familiar face detection in the Nest app.

Use familiar face detection in compliance with the law. Depending on where you live, you might need to get consent to have your camera help identify people visiting your home.

Note: If your camera can’t see someone’s face clearly, but it can still tell there’s a person in view, it will send a Person Seen alert. That way, you’re less likely to miss a person, even if their face is not in view.

Learn more about familiar face detection 

Intelligent sound alerts

Nest Aware’s powerful algorithms let your camera tell the difference between certain sounds it picks up throughout the day.

Note: Nest Hello doesn’t provide notifications for person talking or dog barking.

  • Person talking: Nest’s algorithms can determine whether someone near the camera is speaking and send an alert.

  • Dog barking: Nest’s algorithms can detect the sound of your pet barking and let you know.

Package alerts for Hello

If you have a Hello in the US with a Nest Aware subscription, you can get alerts when packages are dropped off or picked up within Hello’s view. Like other alerts, package alerts work with Activity Zones and can be seen in Sightline and event history.

Package alerts for Nest Hello

Activity Zone alerts

Nest Aware subscription is required to set up and use Activity Zones.

With Activity Zones you can select up to 4 custom areas in your camera’s view and only receive alerts about important activity. This is particularly helpful if you’re receiving too many alerts from lots of motion throughout your camera’s view.

To help you get started, all Nest cameras (except Hello) will automatically identify a door that’s in view, set an Activity Zone for the door, and offer to send alerts for activity it spots there.

Activity Zone alerts are like standard motion alerts, except the notification tells you a specific area or zone where activity occurred. You can turn alerts for each zone on or off independently of each other.

How to set up and use Activity Zones

To turn on Activity Zone alerts

  1. On the app home screen, tap Settings .
  2. Select Notifications.
  3. Select the camera that you want to get Activity Zone alerts from.

Note: The selected camera must have a Nest Aware subscription in order to see this option.

  1. Pick the zone that you want to get alerts for or select Motion outside of a zone to get alerts occurring outside of activity zones.
  2. Select People or All other motion or both to receive alerts. For Hello, you can also select Packages to receive alerts when packages are delivered or retrieved.

Important: 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. 

Snapshots in email notifications

If you choose to get notifications sent to your email address, the email will include a snapshot image of the activity your camera spotted. You can download these snapshots to your phone or your computer’s hard drive.

Some email providers automatically downsize images in order to save data. This means you might see a low-resolution or blurry version of the snapshot, even when Nest sends you a high-resolution version. Check with your email provider to learn how to download an image from your email.

Troubleshoot notifications

If you’re not receiving app notifications or emails after they’ve been turned on, try the troubleshooting tips in the following article:

Troubleshoot notifications and emails from Nest

Note: If you remove one of your cameras from your Nest home and want to add it back later, then you’ll need to set up its alerts again.

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