Learn about camera alerts and how to change settings

Camera alerts are notifications that you receive on your phone or tablet when your Google Nest camera detects important activity.

Important things to know

  • You must use the Nest app to receive camera alerts and change notification settings for your camera, even if you use Nest cameras in the Home app.

  • The notification options that you see depend on the type of camera that you have and on whether you’re subscribed to Nest Aware.

  • You can choose to receive notifications for everything that your camera detects, or choose only certain types of activity. You can receive a push notification on your phone or tablet, receive an email or both.

  •  You need to set up alerts for each camera in your home separately.

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

Here's how to choose when your camera sends alerts and the different Activity Alerts that you can receive.

Set up camera alerts

  1. Open the Nest app.
  2. On the app's home screen, tap Settings Nest settings icon.
  3. Select Notifications.
  4. 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 pop up on your phone, just like alerts from other apps. You can receive notifications provided that you’re signed into the Nest app.
    Note: Closing the Nest app doesn’t sign you out. You can continue to receive notifications even if the Nest app is closed.
  • Email
    Alerts are sent from notifications@nest.com to the email address that you use to sign into your account in the Nest app. You can receive emails whether or not you’re signed into the Nest app.

When to send

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

Activity types

You can select all activities or a 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 or Nest Hello, or a Nest Aware subscription for a non-IQ camera, person alerts can let you know when your camera sees or hears 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 that your camera spotted.

Note: Nest Hello doesn’t 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 sounds that are made 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.

Intelligent Activity Alerts

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

The following alerts require a Nest Aware subscription and some are not available for all camera models. Learn more about what you get with a Nest Aware subscription.

Familiar face alerts

  • With familiar face detection¹, your Nest Cam IQ, Nest Hello or Nest Hub Max uses advanced software that can tell the difference between a face that you’ve told it to recognise and one that you haven’t.

  • You can turn on familiar face detection and manage your library in both the Nest app and the Home app.

  • Once familiar face detection is turned on, you can turn on People notifications in the Nest app to receive familiar face alerts when your camera spots a familiar or unfamiliar face.

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

¹Nest’s familiar face detection feature is not available on Nest cameras used in Illinois.

Activity Zone alerts

  • With Nest Aware, you can create up to four Activity Zones for each camera in the Nest app, and choose the type of motion that you want to be notified of for each zone. This is helpful if you’re receiving too many alerts from motion throughout your camera’s view.

  • You cannot create Activity Zones in the Home app. However, if you use both the Nest app and Home app for your Nest camera, Activity Zones that you set up in the Nest app will be visible in the Home app.

  • When you receive an Activity Zone alert from the Nest app, it tells you the specific zone where activity occurred. In addition, the event saved in the Nest app’s event history and the Home app’s feed will also tell you the specific zone where it occurred.

  • You can turn alerts for each Activity Zone on or off independently of each other.

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

Set up and use Activity Zones

Turn on Activity Zone alerts

  1. Open the Nest app.

  2. Tap Settings .

  3. Select Notifications.

  4. Select the camera that you want to receive Activity Zone alerts from.

  5. Pick the zone that you want to receive alerts for or select Motion outside of a zone to receive alerts for motion that occurs outside of Activity Zones.

  6. Select People or All other motion or both to receive alerts.

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

Intelligent sound alerts

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

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

Parcel alerts for Hello

If you have a Hello with a Nest Aware subscription, you can receive alerts when parcels are dropped off or picked up within Hello’s view.

Like other alerts, parcel alerts work with Activity Zones and can be seen in the Nest app's Sightline and event history. Parcel events can also be seen in the Home app's feed and history.

Parcel alerts for Nest Hello 

Other alerts

You can’t see these alert options in the Notifications 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 Nest service sends a notification. There’s no way to manually turn off these alerts. If your camera continues to have connection issues, 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 sends a notification.

  • Emergency clip available: If you have other Nest products in your home, they can tell your camera to turn on and start recording when something happens. The Nest service always sends an email when this happens. To learn how your camera can respond to different events around your home, go to our Learn how Nest products work together article.

Snapshots in email notifications

If you choose to have notifications sent to your email address, the email should include a snapshot image of the activity that 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 that you might see a low-resolution or blurred version of the snapshot, even when Nest has sent you a high-resolution version. Check with your email provider to learn how to download an image from your email.

Troubleshoot notifications

If you don’t receive app notifications or emails after they’ve been turned on, try to 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 will need to set up its alerts again.

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