Start a video call on your computer
To start a video call on your computer, check that you have all of the equipment, software, or plugins you need
Before you start your first video call
- Check the system requirements for Hangouts.
- Make sure you have the latest software for your webcam.
- For the best video quality, put a light source behind your camera so you're well-lit. Webcams don't work well in low-light situations.
- Connect a headset. For the best quality audio for your call, we recommend using a headset with a built-in microphone.
- Download and install the latest version of the Hangouts plugin.
If you're using a Chrome browser, you don't need a Hangouts plugin. But you do need to allow Hangouts to access your computer's microphone and camera so that you can start a video call.
If your company uses Google Apps, you may still need to download and install the latest version of the Hangouts plugin to make video calls using Chrome.
- When you try to start a video call for the first time, you'll see a message underneath the address bar asking for permission to access your computer's microphone and camera.
- Click Allow. You only need to do this once. The Chrome browser will remember your choice for future Hangouts.
- Red circle in the address bar of the Chrome browser: This means the browser's tab is using your microphone and camera. It also means that you're in a Hangouts video call without having the plugin downloaded to your computer.
- Video camera icon in the address bar of the Chrome browser: This means that you've allowed the website you're on to use your camera and mic, but it may not actually be using it.
If you deny access the first time but want to allow it later, you can change the setting during a video call:
- In the video call, go to the address bar in the Chrome browser.
- Click the camera icon with the X .
- Click Always allow plus.google.com to access your camera and microphone.
- Click Done.
- Click Reload.
- When you try to start a video call for the first time with the updated Firefox browser, you'll see an error message underneath the address bar.
- To the left of the address bar, click the gray block icon .
- To run the Google Talk plugins for the video call, click Activate.
- Choose from these options for the Google Talk and the Google Talk Video Renderer plugin:
- Activate now: Allow the plugin to work for this video call.
- Always activate: Allow the plugin to work for this video call and for future video calls.
- Never activate: Block the plugin from working.
Unblock the plugin: From the Firefox menu, click Add-ons > Plug-ins > scroll to Google Talk Plugin and Google Talk Plugin Video Renderer > choose Always activate.
- When you try to start a video call for the first time with the updated Safari browser, you'll see an error message.
- The message will ask if you want to trust the Google website to run the Google Talk plugins for the video call. Click Trust to allow it. If you click Not now, you can install it at another time.
- If you do want to install it later, in Safari, go to Preferences > Security > Manage website settings > Choose each of the Google Talk plugins > Click Allow.
Unblock the plugin: In Safari, go to Preferences > Security > Manage website settings > Choose each of the Google Talk plugins > Click Allow.
Start a video call
- Open Hangouts in Gmail or Google+.
- Gmail: In the bottom-left corner, click on the Hangouts icon .
- Google+: In the top-right corner, click on the Hangouts icon .
- Select a person from the Hangouts list. Or click the search button and type a name or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name.
- If you want to start a group video call, check the boxes in front of multiple people's names.
- Click the video icon .
Other settings for video callsBookmark your video call link
Whenever you start a video call, you can save the direct link to share with contacts or start a call again at any time in the future.
- Go to your video call window.
- At the bottom of the video call window, click the box with the sharing link.
- To copy the link, click Command + C (Mac keyboards) or Control + C (PCs and Chromebooks).
- Paste the link in an email, chat window, or anywhere else that you want to save or share the video call information. To paste the link, type Command + V (Mac keyboards) or Control + V (PCs and Chromebooks)
Keep in mind that when you start another video call with a bookmarked link, your settings won't be saved, for example, if you ignored someone. You'll need to change your settings for each video call.
Anyone in the Hangout can add more people after the video call starts.
- Click the invite people button at the top of the video call window.
- Type someone's name or the name of a circle.
- Click Add people to send the notifications to the people you chose.
You can invite as many people as you want to join a Hangout but you can't have more than 9 other people in a Hangout at a time. If more people try to enter, they'll be told the Hangout is currently full. But you can also broadcast to more than 9 other people using Hangouts On Air.
Video calls are available in full-screen view. You can change your video call options and use apps during the Hangout:
- Toolbar: To view video call options, like muting sound and turning off the video feed during the video call, move your mouse to the top center of the screen.
- Apps: To view apps, like sharing your desktop during the video call, move your mouse to the left side of the screen.
Caroline is a Hangouts expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.