Start a video call
To start a video call, you'll need to 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 mic and camera so that you can start a video call.
- 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 mic 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 mic 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 on it.
- 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 .
- A message will ask if you'd like to allow the Google Talk plugins to run for the video call. Click Allow.
- Choose from the three options below for the Google Talk and the Google Talk Video Renderer plugin:
- Allow now: Allow the plugin to work for this video call.
- Allow now and remember: Allow the plugin to work for this video call and for future video calls.
- Block plugin: Block the plugin from working.
- 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.
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 and click the video icon to start a video call.
- Click the video icon .
Bookmark 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.
Add people after the video call has started
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.
Things to keep in mind for a video call
- Anyone with a Google Account can join a video call.
- In these cases, you need a Google+ account along with a Google Account:
- To join a group video call that you're not invited to. You'll need a Google+ account to join a video Hangout in Google+ or to join a video call that you haven't been invited to but have access because someone shared the link with you.
- To access apps in group video calls, such as the Q&A or Showcase apps. You can still share your screen and use group chat within the group video call without a Google+ account.
Change settings and use apps during the video call
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.