USING GOOGLE "VOICE AND VIDEO CHAT" & "HANGOUTS"
A Quick Help Sheet for ICS Users
– updated 20141015

PREREQUISITES

  • This document assumes a non-ancient Windows or Macintosh computer and a high speed internet connection. Google Hangouts has been used by the author on a 3 Ghz Pentium 4 Windows XP machine with 2GB of RAM. Recent Android tablets and cellphones are known to be capable, but have not been tested by the author. Up-to-date Chrome and Firefox browsers are known to work.
     
  • A Google account with Google+ enabled is required. Your organisation's email may already be under Google. If this is so, your technical support people may need to permit access to Google+ before you can enable it for your account with your organisation. Familiarity with using Google Mail and Chat (which is integrated into Google Mail) is highly recommended before attempting to use Hangouts for the first time.

CHECKLIST

  1. You have a Google account and are familiar with the Gmail and Chat facilities.

  2. To join or start a video chat with more than 2 participants, a "Hangout", you need to have enabled Google+. ("+YOU" at the top of your Google Mail window is the most obvious way to do this.)

  3. Make sure your machine and network connection are working well. (also see Step 2 below) Performance issues in your system can degrade voice and video quality for everyone.

  4. Make sure your face is well-lit and not made a silhouette by a brighter area behind you.

  5. Make sure that the room you are in is not noisy. Noise can play havoc with both the picture and sound for everyone not just you. Turn your speakers down as low as practical, or use headphones.

  6. Practice with friends or colleagues well in advance of any important meeting.

STEPS

  1. Install the Hangouts Plugin. Go to https://www.google.com/tools/dlpage/hangoutplugin and follow the instructions. (You only need to do this once, not each time.)

  2. Make sure your camera, microphone and headphones (or speakers) are all working. Sign in to your Google email. Select "Settings" (from the gear icon in the upper right area of the screen) then select the "Chat" tab. Under "Voice and Video Chat" select "Verify Your Settings".

  3. Return to your "Inbox" and wait for someone to send you a Chat request or an invitation to a Hangout, or send your own. It may be easiest to begin with a normal (text-only) Chat to make sure others are ready.