7 Easy Google Hangout Tips

by Justin Gale


Tip #1 Collapse the Apps Bar to get more screen space!

Get more room for docs or video on your hangout by collapsing the apps bar on the left…

Simply click the 3 little bars in the top left corner:  

And turn this large Apps bar:                                 Into this small Apps bar:


Tip #1 Collapse the Apps Bar to get more screen space! (CONTINUED)

Please note, there are times, when showing the expanded Apps list can give you additional information such as who on the call has added certain apps to their session to be able to use/view them (this is not an indicator of them actively using these apps, just that they could easily use them in the hangout with a simple click!)

Tip #2 Limit Your Bandwidth if others say your audio or video is not smooth!

If you are in an hangout, and people say your voice audio cuts in and out, or your video is choppy, then you might need to limit your bandwidth.  If someone else in your hangout is not presenting smoothly, then they might need to limit their hangout bandwidth.  It is very quick and easy to do.

The default setting is Auto:                        Slide it towards the left if choppy:


Or, if your system/device supports HD, you may need to reduce or downgrade from HD video to normal settings:

The HD default setting is Auto:                Slide it towards the left if choppy:


Tip #3 Stop Hangouts from constantly switching between talking participants
(For Hangouts with 3 or more people)

Have you ever been on a Hangout with three or more people, and been bothered by the video display keeps jumping to whatever person is talking?  You can easily stop (and restart) this by simply setting the focus (clicking) on any person’s picture in the list at the bottom of the screen in the hangout, or clicking on any the Google Drive App (In the Hangout).  To go back to the auto-switching, click on the same person again from the visual list of attendees at the bottom, or click on anyone twice -- once to set focus, and again to release the focus!

To toggle auto-switching speakers, click the person to set focus, or click again, to return to the auto-switching:


Tip #4 How to Share your entire desktop in a Hangout

Google was kind enough to give a Screenshare option , but confused users by not telling them that if they want to share their desktop with people, choose the option for Fullscreen (then click Start Screenshare), if you pick anything else, you are only sharing that with people on the hangout, and if you want to share something else, you have to come back to the hangout, close the screenshare, then open it again, and pick something else.

(Note, if have set your own video as the main focus, your screen will look very strange when you first share it, as it gives an “Infinity Mirror” image)

Tip #5 Switching between different Google Docs in a Hangout

Google Docs can be shared as part of a Hangout.  This lets you have the doc(s) on the screen while still having the webcams. Note that each participant must click on the Drive App in the Hangout then select the same document to see the real-time collaboration themselves.

To change the doc that you are working on, simply click on the other document that you want to view and your display should change…

Click here:                                        To change to this other doc:


Tip #6 Adding/Sharing Another Google Doc in a Hangout

Sometimes while on a hangout, you may want to collaborate on a document you did not yet collaborate on.  At anytime, you can add Google docs to the hangout.

Click Expand Sidebar, then Add to choose additional Google Doc files to bring into the Hangout.5) Adding multiple Google Docs

Click the Arrow to

Expand sidebar:                                Click the ADD button to add Google Docs


Tip #7 Zoom Out to Improve Google Hangout Screen Sharing.

(Go Full Screen, and Zoom Out -- not In to better view a shared screen in Google Hangouts)

This important tip should help with screen-sharing in Google Hangouts not being clear enough to view detailed spreadsheets or other “fine print” documents. Until Google improves the video codec, and provides us with better screen sharing, this seems to be the easiest/best “Google” solution. Note this is for Windows computers running Chrome, but these tips can be applied to Mac and Chromebooks/Chromeboxes too.

PERSON SHARING: Share just the screen you want/need, doing the Fullscreen option gives extra stuff (like the Windows Start Bar) for your VIEWERS that they probably do not need to see, and we want to give them the best viewing experience. When sharing detailed or small print documents, you will give your collaborators a better view if you SHARE ONLY THE APP, DO NOT SHARE Fullscreen.  When you are done sharing your screen, go back to the hangout and click on the screen sharing icon to return to “webcam” mode.

PERSON(S) VIEWING: First, collapse the Apps bar (Tip #1 above) on the left side of the hangout (small icons work just fine). Second, press the F11 key on your keyboard to make the hangout window go full-screen. Third, press CTRL and the MINUS (-) key a few times to get your zoom level to something between 60% and 20% or whatever gives you the biggest image. If you go too far, you can zoom the other way with CTRL and PLUS (+). You may have to wait a second or two then while it dithers/clears up the image. When all done, remember to reset your browser zoom level to 100% (Press CTRL and ZERO)

Please see below for a visual comparison of the difference in the viewing experience one can have by following these tips!

Tip #7 Zoom Out to Improve Google Hangout Screen Sharing.  (CONTINUED)

Zoom Tip - Visual Comparison of the difference:

Before collapsing bars, before switching to fullscreen, and before zooming out:

After collapsing Apps bars, after switching to browser full screen, and after zooming out: