Google+ Hangouts: The complete how-to

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Starting a Hangout


If you've peeked at the right side of any of your stream pages, you've seen a yellow icon and a button inviting you to "Start a hangout."


Creating a hangout is a lot like writing a post in terms of how you create and share it. You can click the "Start a hangout" button on any stream page, but the simplest thing to do is head to the stream page for the circle that includes the people you want to hang out with and then click the button. That way, the people in that circle will see your hangout in their streams. But if it's more convenient, you can click the "Start a hangout" button anywhere it appears and then adjust the hangout's sharing settings later.


Checking Your Setup

After you click "Start a hangout" and your web browser checks to make sure you have the required plug-in installed, a new browser window pops up. The window includes a little motherly advice: check how you look and make sure people can hear you.


If you're using a laptop with a built-in webcam, Google+ should be able to automatically connect to it and show you what you'll look like to other people in the hangout. If your webcam is separate from your computer, you can plug it in while this setup screen is up; if video from the camera doesn't show up on your screen, try closing the setup screen and then clicking "Start a hangout" again. If that doesn't work, keep reading this section to learn how to troubleshoot it.

The setup screen is small, but it shows what kind of lighting you're got, how your face will be framed when it shows up in the hangout -- and whether you need to give your hair a quick finger brushing. Your image will show up much larger when you're actually in the hangout, so try to look your best (or at least presentable).

Next, test your microphone. If your computer has one built in, you can use that, or you can connect one to your computer with a USB cable or microphone jack. To make sure it's working, simply say something in a normal voice, like you'd talk to your friends, and watch the volume bars next to the microphone icon at the bottom of the setup screen. If you see at least half of them turn green when you're talking, you're good to go. If only one bar turns green or all the bars do, you're too far away from or too close to your mic.

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