This Google+ Hangouts tutorial is intended for people who have a Google+ account and who want to know more about Hangouts; especially video Hangouts. As mentioned in our last Tip about Google, Introduction to Google Plus, a Hangout is an online meeting place. There are basically four kinds of Hangouts:
- New Hangout. This lets you connect with one or more of your friends or Groups, initially opening a pop-up chat window.
- Group Hangout. If you don’t choose a Group in a New Hangout, you’ll see an icon with a Plus beside it in the pop-up window. Click it to invite more people to your Hangout.
- Video Hangout. In the New Hangout pop-up window, click the video camera icon to start a Video call. (You will have to install the Hangouts Plugin the first time you do this.)
- Hangouts On Air. Click Hangouts from the main Google+ menu. Once the page loads you’ll see a menu across the top of the screen. Choose Hangouts On Air. From the next screen, Live Hangouts On Air, choose Start a Hangout On Air. If you haven’t done so, you will need to connect your YouTube account to Google+. Follow the prompts. (Hangouts On Air are archived by Google, as they’re linked to your YouTube account.)
Start a Hangout
Step 1: Once you’ve logged into and are on your Google+ page, click in the textbox that says New Hangout. Begin to type the name of a person or group you’d like to invite. Step 2: Assuming for the moment you only want to invite one person to your Hangout, click on the name of the person you want to invite. A Hangout window will pop-up. You can type in the chat textbox at the bottom of the screen. If your friend is not online at that moment, s/he will receive a message the moment s/he logs into Google. Step 3: Invite more people if you like, or keep chatting with your friend.
Create a Video Hangout
Step 1: If you’ve followed the steps above to create a Hangout, you can easily turn it into a video Hangout by clicking the video camera icon in the chat window. Step 2: [OPTIONAL] If you have not installed the plugin, you will need to do so now. Step 3: Providing you have your video camera on (and mic on), in a few seconds you will see an image of your friend. Your image will appear as a small, live video icon, in the bottom right corner of the screen! If your friend’s not online, you will see your image in the main window.
Use Video Hangout Tools
There are a number of great features in a video Hangout window you can use to enhance, augment, or add to the value of the Hangout. There are two sets of tools available for you, everytime you hold your mouse over the live video image. One set is for your controls, and those affect things like the quality of the call, whether or not video and audio are on (yes, you can mute either or both), a choice to add more people into the call, and more. These tools appear above the live video image. The second set of tools/icons appear to the left of the video image, and allow you enhance the call in many ways, including:
- Opening a Chat window, so you can text/chat to your friend(s)
- Capturing (taking a picture of) your screen, so you can share that with other callers
- Sharing a YouTube video with other callers
- Sharing your screen with other callers
Please remember, as mentioned in our earlier article on Google+, video Hangouts can take up some serious computer resources. When Pat Williams and I did our video Hangout call, in order to get higher resolution and smoother video, I closed everything else on my computer. The computer I used was a powerful 64-bit laptop, with tons of RAM, running Windows 7 Ultimate.