Google Hangouts: Getting Started with Google Hangouts

Lesson 1: Getting Started with Google Hangouts

Getting started with Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a free service from Google that allows you to talk to family and friends on your computer or mobile device. You can even talk to each other live over video chat and use Hangouts to make phone calls and texts. It's available on its website, as an app for iOS and Android, and as a plug-in for various web browsers.

Alert! Google Hangouts will be discontinued by the end of 2021. If you are currently using Google Hangouts, you will be asked to upgrade to Google Chat. For more information, you can check out Google's timeline.

Watch this video from Google to learn more about Google Hangouts.

As with most of Google's services, almost all of Google Hangouts is completely free to use. However, using Google Hangouts to call a phone number outside of the United States and Canada does have a cost-per-minute rate. You can use this international calling rate calculator provided by Google to estimate how much a phone call might cost.

Before you start using Hangouts, there are a few steps you'll need to take. First, you'll need to make sure you have a Google account. If you don't have one, you can review our lesson on creating a Google account to get started.

Accessing Google Hangouts

After signing in with your Google account, you'll need to open Hangouts itself. Google Hangouts is available on a variety of platforms and devices. Below, we've listed the ways to access and open it.

  • Simply visit the Google Hangouts website and sign in using your Google account. This is the interface we'll mainly be focusing on throughout this lesson.
  • Gmail: Google Hangouts is included and turned on in Gmail by default. It's located at the bottom-left of the Gmail page.
    Google Hangouts pane in Gmail
  • The Google Hangouts desktop app or extension: In the Chrome Web Store, you can download an app or extension for Google Hangouts. You will need to use Google Chrome as your browser in order to download either. They're almost identical, and both open a new window for Hangouts from your browser.

    using the Google Hangouts Chrome app to chat

  • The Google Hangouts mobile app: Available for both iOS and Android, the Google Hangouts app allows you to chat and make video calls on the go.
    Google Hangouts mobile app

The Google Hangouts interface

When you first open Google Hangouts, things will look pretty empty, but that's only because you haven't chatted with anyone yet. The interface is relatively easy to use and gives you access to all kinds of things, including your contact list, recent conversations, and settings.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to become more familiar with the Google Hangouts interface.

edit hotspotsGoogle Hangouts interface interactive