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Starting and Joining Hangouts

So you've joined Google+, you've managed somehow to find a few friends you want to try out some of these cool features that all the cool kids are talking about. Hangouts being one of the new features! I've made a wee FAQ (Frequently asked questions) for those folk that don't really know and haven't managed to ask yet.

So what is a hangout?

A hangout is Google+'s video conferencing chat... that might sound kinda techy and scary to those not in the know, but what that means that people can join in a little common area on Google plus and video-voice-type-chat. These can be opened publicly, just to certain circles or just to specific people you want to share to. And it's not just for the people on computers! If you have the app on Android or iPhone, you can join in the hangouts that are already happening on your stream!

What do I need to hangout?

Technically, you just need an internet connection and the ability to install the google talk plugin (it's super-easy to do, it'll ask you to install the first time you go on, click the button to install the plugin and follow the instructions on the screen), although it's recommended that you get a microphone, headphones (or a headset to combine the two) and a webcam. But they do have a chat facility on the side of the hangout. People like it to be able to see people as well as speak to them. Especially if it's a hangout filled with people that have cameras on.

If you're having problems with your camera or mic, pop into the cog icon for settings and make sure things are selected properly. If you can't hear sound in the hangout, then check you're plugged into your speakers/headset and that the volume is up, not just on the headset/speaker itself, but also the volume of the computer itself is turned on and up.

A handy tip is that by clicking the picture of the microphone or the camera, you can disable the mic or cam quickly and easily. Just click again to put it back on.

So what can I do on a hangout?

Well, this is where you can follow the conversation or get creative.
Some hangouts have names (those are on Hangouts called Hangouts with extras - we'll talk about them in a bit) Normally starting off with introducing yourself if you don't know people is a good way to go, but just like in polite society, it's not cool to interrupt, so my advice is to hold off till there's a lull in conversation or post a hello in the chat bar (On a hangout, there's a button at the bottom of the hangout called Chat, it'll bring up a chat pane... and there's a >> bar to the far left in Hangouts with extras if you can't already see a white chat bar pane on the left). Sometimes hangouts have a topic, sometimes they don't... I like to show off geeky plushies I've bought or if I'm in a girly hangout, the new beauty stuff I've been buying/given. Occasionally we've had hangouts where people perform music, do artwork live on hangouts and dance. I even managed to hangout from my birthday party on a mobile device!

What's the extras in Hangouts with Extras?

Well, it's the preview section for new features in Hangouts. You can name a hangout, share Google Docs with people in the hangout (if you're so inclined - if you want to learn about it -, you can share notes and use a common sketchpad - not just for fun, but could be used if you wanted to use hangouts for work with collegues... And you can screenshare, something that can become very handy if showing someone how to do something or letting someone see something on your screen. Just make sure that if you do screen share, you don't show off information you're not happy to share... like passwords. Don't do that.
To start a Hangout with Extras, you'll need to click the wee text link under the Hang out button on the 'Check your hair and make sure that your mic works! screen.

How do I start a hangout?

On a stream, (when you see what people are posting) there's a Start a hangout button on the right hand side.

How do I find hangouts to join

There are a few ways to find hangouts:

1. If someone's currently hanging out and they've shared the hangout with you, you will have a stream post that will say that the person is hanging out (and who with) and a button underneath to Join this hangout.
2. Over the right hand side of your streams, if you have any hangouts that are live, you'll have a clickable link to see however many Hangouts are live now! It'll fold out and allow you to join individual hangouts there.
3. By being directly given a URL to go hangout. Whether it be through an email, instant chat, a post URL or some other method... although don't click links from people you don't trust.
4. There are apps for Google Chrome browser that find hangouts and display your hangouts to other people. I can suggest or

So I've met a lot of my circled peeps on hangouts... and it's one of my favourite features on Google+... have you got a memory from a hangout like when everyone share-screened my picture on my birthday to make me hangout with multiple me's? (
Valentin Dobroia's profile photoDavid Gleason's profile photoScott LaVie's profile photoAnahi Peralta's profile photo
+Dolidh Young thanks for sharing your wisdom with others in the google+ community! oh and cool sticker ;)
nice Dolidh, TY for the hangout 101 class. i needed it. lol there is times when i can hear and see the hangout. but they cant see me. or they can see me but i cant see them but i can hear them.. do u have any suggestons in that situation? it can be frustrating.. i have a HP netbook .. im running xp 8 JoJo :)
Thanks DY. I've been working on getting my business coach onboard with Hangouts so I don't have to drive 90 minutes round trip to see her.
Thanks guys.

I know right +Yan Tseytlin! The stickers are spiffy! Thanks again :D

+JO JO LA Fratta can you record your voice in other programs? If not, I'd suggest looking to the manufacturer to get some answers. It may be that the drivers need updated (Go to and click the link to Support & Drivers) . If you search on google for the specific type of netbook you're using and following some of the links to find possible solutions.
If you can, then I'd suggest you go into the settings (it's a button that looks like a cog) and selecting another microphone source. It might just be picking up the wrong one by default. Hope that helped ^_^
+Bill Schubert Hangout's are brilliant that way :) I love being able to chat to people instantly like this ^_^
Love the birthday screen shot with multiple me's!
I don't know what I am doing wrong, but everytime I clicked on Hang Out button, nobody was ever there. So how do I talk to people or hang out with them?
wish it was there for android phones.. :(
+Valentina Interiors If you're having problems finding people to hang out with, try joining someone elses hangout... or you could try checking out - they always have a permanent hangout at the top of the page. If you're using Google Chrome browser, you can use the extensions I mentioned in the post to find hangouts :)

If you see me on (I try to hangout publicly at least once a week - even when I've not been well!) feel free to jump on :)
+Disha Patel It won't stop you hanging out, but to get the best experience, I'd advise to get one eventually... Hangout bigwigs like +Linda Dee hang out without a picture :D

+Karan Singh If your android has a front facing camera, you should be able to jump into hangouts.. but not start them. I'm sure I heard about a work-around method for phones without a front facing camera. I'd need to look that up.
I do have a front facing camera but the g+ app used to come with hangout which now is a messenger and can't really figure that out :-\
+Karan Singh Have a look on your stream on the phone for hangouts... that's how you can join them with a phone.
Thank you Dolidh, good suggestion, I will try it tonight.
Can I add a bit please... Press the spacebar to mute/de-mute the mic 
No option.. just three options.. :-(
Three tabs.. nearby, all circles and incoming
Ahhh, there needs to be a hangout running on one of the streams before you can join. 
:-\ sadly the android app for G+ sucks
Great stuff -- my head's spinning with the possibilities. One thing's unclear to me -- if I send a hangout invite link to a non-G+ user, will they be able to join? I realize they'll probably need to run that first-time install. We're on Gmail/GoogleApps at work and I know those accounts don't play well with G+, so I just open in another browser. Thanks DY.
Thanks +Dan Johnson, yes they would need to have a Google Account - but the lovely +Peter G McDermott has made a really simple to follow video on how to set up Google+. Check it out here, perfect for sending to people that aren't all that comfortable with setting up G+ by themselves >
The first time install that people need to run if they've already got an account is the google talk plug-in which you can donwload here > or install in the process of joining their first hangout (It'll pop up automatically).
can't start hangout from the phone, that is too bad!
It means you cannot start and have hangout from phone to phone....
But there is a way to it cause it is hidden. So you have to go to messenger then select the contact and then you can tap on the camera icon at the top to start hangout...
That's only for a hangout to other people on the messenger - it won't ask people who're on the computers +Mirko Zuna. You would need to share as a hangout from a normal PC, then join it on the mobile. I tested it out last week with +Moritz Tolxdorff ^_^
google won't recognise that my camera is plugged in, can somebody help me?
+casey hamilton, have you tried changing the camera that's feeding in? When you go to into a hangout, there's a cog on the top right hand side, click that and you can select where you're getting your camera feed in as well as control other aspects of your hangout like microphone and type of connection you have. :)
Make sure you've got the latest updates for your computer and check out to get the latest Google Talk plugin. ^_^
Hope that helps.
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