There is so much that virtual assistants like Google Home can do and so many operations it can be integrated with. In fact, there are already more than a million tasks you can accomplish using a Home device and a bevy of commands. But what are some of the most useful Google Home hacks and tasks your assistant can do on a daily basis to help you live your best life?
These tips, tricks and things to ask Google are primarily for the Google Home, Google Home Max and Google Nest Mini, Google's most popular smart speakers. There is a lot more you can do with Google's screened devices like Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max which could fit into an entirely separate article.
So without further ado, here are 23 Google Home hacks that will help make your life that much easier.
1. Watch videos and TV shows
If you have a Google Home and a Google Chromecast hooked to your TV on the same Wi-Fi network, you can ask your Home to play whatever you want to watch.
A number of streaming services are native to Google Home that work with your subscriptions to Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and more.
Just put together a long-string command like “Hey Google, watch the second scene of episode four of "The Flight Attendant" on HBOMax in my living room," and boom, Kaley Cuoco is on your television.
This Google Home hack works great for YouTube, as well. Want more cat videos in your life? Ask Google to play some and Sunday afternoon made.
2. Run your smart devices
In addition to your TV, you can use Google Home to run hundreds of other smart devices that connect seamlessly to your network including fridges and kitchen appliances, lights, locks, slow cookers, coffee makers, sprinklers, garage door openers, smoke alarms, security systems, Nest thermostats and Ring doorbells. Yell, “Hey Google, tell Roomba to vacuum the kitchen" and clean without even getting out of bed.
Certain automobile manufacturers have built-in technology that connects your car directly to your network. When you get up on a chilly morning, all you have to do is say, “Hey Google, start my car!" to get your vehicle warmed up and ready for you. This is also available as an aftermarket feature.
3. Set an alarm
No need to fumble with your phone's clock app to set an alarm to get up in the morning. Just say, “Hey Google, set an alarm for 7 a.m.," and a pleasant tone will gently wake you for the day.
This Google Home hack is also great for when you're cooking or as a reminder. Ask Google to set an alarm for 20 minutes, and you'll be notified when your soufflé is done or when the hockey game is about to start.
4. Get the news, weather and traffic
While you're making coffee or brushing your teeth in the morning, Google Home can get you ready for the day by reading you the day's news. On the Google Home app, you can choose your news sources from CNN to the BBC and categories like Business, Technology or Science, and then just say “Hey Google, what's the news?" and you'll get the top stories podcast-style.
And before you walk out the door, Home will give you the weather forecast in any format you wish. Your Home will understand questions like “What's the weather today?" “What's the temperature in Wichita on Sunday?" or “When will it rain?"
Need to know what the commute looks like as you head out to work or the airport? Ask Home how long it will take to get to your destination with live traffic, then have it send directions right to your phone.
5. Play music and audio
Thanks to built-in apps, your Google Home can play just about any music you want. Ask it to play some folk-rock and your device will play a Spotify mix based on your request.
Want to hear music based on an artist you like? Just say, “Hey Google, play Grouplove on Pandora," and you'll get a Pandora station of artists similar to your choice.
If you have a radio station you love, Home can play that, too, through its TuneIn Radio app. Ask for the station or stream's name like, “Hey Google, play WXPN" or “Hey Google, play Dublab." Love podcasts? Do the same with them by asking Google to play the latest episode of "Song Exploder" or request, "Add 'Mike on Much' to my favorite podcasts."
And if you want a bigger sound, just tell Google to play the music through your HDT V or connected smart speakers.
6. Make phone calls
Even some of the heaviest Google Home users don't know you can make phone calls right through your speaker. Ask Home to make a phone call to a specific person or number, and you're ringing them up.
Just be aware that since you're making a VoIP call over the internet, your cell phone number won't show up for the person on the other end unless they've added your Google IP number to their contacts or you've set up your Home's Caller ID.
7. Make a shopping list
If you're in your kitchen making dinner or packing your lunch and run out of an item, simply have your Home add it to your Google Shopping list. As you munch on that last stick of string cheese, just say, “Hey Google, add string cheese to my shopping list." Then, next time you're at the store, open your shopping list on your Google app and you'll know exactly what to pick up.
If you have an account and payment method already set up with stores like Target, PetSmart, Walgreen's or Whole Foods, your Home can even do the ordering for you and schedule delivery.
Once set up you can even just say, “Hey Google, order more fabric softener." Now it might be too easy to order those cute slippers you saw on Buzzfeed you totally don't need.
8. Make a to-do list
Your future self will thank you for using this Google Home hack. You can add any task or reminder to your to-do list. Create a checklist of what's coming up. Have your Home create a checklist of items for that big new work project. Digitize your weekend honey-do list. Going on vacation? Every time you think of something new you'll need to do for your trip, just ask, “Hey Google, add 'Buy travel deodorant' to my 'Trip To Memphis' to-do list."
As you can see, you can create a number of different to-do lists for different life projects. Add a reminder to have you check your to-do list and you'll never forget a thing again.
9. Run a routine
A convenient and underutilized function of Google Home is running a routine. Routines are a series of instructions Google Home can run based on a time of day or one command.
Set up a morning routine on your Home app, then every weekday at 7 a.m. your Home will play your alarm, start your smart coffee maker, tell you today's weather, read your schedule and tune your TV to “Morning Joe," or whatever commands you wish. You can even just say, “OK Google, tell me about my day," and you'll get everything you need to know in one dossier.
Tell it, “Hey Google, it's dinnertime," and your Home will notify everyone in the family to come to the table, pause the Wi-Fi, turn down your smart lights and play your family meal playlist on Spotify.
10. Broadcast messages
Many people have Google Homes all over their house or apartment. One in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in each bedroom and maybe even one on the porch or deck. But when all your multiple Google Homes are on the same Wi-Fi network, they become interconnected and can function as a “broadcast."
Want to transmit a message to everyone in your home? Just say something like, “Broadcast that the movie is starting," “Tell everyone I'm home" or “Announce that dinner's ready," and your Google Home will shout it from the rooftop. Or at least from every Home you own.
You don't even have to be at your house, either. You can use your phone's Google Assistant to broadcast to the Home in your house from anywhere, so you can tell everyone you're on your way or just say “Hi" to the cat.
11. Remember anything
Gone are the days of Post-it Notes and scrounging around for a pen. You'll never forget anything ever again (maybe) with this Google Home hack.
Always losing your keys? When you put them down, say, “Hey Google, remember that I put my spare keys in the porcelain pig." When you need to find them next time, just ask, “Hey Google, where are my spare keys?" and you'll be directed to the aforementioned porcine.
There are unlimited applications for the remember feature. Ask Google to remember the combination to your bike lock, where you hid the kids' Christmas presents or how much nutmeg goes in your grandma's apple pie recipe, and the answer will be on the tip of your tongue whenever you need it.
Don't remember what you asked Google to remember? Google's got you. Just query, "Hey Google, what have I told you to remember?"
12. Find your phone
Boy, we're a forgetful bunch. What did we do before Google Home? If you're always losing track of your phone, Google can help you locate it. Instead of digging through the couch cushions, simply inquire, “Hey Google, where's my phone?" and the Home detective is on the case.
Your device will give you the choice of sending a pleasant alarm to your phone or calling it. This function even works if your phone is on silent or do-not-disturb and even with multiple phones on the account. Once you find your phone, simply press the power button to let Google know you're good to go. Your reminders and messages can even be added right to your Google Keep notes app.
13. Get recommendations
It's dinnertime, and you and your spouse or roommate want to find somewhere to eat. Your Google Home can help with that. Just figure out what you're looking for, and Google will give you some great recommendations. You can ask it nearly any combination of variables and you'll get a quick list of places to eat, from “What are the best pizza places near me?" to “Tell me the most popular cheesesteak shops in Philadelphia" to “Where can I get a beer?"
And once you pick one from the list, your Home will give you the Google review rating, tell you the address and send directions to your phone. Need to make reservations or order curbside? Ask Home to grab you a seat with OpenTable, order delivery through Grubhub or snag a ride to pick up by saying, “OK Google, order an Uber." Google will even call the restaurant for you if you want to speak to a human.
14. Order pizza
Who needs to stop with just asking for directions to the restaurant? You can order food right from your Google Home. Tell your Home, “Hey Google, let me talk to Dominos," and it will connect you right to “Dom, Dominos Ordering Assistant Bot."
The bot will walk you through connecting your Dominoes account. Then you can place a brand new order right through your speaker and track it as it's being made and delivered without ever picking up a phone.
15. Check your schedule
What's more important in an assistant than keeping track of your schedule? Your Google Home happens to be great at it. Google Home dips right into your Google Calendar, as well as any other connected calendar, to stay up to date on all your upcoming activities.
As you're heading out the door, you can query, “Hey Google, what's my schedule today?" Or, if your day is a little hectic, you can ask, “When is my next appointment?" And if you're trying to see what your future looks like, simply say, “What am I doing next week?"
Need to add a last-minute meeting while you're getting dressed? You can schedule a calendar event through your Home, too. Tell it, “Add a meeting with Julie on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. to my calendar," and boom, there it is.
16. Be the next Alton Brown or Guy Fieri
Who needs to order delivery when you can make television-quality dinners right at home? Let's say you're sitting around watching Food Network and Giada De Laurentiis is making a killer Bolognese. Maybe you want to try making it yourself?
Just say, “Hey Google, ask Food Network to send me the recipe on TV right now." If you're watching live, your device will send you the recipe for whatever is currently playing on the channel in your time zone. Or it can be sent right to your Gmail.
Neither Giada nor Google guarantee that yours will taste as good as hers.
17. Listen to audiobooks
It's 2021, who needs to read anyway? We've come a long way from “books on tape." Today, audiobooks are pervasive and acceptable to the point where Hollywood A-list celebrities are lending their voices to read the newest novels. Just like listening to music, you can also listen to books through your Google Home.
At the moment, Home doesn't support Audible (the most popular audiobook app) or vice versa. But there is a workaround. From your Android phone or tablet, simply click the “cast" icon, select your Home speaker and open the Audible app and play. Or you can just select books from Google Play Books, which your Home will connect to natively.
18. Stay healthy
Being and staying healthy is even easier with a smart speaker. Feeling under the weather? An ache in a place you don't normally ache? Just ask your Google Home to access WebMD to assess your symptoms. Tell it how you're feeling and what doesn't feel right and Dr. Home will tell you what might be the issue. You can also as it about specific medications and it will tell you what they are used for and what side effects you may expect.
But you're not the only one you want to keep safe. Before you feed your pupper leftovers or let them chomp down on what you drop while cooking dinner, ask Dr. Doggy. Simply say, “Hey Google, ask Dr. Doggy if it's safe for my dog to eat grapes." (In fact, it is not.)
19. Set quiet hours
During the day, the volume on your Google Home is set to normal daytime levels. But at night (or in the early morning), you don't want your speaker shouting at you. Luckily, you don't have to keep turning the volume up and down all day because you can simply set your Home's “Night Mode."
Through your Home app, you can set specific hours and days for Night Mode to automatically turn on and off. This will not only lower its volume to quiet-time levels but will also dim the device's lights so it is not peering at you in the darkness.
20. Read your kid more than a story
This hack from Google Home has you covered when your kids are tired of mommy and daddy's versions of their favorite bedtime stories.
“The Lion King," “Mulan" and “Toy Story 3" are just a few of the books that your Home can help you read along with to your kid. Or to yourself! Just say, “Hey Google, let's read along with Disney" and unlock some really cool enhancements from Little Golden Books. Google will listen to you read a selection of bedtime stories and add sound effects and relevant music to your performance. Need to skip over a scary section? Google will recognize it and skip along with you. Have to take a break? It will play an ambient music score while you wait.
Want to be more hands-off? Just request, “OK Google, tell me a Frozen story." Home will ask your child (or you, we're not judging) which character they'd like to hear a story from and then it will play a tale from the “Frozen" universe.
And if you're away or stuck at the office and can't read the kids a bedtime story, Google Home has you covered. With the StoryTime feature, Home will allow you to record your child's favorite bedtime story in your voice for them to listen to on command whenever they want as if you were there by stating, “Hey Google, talk to My Storytime."
21. Be bilingual
Google Home may be a native English-speaking speaker, but that's not the only language it knows. Not only is Google available all over the world, but 20 percent of Americans speak something other than English at home. That's why Google Home is available in nearly 30 languages.
Just add a second (or third or more) language in the Google Home app and start talking. You can even switch back and forth on the fly. Speak to it in any supported language and it will respond in kind.
Is English your only language? No problem. Google will translate anything you need to know for you. Just choose any word or phrase and ask it to translate into your needed language. Or start Google's “interpreter mode" by telling it, “OK Google, I need an interpreter in…" and request the language.
22. Trigger quick commands
There are a number of commands you give to your Google Home to perform all kinds of functions. These are some things to ask Google Home. Try saying…
- “Hey Google, say that again" to repeat the last response or “Hey Google, can you repeat that more slowly?" if the information came at you way too fast.
- “Hey Google, change voice" to permanently switch to a male voice, a different female voice or a voice with a different accent.
- “OK Google, play white noise" or “Ok Google, play forest sounds" to get some atmosphere to fall asleep to.
- “OK Google, tune my instrument" or "Ok Google, play an F sharp" for some hands-free tuning help.
- “Hey Google, let me talk to 21 Blackjack" and gamble your virtual life savings away.
- "OK Google, open the magic door" to hear an interactive Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style story.
- "Hey Google, talk to Sassy Girl" to start a fun conversation with a sassy A.I.
- "Ok Google, tell me something good" and your Home will rattle off snippets of some feel-good news and uplifting anecdotes.
Tired of calling out “Hey Google" or “OK Google?" Your Home will also answer to, “Hey Boo Boo."
23. Find Easter Eggs
There are a lot of little fun Google Home hacks and commands the folks at Google (with some assistance from Pixar and "The Onion") have hidden for you to find. Try these Easter Eggs and you'll be surprised by some of your assistant's answers.
- “Hey Google, beatbox."
- “OK Google, sing a song."
- “OK Google, are you Skynet?"
- “Hey Google, Hodor."
- “OK Google, I'm feeling lucky."
- “Hey Google, what would Brian Boitano do?"
- “Hey Google, read a poem."
- “OK Google, wubba lubba dub dub."
- “Hey Google, tea. Earl Grey. Hot."
- “OK Google, surely you can't be serious."
- “OK Google, tell me a joke."
- “Hey Google, inconceivable!"
- “Hey Google, up, up, down, down, left, right, B, A."
And if you curse out your Google Home, it will know you aren't happy and ask if you want to submit a bug report.
What Google home hacks have you found?
Did we forget something? Tell us about your favorite hacks for Google Home in the comments!