A complete guide to Google Home

By Mike Atherton 15 Jul 2018
Guide to Google Home

This guide will help you get to grips with everything you can do with Google Home. Whether you’ve just picked up a Google Home speaker to see what it can do, or you want to build the ultimate smart home - here’s everything you need to know.

What is Google Home?


Google Home is a ‘smart hub’ that connects all of your smart kit together. A Google Home setup usually starts with a speaker, this might be the Google Home Mini, or the larger Google Home speaker.

Your hub then connects to other smart devices in your home like your TV, speakers, lighting, heating, or security systems. When everything’s connected, you just need to talk to your speaker to control your kit without lifting a finger. To watch your favourite TV shows, just say “OK Google, watch Stranger Things on Netflix”, or listen to music by saying “OK Google, play my chillout playlist on Spotify”.

You can get answers to all sorts of questions, it’ll help you organise your calendar and you can set alarms and timers. So let’s take a look at what Google Home can do in more detail.

How do I set it up?


Setting up your Google Home is easy, just plug your Google Home speaker in and download the app to your phone or tablet, then follow a few short steps to get set up. Take a look at our full Google Home setup guide here.

How does it work?


When you’re within range of the speaker, just say “OK Google”, or “Hey Google”, followed by a command, and your speaker will listen to your request and leap into action. Your speaker is always listening for the ‘wake up phrase’ so you don’t need to press anything to activate it.

When you ask for an answer to a question, like “OK Google, what’s the weather like tomorrow?”, it’ll search the internet and give you the answer straight away.

If you want Google to complete a task like switching your lights on, say “OK Google, turn on the living room lights”, and Google will obey.

Before Google can control other smart kit, you’ll need to make sure the device has been added to your home network and linked to your Google Home account.

What can you control with Google Home?


Google Home works with all sorts of kit and you can even tell Google which room your device is in. Here are some of the most popular smart things you can control using Google Home.


This is one of the most common starting points for building your smart home. You can do much more than just turn your lights on or off - you can also dim, or brighten them, and even change the colour.


If you have a smart heating system like Nest or Hive, you’ll be able to control it using your Google Assistant. Just say “OK Google”, then “Set the living room thermostat to 22”, or “Lower the temperature 2 degrees”.

Switches and plugs

As well as controlling your smart kit, you can also turn non-smart devices on and off using smart plugs or switches. Once you’ve connected your smart plug to your Wi-Fi and given it a name, you can use your Google Assistant to turn things on or off.

Security Cameras

There are plenty of smart security systems to choose from and most of them work with Google Home. Whether it’s a NEST Video Doorbell, or a full home security system that monitors every inch of your home, these can be really useful for keeping an eye on what’s going on. When you hear the doorbell, just say “OK Google, show me who’s at the door”.

Using voice commands


Your Google assistant recognises all sorts of different kinds of requests, whether it’s a quick question, or something more complex.

General questions

If you just want a quick answer to a question, Google is very good at understanding what you want no matter how you ask. If you just want to know what time your local supermarket closes, there are different ways to get the same answer, these two questions should both give you the answer you want.

“OK Google, what time does my local Tesco close today?”

“Hey Google, when is my nearest Tesco open till?”

Your Google Assistant can be a great help when you’ve got your hands full too. If you’re cooking for example and need to set a timer, just say “Hey Google, set a timer for 20 minutes”, and an alarm will sound when the time’s up.

There’s loads more that Google can help with, take a look at other types of questions you can ask here.

Using Google Home with other services

There are plenty of services that your Google Assistant can control for you, like music and movie streaming, news, podcasts, or audiobooks.

When you ask for Google to play something for you, you’ll need to be fairly specific with your request. Just remember, you’re not asking Google to play it for you, you’re asking Google to ask the other service to play it for you.

So if you use Spotify for example, and you want to listen to some Pink Floyd on your ‘Living Room’ smart speaker, you’ll need to say “OK Google, play Pink Floyd on Spotify in the Living Room”.

Watching TV shows on a streaming service like Netflix works in the same way. If you want to catch up on the latest episode of Peaky Blinders using Netflix through your Chromecast, you’ll need to say “OK Google, play Peaky Blinders on Netflix on my Chromecast”

There are loads more things you can get your Google Assistant to help with, take a look at Google’s full list of features here.

Hopefully, that’s helped you understand a bit more about what you can do with Google Home. If you’d like help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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