11 Ways To Avoid Technical Glitches With Google Hangouts

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It used to be the case that Skype was the defacto app, if you wanted to have group video chats. But ever since Google introduced Hangouts, they have been steadily chipping away at Skype’s dominance.

The only thing plaguing Hangouts seems to be the technical glitches that seem to befall users. So how can you avoid these glitches with Google Hangouts and have a trouble-free video chat?

Below are some tips to make your chat run more smoothly.

1. Arrive Early To Check Potential Problems

Arriving at the last minute and hoping for the best is risky. Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketing suggests turning up early to deal with potential issues. This can include unmuting yourself, something glaringly obvious but you’d be surprised at how often it happens. Also check your microphone and webcam to make sure you are wired for sound and picture.

In an interview with Small Business Trends, Taylor adds:

“…get into the hangout room about 30 minutes before your hangout on air is scheduled to go live and make sure you get your guests in there too. This helps you deal with the inevitable issues that can crop up – bad connections, cameras not working, etc.”

2. Test Your Internet Connection Speed

Sometimes, the Internet connection speed advertised by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the speed you are actually getting are two vastly different things. So the next thing to try is to test out your current Internet speed to see if it is what you are paying for, or if it is running seriously under.

glitches with google hangouts

For this, you’ll need a tool like Speed Test, a Web based app that tests upload and download speeds.  Click the green “Begin Test” button and let the app do its thing.

Once it’s done, compare it against your ISP package to see if it checks out. If not, a call to your ISP might be in order. But before you do that, here’s something else you should think about.

3. Restart Your Modem and Router

To restart your modem and router, just pull the cable out of the back, wait a few seconds, then put it back in again.

This will make it reboot, and in most cases, the Internet should start to become a bit faster (unless there is another underlying problem, of course).

4. Shut Down All Unnecessary Software Programs and Browser Tabs

glitches with google hangouts

Unless you have an insane amount of RAM installed in your hard drive, your computer is not going to be able to handle everything at once. If you think you can get on Google  Hangouts while also downloading large files, running security checks, or running any other intensive programs on your computer in the background, think again.

When on Hangouts, it is best to shut down all these other programs.

This also applies to browser tabs too. If you like to have 50+ browser tabs open at the same time, you are definitely going to notice some lag in your Internet speeds. Shut down all but the necessary ones. Firefox and Chrome provide the ability to bookmark all the open tabs at once, so bookmark them into a temporary folder and shut them down until later.

5. Make Sure You Don’t Get Shut Out Of Your Own On-Air Hangout

There’s nothing worse than going to all the trouble of setting up an On-Air Hangout, only to be shut out with no way of getting back in!

Taylor suggests:

“The best thing to do is go to the Google Hangout tab in the main menu, schedule a hangout on-air, and remember to click “later.” Invite your circles or public, or whoever you want to “attend” (not “present”) — this is critical. When it’s time for the hangout, simply open the hangout and “invite” your guest – this is the secret to not being locked out of your own event.”

6. Keep Your Microphone From Getting Too Close To Your Mouth

When using an external microphone, another problem is getting the microphone too close to your mouth. Some might believe such positioning is necessary to be heard. But, in fact, it has the opposite effect, causing the voice to break up in a hail of static.

Instead, keep microphones at a good distance. If your microphone is working correctly, it will pick up your voice just fine, assuming you have the volume set correctly.

7. Nuke Any Background Noise

glitches with google hangouts

When participating in a Hangout, you will want to be heard by the other participants. But that won’t be possible if you have work colleagues or people in your home office talking away in the background.

When working from home, make sure the TV is off and there’s no music playing in the background. You’ll also want to watch for the sounds of dogs barking or children yelling.

Before the call, tell everyone to quiet down. Or move to another room and close the door. Make it clear you are not to be disturbed.

8. Disable Any Programs Which Might Be Using The Camera

If you try to enter a Hangout while a program such as Skype is running, your webcam may not work properly. This is because the webcam is programmed to work in Skype and not in Hangouts. So you might be left with nothing but a static profile photo where your video should be.

Before the Hangout begins, disable Skype. Then go to your Hangouts settings and make sure that the session will be using your webcam to capture your participation.

9. Don’t Have Too Many People On The Call

Google Hangouts allows up to 10 people to participate at any one time. But just because you can have that many people on a call doesn’t mean you have to. The more people who log in, the more strain you’re putting on the Hangout.

So only have the participants who truly have to be there. If 10 people turn up for the event but only 5 really need to be there, boot the other 5 out.

10. Use Google Chrome (But Not Canary)

There are lots of Internet browsers available, but when it comes to running Hangouts, the best browser to use is Google’s own Chrome. Hangouts runs faster and more smoothly on Chrome. Sure, Hangouts will work on the other browsers, but you won’t see the same speed that Chrome delivers.

That said, be careful not to use the Canary version of Chrome. Canary is a “bleeding edge” beta test version and is full of bugs and not ready for prime time. Instead use the stable release, and you shouldn’t have any problems.

11. Make Sure Your Battery is Charged and Your WiFi is Working

glitches with google hangouts

The ability to use Hangouts on your smartphone or tablet means you can have video chats “on-the-go”. But if this is what you want to do, make sure of two things. First, make sure your device is suitably charged. A lot of devices will lag if the battery is down to its last 10%.

Second, log in well in advance and check the WiFi connection to make sure that it is fast enough. WiFi is notoriously fickle, compared to an Ethernet cable, so don’t let a bad WiFi connection ruin your session.

Google Hangouts can be a great communications tool. But be sure you are prepared to avoid the downside of this new and sometimes unpredictable application.

For More Tips on Using Google Hangouts:

How to Use Google+ Hangouts for Business

Using Google Hangouts to Collaborate with Anyone, Anywhere on Any Device

There’s a Secret Weapon for Better Networking on Google Hangouts

Frustrated Photo via Shutterstock, Quiet Photo via Shutterstock, Headset Photo via Shutterstock

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Mark O'Neill Mark O'Neill is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering software and social media. He is a freelance journalist who has been writing for over 25 years, and has successfully made the leap from newspapers and radio onto the Internet. From 2007-2013, he was the Managing Editor of MakeUseOf.com.

14 Reactions
  1. Have you ever had issues with echoes when someone’s mic picks up their speakers? If yes, any tips for that?

  2. Restarting your computer is one thing you didn’t mention although closing programs will help. I don’t understand your #5. How could you get shut out of your own hangout? And why couldn’t you just re-enter?

  3. I would advise not to use Google Hangouts until lots of technical glitches are solved, like these show stoppers:

    1. Bad adaptability to variable broadband speed.
    2. Broken signal initiation, you are calling and in the other side they don’t get any invitation.
    3. Double session initiation, when some session ends because of “network error” and Google reports that to you, when you start another in display the message that you are in a hangout and can’t connect.
    4. Unreliable, broken network handling, displaying random network errors when other applications are working just fine with the same connection.
    5. Unfriendly interface, that is easy to get lost for people with little technical background.
    6. Lots of trouble with the Audio and Video source, so you

    As your article shows, Google Hangouts (11 ways to make it work) is only for technical people with desire to do some debugging, for the rest of people who just want a video chat, it does not make the cut.

  4. Linda Larson Schlitz

    As much as I want to do the live streaming you tube service I just can’t rely on google hangouts. There is ALWAYS a voice lag and when you are doing a show it is just not worth the risk. I even plugged in directly to my cable box last week thinking it was a bandwidth problem but not the case. I give up. I am using zoom because skype keeps dropping….zoom is great! Just wish it was easier to edit.

    • Hi Linda and all,
      I just tried everything and desperately NEED a way to record interviews and see both webcams while recording.
      You mentioned Zoom, and I never heard of it.
      But is it similar to Google Hangouts and is it FREE?
      The hangouts is NOT working for me, even after 10tips…

      I interview many people one on one interviews to promote them.

      Thank you so much ANYONE for other advise,

  5. Google hangouts is causing trouble to people with slow internet connections. I am a writer; i am losing business because i cannot chat with my clients. Google talk used to be superb, very light and always picking at any internet speed; even the slowest connections.

    My job, and my interaction with clients does not require video chatting. Text chatting is enough. I can’t get this from Google hangouts anymore.

    Just frustrated….

  6. Thank you soo much for the post on ‘Hangouts’
    I use it for the web cam darts with logitech c920 and was pixelated in firefox until i tried chrome WOW what a difference. I even bought and tried a logitech c270 and was pixelated in firefox.. (it only come today too)
    problem solved thanks again

  7. I am a usability/UX researcher, and today may be the day the day that has me finally giving up on this application for guerrilla testing with users. When internet service went down at the location I was testing in today, 30 minutes of an incredible user interview got flushed that I will not be able to adequately reconstruct from memory. I’d like to think they could build in a way to automatically save what had been captured before a disconnect, even if it decides to stop recording. Infuriating. Can’t wait for Silverback user testing app to work out the bugs in their current OS compatible app. I tried to bridge the gap with Hangouts many times, and the fail rate is just too great for anything but a casual convo with grandma. Booooo!

  8. “Unless you have an insane amount of RAM installed in your hard drive”

    I was unaware that’s where RAM got installed. I thought you just downloaded more RAM.

  9. Google Hangouts is horrible! Just use Discord! Way better for video calls! Only use Hangouts for chatting!