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How to Use Google Meet: A Quick Guide
August 20, 2020
With remote work going through the roof, knowing how to use Google Meet should be at the top of everyone’s basic skills list. Thankfully, if you’re trying to dodge Zoom-bombing or just want an alternative to Zoom, you can use Google Meet and enjoy smooth integration with Google Calendar and G-Suite. This tool isn’t difficult to learn. Plus, our guide will get you started in minutes.
We’ll also compare Google Meet vs Zoom when it comes to quality and security. The first thing to know? Google Meet is just Google Hangouts rebranded. Meet makes enterprise-level video conferencing accessible to everyone for free through September 2020.
How to use Google Meet
Whether you start your own meeting or join someone else’s, using Google Meet is as easy as learning a few features and adding a Chrome add-on to make your life a million times easier.
First, decide if you’ll connect with a phone, a desktop computer, or a laptop. Just keep in mind you’ll want a webcam for video chat.
As a rule, laptops include built-in webcams, as do most All-in-One computers. If you have a desktop setup, your monitor may or may not have an integrated webcam. If it doesn’t, you can always add one. Read here about connecting a webcam to your monitor.
Our suggestion? Chat using one of our best HP laptops for a great remote meeting experience. Enjoy the room-filling sound of dual or quad Bang & Olufsen speakers, with HP Audio Boost or an HD TripleMic Webcam.
1. Download the Google Meet app (optional)
You can skip this step unless you’re hunting for how to use Google Meet on mobile. But if you want to join or host a meeting from your phone or tablet, you’ll need the app from the following sources:
- Google Meet app download for Android (Google Play Store)
- Google Meet app download for iOS (Apple App Store)
One big downside of hosting meetings from your phone? Others who want to join from their phones too will also need to download the app first. If they join your mobile-hosted meeting from a desktop, they can skip the app and join from a web browser. One nice feature on mobile is that you can just click “Rejoin” to pop back in after stepping out.
2. Open Google Meet
To host or join a meeting right now, click this link to open Google Meet from anywhere. Once open, you have a simple choice: start a meeting or enter a meeting code.
If you have a G Suite account, you can also open Google Meet from there without a link. Just open any Google service (Gmail, Drive, Google Calendar, etc.) and click the little grid icon in the upper right. Then click on Google Meet in the dropdown menu.
3. Start a meeting now
Wondering how to do Google Meetings right now? Open Google Meet as shown above. Then click the big green button that says, “Start a meeting.” Pretty simple, right? Google will create your meeting in a flash. Click “Join now” to join it, and you’re in.
4. Or join a meeting already in progress
What if you’re joining someone else’s meeting? In that case, they probably sent you a “join” link by text or email. Just click the link. If you join from a laptop or desktop, you can do that from a browser window even if you don’t have a Google account.
If you join from a smartphone or a tablet, you’ll need the app. However, if the meeting host gave you a dial-in number, you can join app-free by calling that number (though it will be audio only). If you’re looking for how to use Google Meet with a meeting code somebody gave you, open the app and copy-paste the meeting code into the blank.
5. Or schedule a meeting
If you’re wondering how to use Google Meet to schedule a meeting, ignore the steps above. Instead, go straight to Google Calendar. Then click on a date or time to create a run-of-the-mill event. (Yes, it really is that easy.) Right in the event creation window, you’ll see a big blue button marked “Add Google Meet video conferencing.” Click it.
Then click “Add guests” and start typing email addresses. If you’ve emailed any of them from a Gmail account in the past, they’ll autofill. Click “Save,” and choose whether to send invite emails. That’s it! You’ve scheduled a meeting.
6. Control your camera and sound
Google automatically checks your camera, mic, and speakers. You can also control your camera and sound settings yourself. There are icons at the bottom of the screen to mute your mic or turn off your webcam, just like Zoom. You can also click the three stacked dots on the lower right to open a little settings menu. Here, you can adjust:
- Screen layout
- Full screen on/off
- Settings (choose microphone, speakers, camera, and resolution)
7. Add people on the spot
Want to add participants on the fly? That’s easy, too. Just click the little people icon in the upper right. Then in the side menu that slides out, click “Add people.” You’ll get a pop-up where you can type email addresses or scroll through a list of your contacts to pick-and-click.
8. Share your screen
In the Google Meet vs Zoom debate, screen sharing is a must have. To share your screen, click the “present now” button in the bottom right. Just like with Zoom, you can share your entire screen or just a window. Google also lets you share a single Chrome tab, which is the best choice for video or animation.
9. Mute attendees
“Hey, whose dog is barking?” Loud pets, loud kids, and traffic noise can quickly overpower a meeting. Unfortunately, muting people is a little tricky, and the best advice is to ask everyone to mute themselves unless they’re talking. There’s no “mute all” feature yet in Google Meet. There is a Chrome add-on for that; scroll down to see it.
Looking for how to use Google Meet to mute people sans add-ons? The only way is one-by-one.
- Click the people icon in the upper right
- Hover over the slide-out menu
- Click the drop down arrow near the person’s name
- Click the picture of a mic
10. Text chat during the meeting
One of the nicer Google Meets features is text chat during meetings. Anyone in the meeting can send a quick text message, which is great for sharing files or links. Just note that everyone in the meeting can see your messages. It used to be that on a laptop or desktop PC, you could text chat with one person only. Google seems to have removed this feature, but there’s a Chrome add-on that adds it back.
Google Meet security vs Zoom
There’s basically no Google Meet-bombing. In the Google vs Zoom showdown, security is key. With Google, every session is encrypted, and if you record a meeting, it’s stored as an encrypted file in the cloud. The only thing that’s not encrypted is any audio call-in.
Google has a full briefcase of protections in place, including:
- Only meeting creators can remove participants.
- Google Meet’s 10-character meeting codes are hard to crack.
- Only invitees can join.
- Participants who aren’t invited must be let in by the host.
- Hosts and in-domain participants can remove attendees.
- Dial-in guests must use 9-digit pins.
Google Meet vs Zoom quality
If you and your participants have strong internet connections, Zoom and Google have similar, crystal-clear video and audio quality. However, for connections with low bandwidth, Zoom has a slight edge.
Want to learn more about using Zoom? See our article on How To Use Zoom For Remote Meetings.
Google Meet apps for easier use
The clear way Google Meet beats Zoom is price. While both have free options, Zoom’s more expensive plans are more customizable and feature-rich. However, Google makes up for this with a few feature-adding apps.
You can add the Push to Talk Chrome add-on so everybody has to press a keyboard key to talk, just like a CB radio. There are two by the same name though, and one doesn’t work as well, so download yours from our Google Play link. Or, you can add Google Meet Plus for a raft of features like:
- Push to talk
- Auto mute for all (until the host unmutes)
- Change background
- Meeting timer
Google Meet Plus is a free add-on, but there’s a paid subscription version that adds a whiteboard, polling, and private messaging.
Looking for a few more options for video conferencing besides Google Meet and Zoom? See our guide, 10 Best Video Conferencing Software Solutions for 2020.
Google Meet pricing
Google Meet is always free - with a max of 100 participants and a 1-hour meeting length. (It’s boosted to 24 hours through Sept 30, 2020.) For free you get unlimited meetings, screen sharing, closed captioning, and other bennies. You can even get the “Essentials” and “Enterprise” levels free through September 2020.
Want a 300-hour meeting length and up to 250 meeting participants, plus phone dial-in, meeting recording saved to Google Drive, and 24/7 support? You’ll pay up to $20 a month per active user after Sept. 30, 2020.
That’s how to use Google Meet. The quickest way to use it is to schedule a garden-variety event in Google Calendar, click “Add Google Meet video conferencing,” and then start adding guests. Google will send emails to them with join links. The best way to use Meet is with free add-ons like Push to Talk that make it so much more user-friendly.
About the Author: Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.