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Starting a Hangout on Google+

Google+ has provided its users with a service called hangouts that allows any person to chat over a video connection with up to ten people anywhere in the world. The coolest part is that Google+ doesn't charge a dime for this service.

Using hangouts requires you to have a webcam attached to your computer. This article is written with the assumption that you have a webcam and it is properly set up for your computer.

To start your hangout, click the green Start a Hangout button on the right column of Google+. A pop-up window appears that has your video in it, where you can start preparing for your hangout.

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The pop-up window includes a video that you can use to check to be sure everything is set up correctly. You'll want to follow these tips before starting:

  • Comb your hair. Put some clothes on (please!). Make sure you're presentable!

  • Click Mute Video or Mute Mic at the bottom of the hangout configuration screen if you don't want others to see you or hear you (or both).

  • Click Settings (also at the bottom of the hangout configuration screen) if you need to configure your video to pull from a different video source, or choose a different microphone.

  • Consider lighting — turn on the lights so it isn't too dark where you are. Open the shades. A well-lit video always looks good.

Now that your video is set up and you are presentable, you need to decide who should be in your video hangout. You can invite up to ten specific people or an entire circle.

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Hangouts have a limit of ten people per hangout (unless Google raised that limit after this was written). If you specify a circle with more than ten people, the first ten people to accept your invitation will be allowed in the hangout. It's first come, first served.

Here are some tips to consider when deciding whom to hang out with:

  • Specifying individual names means each person will get a notification saying they were invited to your hangout.

  • Specifying a circle means that the people in that circle will see you're having a hangout, but this doesn't mean they'll be notified.

  • Specifying a hangout as Public means that it will appear in the streams of everyone who has circled you, whether they are in your circles or not. Also, your hangout can potentially appear in Google search results and other apps in the future.

  • Choosing Your Circles means that your hangout will appear in the streams of just the people you've circled. You can, of course, be more specific by choosing only a single circle or two.

Now, click Hangout, and your hangout will begin.

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