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Smart Home

5 Google Home tips for couch potatoes

Google Home makes a great TV remote for Netflix and YouTube.

With a Google Home and a Chromecast, you can use Google's voice assistant as your TV remote control. I find Google Home to be faster and easier for watching Netflix and YouTube than using my regular TV remote. Here's a handful of tips to get started and get the most out of putting Google Home in your TV room.

1. Connect your TV to Google Home

First things first: you'll need a Chromecast or a TV with a built-in Chromecast in order to connect your TV to Google Home. And your Chromecast and Google Home will need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. You'll also need the Google Home app.

On the app, tap the hamburger button in the top left, tap More settings, and then tap TVs and speakers under Services. To add your Chromecast-enabled TV, tap the "+" button in the lower-right, and the app will scan your network for your TV. When it finds it, tap the checkbox to the right of its name and then tap Add.

google-home-add-device

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

2. What to call your TV

If you tap Devices in settings, you can edit any of the devices listed and give it a new name that doesn't include a crazy model number. That way, you can tell Google Home "OK Google, play lolcats on YouTube in the family room." And it'll help you keep track of your devices if you have more than one Chromecast.

Once you have connected your TV to Google Home, however, you can tell it to play video "on the TV" or "on Chromecast." And when you have a YouTube video playing on your TV, you don't need to specify the destination and just say, "OK Google, play the next video" and it'll know to keep playing it on your TV.

3. Loop in Netflix

While you can tell Google Home to play YouTube videos as soon as you have a Chromecast device connected to it, you need to first link your Netflix account to Google Home before you can tell Google Home to play the latest episode of "Ozark" for you.

To do so, open the Google Home app,  tap the hamburger button in the top left, tap More settings and then tap Videos and photos. Tap the Netflix line and sign into your account to link Netflix to Google Home.

google-home-link-netflix

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

4. Netflix commands

With your Netflix account linked, you can say, "OK Google, play Ozark on Netflix" without moving from the couch or reaching for the remote to start watching the show. And Netflix will start playing your show from where you left off -- even if you stopped in the middle of the episode -- just as if you where using Netflix without Google Home.

Google Home can not only start playing Netflix shows and movies, but it also understands a number of commands that let you control the action. The following Google Home commands work with Netflix. Just say, "OK Google..."

  • Pause
  • Stop
  • Resume
  • Next/previous episode
  • Start from beginning
  • Skip forward 5 minutes or jump back 30 seconds (insert your own time increments)
  • Set volume to (a number between 1 and 10 or a percentage)
  • Mute
  • Subtitles on/off

5. No need to reach for your TV remote

If your TV supports CEC, then Google Home will power it on before playing your selection on Netflix or YouTube. So, you can put that TV remote away and won't need to hunt for it the next time you want to Netflix and chill (or YouTube and unwind?).