5 ways to make Google Home talk nerdy to you

Google Home can say it better, clearer or not at all when you give it these simple commands.

Dale Smith Former Associate Writer
Dale Smith is a former Associate Writer on the How-To team at CNET.
Dale Smith
4 min read

You might not always need Google Home to give you verbal responses to your commands.


You've already mastered the basic commands for your Google Home devices -- playing games, jamming to music and creating routines are all old hat to you by now. You're ready to dig a little deeper and unearth some of Google Home's hidden skills. Good news -- Google Home's list of commands keeps growing, constantly expanding the devices' ability to help you do more with your day.

If you've ever wanted Google Home to give you a little less lip when performing actions, or to make an announcement to the whole house, or ever needed Google Home to repeat itself -- a little more clearly this time, please -- there's a command for that, too, and more. 

These are the little-known tips, tricks and secret settings you'll need to get Google Home to say more, say less, or say just what you need to hear when you need to hear it.


When you're in the middle of cooking, you might get distracted while Google Home responds to a question. Simply ask, "OK Google, can you repeat that more slowly?" to hear it again.


Say that again, Google?

One of the best things about Google Home is that it helps you get more done when you're already doing too much. Sometimes when you ask Google a question, you might forget to listen, or there's noise in the background, or any number of things are going on to distract you from Google's answer. 

No problem -- just say, "OK Google, can you repeat that more slowly?" Google Assistant will now reiterate its response, whether you wondered aloud how old Tom Cruise is these days (57, by the way) or simply asked how many cups is 32 tablespoons (it's 2 cups). Difference is, this time Google will enunciate the answer nice … and … slowly… so you can catch it, regardless of what else is going on.

Actually, Google, can you zip it?

As recently as last summer, Google Home confirmed every action with a verbal response. Tell it to turn off the living room lights and it would respond, "Turning off lights," usually after the lights were already off. Thanks, Captain Obvious. 


When performing obvious tasks, like turning lights on and off, you don't necessarily need verbal confirmation. Thankfully, there's a workaround to get Google Assistant to zip it.

James Martin/CNET

An update in July changed that, and now Google responds to some commands, such as flipping smart bulbs on or off, with a simple chime. However, other commands, like changing the temperature on the thermostat or unlocking a smart lock, still trigger verbal confirmation. If you want more action and less conversation from your Google Home, there's a simple workaround: create a routine. 

1. From the Google Home app, tap on Routines then Manage Routines.

2. Click the + sign to add a routine.

3. Under When I say… tap Add commands (this is required).

4. In the When I say… field, type the phrase you want to use as a trigger. For example, "Unlock the front door," or, "Turn on the AC," or, if  you don't want Google to chime, either, "Turn on living room lights."

5. In the Google Assistant should… field, enter the command you want to execute. This may be the same or similar to the trigger you entered in When I say… For example, "Turn on the lights," or, "Unlock front door."

6. Tap Save in the upper right corner.

Now when you say, "OK Google," followed by "turn on the lights" or "unlock the front door," Google Assistant will cut the lights or open the lock, but won't bother you with a recap.

The growing crowd of smart speakers is ready for your command

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Say my name, Google

There are some names that Google Home, like many virtual assistants, just gets hung up on. Just ask celebrities Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes or Beyoncé. If you, too, have a name that text-to-speech engines have a hard time nailing down, you can teach Google Assistant how to say it by spelling it out phonetically.

1. Open your Google Home app and go to Settings, then scroll down almost to the bottom and tap on More settings.

2. Near the top of the list, tap on Nickname.

3. Tap Spell it out to craft a phonetic spelling of your name.

4. Tap Play to hear it.

5. If Google Assistant still isn't quite saying it right, go back and tweak your phonetic spelling until it does.


Even celebrities like Beyoncé ("Bee-aunts-say") might have to teach Google Home how to say their name, the right way.

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OK Google, say something to everyone

If your house is flush with Google Home devices, you can use them as a public address system.

Supper ready? Say, "OK Google, broadcast that it's time for dinner" and it will make the announcement over every speaker in the house. Losing at hide-and-seek? "OK Google, broadcast that I give up." Lost your keys? "OK Google, broadcast: Has anyone seen my keys?"

Watch this: 5 most useful Google Home commands

OK Google, tell me something good

If the news of the day has got you down, Google Home's got the antidote. 

"OK Google, tell me something good" will prompt Google Assistant to pluck a few pieces of feel-good news to help brighten your day. 

Stories of victory over an adversary, problems big and small being creatively solved, and human beings letting their better angels take the wheel drown out the news of corruption and scandal that often comprise the big headlines of the day.

If the thing you're trying to say is actually in a totally different language, Google Home can help translate it for you, too. If you'd like to say something to someone outside your home, you can make phone calls with Google Home. If you're still trying to get your offline Google Home to say anything at all, here's how to set up your Google Home the right way.