Get started with Google Home Max

Google's latest new smart speaker has a few tricks you should know.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read
Chris Monroe/CNET

Google Home Max is the company's latest smart speaker. It's giant, loud, and fully capable of doing anything and everything you'd expect from one of Google's smart speakers. After unboxing yours, here's what you need to know about setting it up and getting started with the Max. 

Watch this: Google Home Max is a smart speaker built to party


Chris Monroe/CNET

Google Home Max can sit flat, or stand vertically on its right side. Each spot the speaker can rest on has a series of magnets inside it. Included in the box is a magnetic rubber stand. Use this stand as a guide so you can be sure you don't have the speaker upside down or in an orientation, it doesn't support. If the stand doesn't attach itself to the speaker, try a different side.

If the speaker is plugged in and you try placing it upside down, Google Assistant will let you know.

Initial setup

After figuring out where you want Max to sit, and which orientation, plug it in. A few seconds later the lights on the front of the speaker will begin to dance and after it's fully powered up, you'll hear a sound. Using an iOS or Android device open the Google Home app, available on iOS and Android. Tap on your device (it should be listed at the top of the app as a nearby device) and follow the prompts. Setup consists of connecting the Max to your Wi-Fi network, adding a Google account, training it to recognize your voice, and updating its software.

All in all, it's a process that takes about 5 minutes.

Smart sound

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Just looking at Google Home Max it's apparent it's a serious music speaker that happens to also have Google Assistant built in. One of the headlining features of Max to drive that point home is something Google calls Smart Sound.

Basically, Smart Sound will adjust the sound quality pumped out of the speaker based on, not only the room you placed it in but where in the room it's placed. So each time you move it, the speaker will automatically readjust Smart Sound to ensure it's blaring the best sounding tunes possible.

There's nothing you need to do to trigger Smart Sound, just plug it in, give it a few seconds and it will adjust itself. Neat, eh?  


Chris Monroe/CNET

The direction you use a gesture on the Max depends on the orientation of the speaker itself. If it's vertical then the touch area will be on the right side. If it's horizontal then the touch area will be on the top of Max. Unfortunately, Google hasn't enabled a way to summon Google Assistant with just a touch to the Max. Hopefully, it's something that Google enables down the road.

  • Play/pause, end call, stop timer/alarm are all done with a tap in the middle of the speaker on a short grey line. 
  • Volume up is a swipe to the right or above the middle of the speaker.
  • Volume down is a swipe to the left or below the middle of the speaker.  

There is a mute switch on the back of the speaker that will turn off the microphone and stop Max from listening for the wake command. When enabled, you won't be able to interact with it using your voice at all, but can still use it as a Chromecast speaker in music apps like Spotify or Google Play Music.


There are far too many voice commands to list in this post, so we have a dedicated post for all of your Google Home needs. You can use either OK Google or Hey Google to trigger Google Assistant, followed by your command. Some of the highlights are:

  • Beatbox
  • Tell me a joke
  • Turn the volume up/down
  • Set a timer
  • Create a reminder

Pair a Bluetooth device

Want to play music from another device directly to the Max? Use Bluetooth. To put the Max into pairing mode, give the command "OK Google, Bluetooth pairing." Assistant will then let you know Bluetooth is on and ready to pair with another device.

From there, just follow the typical procedure to pair a device with your phone or computer. When you're ready to disconnect your device from the speaker, turn off Bluetooth by saying "OK Google, turn off Bluetooth."