How to use gesture controls on your Nest Hub smart display

Google's smart display lineup can take commands with just the wave of your hand. Here's how to make the most of the Quick Gestures feature.

Molly Price Former Editor
3 min read
Derek Poore/CNET

Google smart displays rank at the top of our list for the best smart displays you can buy today. With robust third-party integrations, good audio and a camera-free model for those with security concerns, there are plenty of reasons to choose a Nest Hub product. 

One of the small, but surprisingly practical features of both the Nest Hub, now in its second generation, and Nest Hub Max is Quick Gestures. It's a way to communicate with your display without tapping it or using a voice command.

Each display approaches Quick Gestures differently. The Nest Hub Max uses its built-in camera to watch for gestures, if you have the feature enabled. The Nest Hub is camera-free and relies on Google's Soli mini radar technology to detect movement. Gestures on each display are slightly different, too. Here's how they work on each Nest Hub model.

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Nest Hub Max

Because the Nest Hub Max uses its camera for Quick Gestures, you'll need to have Camera Sensing and Quick Gestures turned on. Do that by opening the Google Home app, finding your Nest Hub Max display and navigating to Settings > Recognition & sharing > Recognition & Personalization. Toggle on both Camera Sensing and Quick Gestures. 

With these features enabled, you'll now be able to control your device with hand gestures. There is one control motion for Nest Hub Max. While looking at the camera, hold up your hand with your palm facing the device. This will pause or resume media, dismiss timers and alarms and stop Google Assistant from talking.

If you're not interested in Quick Gestures, or don't find the feature especially helpful, you can navigate through the previously mentioned menu in the Google Home app to turn Camera Sensing and Quick Gestures off. Alternatively, sliding the mic and camera switch on the back of the display will disable these features. 

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Nest Hub (2nd gen)

The Nest Hub doesn't have a camera. It's one of the things we like about it. You get a premium smart display with an option that offers more peace of mind. For Quick Gestures on the Nest Hub, Google uses Soli radar to detect movements in front of the display. 

As with the Nest Hub Max, you'll need to enable Quick Gestures and what Google calls Motion Sense in order for hand commands to work. Enabling these features is easy on the Nest Hub. Swipe up from the bottom of the display screen, select the Settings gear in the bottom right and you'll see options for Motion Sense and Quick gestures. You can also enable Quick Gestures in the Google Home app if you prefer. 

With Motion Sense and Quick Gestures enabled, you'll be able to either swipe the air or tap it to control your display. Tap the air in front of the display to pause and resume media or stop Google Assistant from talking. Wave your hand in front of the Nest Hub to snooze and alarm or dismiss a timer. 

Disabling these features can be done from the menu on the display or in the Google Home app. Quick Gestures can be helpful in the kitchen or if you're across the room from your device, and it's just one of the many things your smart display can do

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