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Stop shouting at Google Home. Adjust this setting instead

Here's how to fine-tune the wake word on your Google Home and Nest smart speakers.

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- 02:01
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Google Home's new wake word sensitivity setting should work for Google Home and Google Nest speakers as well as Nest Hub smart displays.

Angela Lang/CNET

Has Google Home ever left you hanging? Like, you summon Google Assistant ("Hey," or "OK, Google") then wait. And wait. But all you get is a big fat nothing out of your Google Home? If it has, you can quit shouting about it now, because Google released a fix that also solves the opposite problem -- when your Google Home in the other room perks up every time you say something that sounds even remotely like its wake words, aka "toaster strudel." 

Being able to adjust the sensitivity of your Google Home smart speaker to its wake word means you can now fine-tune your Google Home or Nest device to pick up commands only when you're actually talking to it. That isn't just convenient -- it actually helps protect your privacy, too. If you've opted in to the Voice & Audio Activity setting in your Google account to teach the Assistant to better recognize your voice, Google keeps recordings of those interactions forever unless you tell it otherwise. That includes snippets of conversations it might pick up my mistake.

Hopefully, Google Home's new sensitivity setting will help curb these unintentional triggers, better protecting not just your privacy, but also your sanity. Here's what you need to know about the new feature.

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Kitchens can get noisy, so you may want to increase sensitivity to your Google Home speakers there.

Dale Smith/CNET

Hey, Google, why so sensitive?

Here's how to adjust the wake word sensitivity on your Google Home devices:

1. Open the Google Home app and find the device whose wake word sensitivity you'd like to change. It should work with the OG Google Home, Google Home Mini ($49 at Walmart) and Home Max, and Nest Hub ($70 at Crutchfield) and Hub Max.

2. Tap the device you want to adjust, then tap Settings (the gear icon) in the upper right corner.

3. Scroll down and under Device Settings tap Hey Google sensitivity.

4. Drag the slider higher to make Google Home more likely to hear your voice and lower to make it less likely. When you get it just right, back out and adjust your other speakers if necessary.

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Consider mounting your Google Home Mini on the wall to get better sound and so it can hear you better.

Dale Smith/CNET

Now that you can adjust the wake word sensitivity on your Google Home speaker, you can put it just about anywhere. For example, try hanging it on the wall for better sound. And whether you're a new Google Home user or an old pro, you won't regret changing these five settings. Google Home has come a long way since its early days playing catch-up with Alexa, but these three annoyances prove it's still not perfect.