Teach your Nest Doorbell how to send the notifications that matter

The Nest Doorbell with battery offers a lot of options for customization. We walk through how to tailor the smarts to fit your preferences.

Andrew Gebhart Former senior producer
3 min read
Chris Monroe/CNET

You can customize Nest's new battery-powered doorbell so it only tells you the info that you actually want to know. If you have a big family, so you don't care about people coming and going, but you do want to know when packages arrive, you set that up. If you don't care when your neighbor's dog is on the sidewalk, but do want an alert if it comes sniffing around the porch, you can do that, too.

The Nest Doorbell (battery) offers a lot of options for a reasonable $180 price. In our review, we found that it stacked up well against similar models from Arlo and Ring. It even offers more info for free than the competition. You can set up a lot of alerts and capture three hours of event footage without a monthly fee. 

If you want Google's help watching your front porch, here's how you can set up your doorbell so it specifically sends you the alerts you want.

Check out the video to see the process in action. You have lots of options for customization, but the steps needed to navigate through them are easy enough to master.

From the Google Home app, tap on your device then press the gear icon in the upper right corner. You'll find all of your customization options in this settings menu. 

Hit the Events button to see an overview of what your doorbell will currently record. Hit this overview to dive in and customize. Scroll past motion zones and familiar faces for a moment. Notice the individual toggles by people, pets, packages and cars. Your doorbell can distinguish each and you can decide which of the four you care about. 

Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

Flip the first toggle by each option and your doorbell will record any relevant events. If the first toggle is on, you'll see a second toggle. Flip this one and you'll get a push notification when the event occurs. If you like to watch clips of the goofy dogs of your neighborhood trotting past, but don't need a notification since the info isn't pressing, just flip on the first toggle by pets and leave the second one off. 

You can also have your doorbell record any motion it senses, but this will use up your battery faster.

Scroll back up in the menu to set up motion zones. Add a zone and you can drag and drop the corners to target just your porch, your sidewalk, your garden or whatever else you'd like. Within each zone, you can toggle the same settings for people, pets, packages and cars. You can tailor it so you don't get notified if a car drives past on the street near your porch, but your doorbell will record and notify you if a car takes a turn through your carefully manicured garden.

Up until now, you can access every option I've talked about without paying for a monthly subscription. With a Nest Aware subscription, you can turn on familiar face detection. Nest Aware starts at $6 a month, which is more than the similar $3 a month offerings from Arlo and Ring. 

That said, you get 30 days of event storage instead of three hours if you pay for the sub. You don't even need to do much to set up familiar face detection. Toggle it on, and your doorbell will learn faces over time as it sees people. 

From the main settings menu, you can also customize settings to extend your battery life, set your vid quality, modify night vision settings and more. The Nest Doorbell has a lot of options to fine tune at your leisure.

The Events button is my favorite, though, as it lets you train the doorbell to be a helpful assistant. It will know what to tell you right away, what to record for later and what to ignore so you can stay informed on what happens on your porch without drowning in unnecessary notifications.