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Google Home, Nest Mini or Nest Hub: 32 best tips for your new smart speaker

Everything you need to know to create custom routines, set timers and reminders, control your smart home devices and more.

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The Google Nest Hub is a Google Home with a screen.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Congratulations on your new Google Home ($79 at Walmart) or Nest Mini ($35 at Walmart) smart speaker, Nest Hub ($99 at Walmart) or Nest Hub Max ($230 at Best Buy). Once you set up your new smart speaker (or get your new smart display up and running) it's time to start making it work for you.

Google's smart speaker can do a whole lot more than give you a weather forecast or play music (although it does those things and so much more). It's a powerful tool that can control your other smart home devices and automate your life with a simple voice command.

If you're a proud owner of a Google speaker or display, here's everything you need to know to get the most out of your smart home experience.

Now playing: Watch this: The first 5 things to do with a new Google Home speaker
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Where should you put your Google Home?

Google Home speakers and Nest Hub displays are small enough to fit in most places around the house, but they serve a different purpose in each room you put them in. If you only have one, you'll want to think about what you'll probably use it for the most, as well as which room you spend the most time in every day. Here are some ideas to consider:

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If your household speaks more than one language, set Google Home to multilingual and it'll understand commands in two languages.

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Master the basics

You can always refer to our up-to-date list of every Google Assistant command we know about for detailed descriptions of the various Google Actions your smart speaker or display can perform. But for starters, you might want to go in and choose which Google Assistant voice you want your smart device to use

Here are a few other settings you might want to learn and/or change immediately:

How to talk to Google Assistant

The full list of Google Assistant voice commands is long and growing, but there are several you'll actually use regularly: 

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With big speakers, the Google Home Max can fill your home with music.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Rock out to some tunes

Playing music will likely become one of your favorite things to do with your Google Home. Here are several tips to get you started: 

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Google Home can either read along with children's books, or you can record a story with your own voice to be played back later.

Angela Lang/CNET

Podcasts, audiobooks and bedtime stories

Another hugely popular use for your new Google smart speaker or display is listening to podcasts, audiobooks and children's stories. Here are some ways to get started with those:

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In the ongoing battle among Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, there are some tricks Google Home can do that the others can't.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Outside-the-box tips

Google Home speakers and displays are packed full of features you might not expect. Here are a few tricks you might not have known your new smart speaker or display could do: 

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Google Home can connect to thousands of different smart home devices, including color-changing lights and more.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Control your smart home devices

Google Home speakers can serve as a central hub for all of your smart devices. For the most part, they can control any smart home product you already have. To get started:

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Google Home devices have a physical mute switch to help you keep private conversations private.

Chris Monroe/CNET

How to address common problems

Once you've set up your Google Home, you shouldn't need to mess with the settings or troubleshoot. But no software or hardware is perfect, so if you run into problems, check out these guides:

Originally published last year.