From the very beginning, Hangouts have been one of the most popular and most useful features of Google+. Aside from being a free and easy way to do group video chat with up to ten people, Hangouts also offer a platform for games and collaboration and a broadcasting tool through Hangouts On Air. Here's your complete guide on how to do all that, and more!
Starting a Hangout
Start a Hangout in Google+
The fastest way to start a hangout in Google+ is the big "Start a hangout" button in the upper right above the chat list.
Another way is the Hangout page, which can be accessed by the Hangout icon on the left navigation bar. From here, you can see Featured Hangouts and Hangouts on Air to watch, or start your own hangout by clicking the big red button.
Regardless of where you start a hangout from, you'll first be greeted by a list of people in your circles that you may want to invite. You can enter any person's name or the name of one of your circles to invite those people, or you can make a hangout public which allows anyone to join.
Start a Hangout from Chat and Gmail
In Gmail, there is a hangout button conveniently located above the chat list.
To begin a hangout with someone you're chatting with on Gmail or Google+, there's a convenient button located right in the chat window.
Start a Hangout on mobile
Hanging out from the Google+ app for Android and iOS is just as easy as doing so from the computer, although you can't access Hangout apps from mobile. To start a hangout, just select "Hangouts" from the menu, select people to hang out with, and press "Start Hangout."
Joining a Hangout
You won't be starting every hangout you participate in - sometimes people will invite you! These invitations can show up in Google+ notifications, in Chat, or via a "Hangout call" on your phone. Regardless, it's as simple as clicking "Join Hangout" to jump in and start video chatting.
Inside the Hangout
Now that you're in the hangout, what do you do? Well, for most users you can just sit back and enjoy the conversation, but there are some ways you can enhance or change your hangout experience.
Along the top of the hangout window are options to name the hangout, mute your microphone, turn off your video, or change video settings. If you're experiencing issues seeing or hearing other people, you may want to adjust the settings by clicking the "cog" button.
If a user is being too loud or is otherwise being offensive, roll over their image on the bottom for options to mute them or block them. Blocking a user means you'll be unable to interact with them - in hangouts or any other Google+ capacity, so only use it when you need to.
Using Hangout Apps
Hangout apps take a normal hangout and turn it into something special. Games like Warlight or Hangouts Against Humanity allow for a board game experience for players around the world, Google+ effects adds masks and sound effects that are always good for a laugh, and Google Drive allows for real time collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
Most apps can be found within any hangout: the left-hand bar holds many of the more popular apps, and you can add more by clicking the "Add more apps" button.
Other apps, like the NFL fantasy football app or others that are currently in development, can be launched from a link or the G+ Hangout button.
Hangouts On Air
Whether it's for a concert, an announcement, or a meeting with the president, sometimes you want to have a hangout that the whole world can watch. Doing so couldn't be simpler: just check the "Enable Hangouts On Air" box when starting your hangout.
Once everyone is in hangout and ready to go, click "Start Broadcast" for your hangout to be streamed live on your Google+ profile, and uploaded to your YouTube account afterwards.
Do you have more questions about how to hangout? Have another tip? Comment on Google+ by clicking "Join the Conversation!"