How To: Setup, Configure, and use Google Now

by: Derek RossJuly 2, 2012

What is Google Now?

There’s some confusion out there in the Android world. Google Now is not Android’s “Siri killer”, that’s Voice Search (which you can get to and use from within Google Now). Google Now is much, much more than an application that listens to queries and spits out answers. I’m not even sure we can call Google Now a virtual assistant either. Google Now is about automating your life and in return, making your life easier. Google Now does that by providing a vast amount of information, pertinent to you, at your fingertips. There’s just one catch though. Those of your that often go full tin foil hat mode really won’t be able to fully enjoy Google Now to its’ full potential. So take off your head gear and let’s get started.

[Google Now] tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.

How to setup Google Now

To get started, you’ll first need to launch Google Now from either your lock screen by swiping up towards the ‘Google’ icon or by swiping up from any of your soft keys. You can press in and swipe up from the back arrow, home key, and recents key.


If you haven’t launched Google Now until…now… you’ll need to tap through the welcome screen setup.

Now go ahead and scroll down the to very bottom and tap the 3 dots (menu button) in the bottom right corner. This will launch the Google Now / Voice Search settings. Tap Google Now to customize your Google Now cards.

You can also view Sample Cards and configure them from the Google Now home screen. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and tap “Show sample cards”.

Most of you will probably need to leave these settings set to default until you get a better feel for Google Now and what information you wish to have at your fingertips, without having to dig through your phone.  Now that you have your cards setup, you need to populate them with some data. You can do that by using Voice Search. You can tap the microphone icon and search for your favorite sports team, weather, restaurant, flight numbers, or anything related to the sample cards provided for you.

For example: “What’s the weather today?” “Do the Yankee’s play today?” “I’m hungry for Chinese food”. You get the idea.

Now you privacy folks you’ll need to remove your tin foil hats for the next part. As I said earlier, to fully get the most of of Google Now, you’ll need to setup a few more tasks revolving around your location.

For your location settings, first head back into the Google Now settings and tap Privacy accounts. By default, all of these settings should be enabled.

Next, tap Manage location settings. This will take you into Maps settings. For best results, you’ll want location history enabled.

Next, so that Google Now can identify your home and work address correctly (instead of your favorite place to hangout) launch Maps. Now select Location history. From here you’ll have the option to configure your home and work locations. (Yes, I work more than 21 hours a week on average. My building at work doesn’t provide the greatest GPS window.)

Now you have Google Now setup and ready to show you some cards. You should start seeing cards immediately for weather, distance to work / home, and possibly other locations. If you’re near a bus station you may see that data populate right away as well. As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to start using Voice Search and searching for other card related items to let Google Now know you’re interested. After you start putting information into Google Now, you’ll start to see cards show up in your notifications. Just tap on them to view them or at anytime you can swipe up from your soft keys or home screen.

Tips and Tricks

Once you close or swipe away a card in Google Now or from your notifications, it isn’t gone, don’t worry. It will come back the next time data for that card changes. For example: if you swipe away your weather, it won’t come back until your location changes or your weather information changes.

You can force cards to reappear by tapping the menu icon at the bottom of Google Now and tapping the refresh button. If you’re still having problems, you can always go into Google Now settings, flip the toggle switch off, reboot, and then re-enable Google Now. You shouldn’t have to do this though.

Add locations to your Calendar events. Google Now will then give you a notification when you need to leave to arrive on time.

If you’ve used Latitude to Check-in to many businesses in your area, you may start to see those show up in Google Now. If you just swipe those away, they’ll keep coming back. When these cards are shown, you have the option to no longer track those places by tapping the settings.

Enabling Web History drastically improves the functionality of Google Now. You can control these settings at

Lastly, the more you use Google Now, the better it becomes. Enjoy!

  • Roy

    Finally, someone who knows the difference between google now and regular voice search. I have been so annoyed by that mistake everywhere. I’m curious to see how it will develop. I hope calender will allow to add maps places in locations and will start guessing transportation appropriately. Should be interesting!

  • Girish

    For anyone that is having issues getting google now to work with your Google APPS account..check out this thread..this solves that issue

  • shooterjim

    Ha Ha… would have been nice to know that this is a “Jelly Bean” feature and does not work or appear on my Galaxy SII SkyRocket from AT&T.

    • Roaming Gnome

      It does. Just have to be rooted, on ICS, and have the apk for it. I am currently running it on my skyrocket. However the voice doesnt work on any ICS system, only JB.

  • Doesn’t work on my Samsung Galaxy S 3 either.

    • um, yes it does.. working fine on mine

      • civilclerk1

        What am I doing wrong? I just got my Galaxy S3 yesterday and have gotten all the settings correct and have not seen anything but weather on the home screen which cannot be swiped away by the way. Help?

  • How do you get Google Now to speak back to you like the videos show? Mine only displays the weather for example when I ask what the weather will be today.

    • maurid

      You have to ask by voice.

      • beakeroo

        You have to download offline voice language in settings bottom right of now screen)

    • iman

      I have the same problem. It only shows the information and don’t speak even when you ask by voice.

    • Gordon Scott

      you must also enable US english as the language.

  • James Bland

    Can’t seem to get it to work with my Google Apps for Business account. That account is grayed out in the list of available accounts. I do have the option of using my free Google Apps account though.

    • Pedro Rodriguez

      Yeah, Google tends to do that. When they release a feature, it is rarely available for Business right away. Makes sense, they are actually making (direct) money off of the Business apps, so they want them to be as polished as possible.

      Though I don’t know if Business will get, or even need, Now. It is pretty much a personal thing.

      • You need to look at the ‘Mobile’ section of your Google Apps admin and enable Google Now – immediately after that you can select the Google Apps account on your phone for Google Now.

        • jcole

          Thanks you for this post. I spent a couple of hours trying to figure this out. Had Web History enabled but did not know about the Google Now setting in the admin panel. I owe you a drink if you’re ever in Central VA

        • grellanl

          Thanks! I’d been looking for that. Weird it’s not enabled by default.

  • bmhalula

    HELP!!! I accidentally hit no, maybe later in google now. How do I go back to it??

    • WestIndiesKING

      just hit the 3 dots when you do a search to get into the settings and turn it on

      • BTU

        What three dots? I have a Samsung S3 and I don’t see thee dots anywhere.

        • Jamie

          Search for something and then click whatever. The three settings dots at the bottom right hand corner will be there and you can change your Google Now settings. I did the same thing.

  • Niki Caligiuri

    I’ve set up as this says be my “edit teams” is still greyed out and won’t work… any suggestions?

    • BufordT79

      Make sure your Web history is enabled. Then do a search for a team that is currently in season( baseball at the moment). It should show up soon and you’ll be able to click on the edit button. Web history is essential for this!

      • Knightfall

        I’ve run searches for Winnipeg Blue Bombers several times and it won’t let me enter them in. Maybe CFL isn’t popular enough since it’s only Canadian.

        Winnipeg Jets worked though since they’re part of the NHL.

  • Jason Kit

    Any ported Google Now apk available for ICS ROM??

    • wlmeng11

      Now there is.

  • TGoosh

    I have a allowed everything turned all location services on and cannot get any other card to show but the weather one. I constantly search my favorite sports teams and have Calender events but nothing shows at all. Any ideas?

  • Nick Capozzi

    When I click the settings for the sports tab, I can’t “edit teams”. Why?

    • Paul

      I have this same issue, why wont it let me edit my team or let me change my team or add a new team?

      • Andrew Kwame Awere

        you have to search for the team you want to show up on the cards first through google. then go to edit teams and the team you want will be there

        • goonie

          doesn’t support college!

          • CardcaptorRLH85

            Yeah, this is my problem too T_T

  • Arsh

    hi wahted to know if google now is available in galaxy note2 ???

    • shayne

      I sure hope it will be…

  • TimJM

    I’m not seeing where it how to enter home and work locations in maps, could you be more specific please?

    • Keri0527

      Upper left click maps,then my places,from here you can enter home and work. Took me awhile to find it too.

      • art

        I dont even have to set it up, day 3 I use jelly beans, it already now my home and my work place

      • A1rh3ad

        But I have multiple jobs and each have different locations that I need to report to. Also, I would like to incorporate my delivery routes. Is this possible or am I asking too much out of it?

  • jy

    I’ve turned off google now and I tried to turn it on but there i can’t turn it on

  • Phil the Trainer

    It would be nice (because it’s essential) to be able to make appointments in my calender from it!

  • OtticO

    How can I install on my original nexus one and will it work?

  • atatata

    It’s totally useless.okk…weather information might be relevant in the morning when I wake up but all other information it continuously pushes to me is totally irrelevant. Why do I need a bus schedule if I am in a cafeteria which is admittedly not so far from a bus stop but I never use bus! All other info it pushes is the same crap as bus schedule. I think it’s a joke, not a virtual assistent.

    • Dalton McVey

      Have you tried going into the settings, where you can choose what type of things are relevant for you? There’s a handy feature for turning off the bus stop detection/schedules if that’s not your cup of tea.

      Have some self-respect, do some research before you act a fool.

  • Larry Johnson

    calendar events for the day do not appear in NOW. Calendar is shared with my mobile device via -> settings -> mobile. How can I get the events to appear in now?

  • marky rob

    How do you change the setting. Like when I say “play music”, I want to have options and not just play the music…. nexus 7 uk

  • Mike

    Is there a way to have two work addresses in Google Now?

  • andres muñoz medina

    Google now always open chrome and I don’t know why. For example if I say call William, it recognizes what I’m saying but it opens chrome with that query instead of showing the contact info of William any help

  • Sensible Human

    Another way for the man to keep tabs on you and your data to become available to corporations for exploitation… Sounds great!

  • ike

    how do i see that summary page of where i spend my time in location history? i can only see information per day

  • Chris Burnside

    I can’t take it anymore! My Google now refuses to talk! I’ve done all the right settings. Could it be my custom ROM I’ve installed? Cause I’m not about to give this ROM up!

    • anon

      NOT SURE your phone but my husband had same problem on his, which is exact same as mine, i clicked center button on the galaxy 4s, 2 or 3 times quickly. it opens up voice search also. it is different but once i played with it, it helped fix google now to speak back to me. when asked the time previously, it loaded search web pages about time but now vocally states the time! hope this helps

    • Joe Blow

      Go in Google now,settings,voice,talkback is defaulted to informative only,check always if you want it to say everything not just “informative” which is ex- “Google, what time is it” and answer of “the time is…..” Would be an example of informative answer. Try that, I’m running Meanbean and it works. Avatar ROM, and Viper ROM works to. I’m sure all others (jellybean) work to. I can only vouche for jellybean bc I have the newest evo lte and haven’t tried on older hardware and android OS’s..

  • Nick Perkins

    When i say anything e.g. “What was the football score last night?” it will just search the web, I know it does that anyway but where are the cards, pretty much anything I ask it, it will search the web

  • xarlo

    I have an s3 and i dont see those cards. What do i do?

  • John C

    my canadian SGN2 Google now did not speak back out of the box so i did some searching and found the fix right here and works fine.

  • manu

    Why my google now do to speak?

  • manu

    Why my google now do not speak ?

  • marko

    Can somebody help me i hit setings and there is now cards options at all.Htc one x jelly bean 4.1

  • It doesnt work on my phone. It says that my administrator must activate it for my domain… Its my job`s domain i use as gogle account.. but everything is activated on the administrators settings.. Where do we fix this ?

  • Don

    I can’t get the Activity Summmary card to show up. I think it is supposed to show up once each month, but mine never does. How can I get it to work?

  • Tricky

    O.K a little tip for people that can not hear a voice, this was driving me mad. Found this to be the same on both Galaxy S3 and HTC one X+. Ask the question “whats the weather today” wait for the weather screen to pop up then hit the volume up button. There is also another trick on models that have not been updated, which is in the text-to-speech setting in the phones settings. ie, settings -> language and input then I can’t remember which one but one of them you have to go into and turn the volume up. Hope it helps.

  • pjcamp

    Weather disappeared. Upcoming appointments disappeared. Shipment notifications come and go. Turning it off and on doesn’t change this behavior. Apparently, Google wants to algorithmically decide what I need to know. I have little use for something doesn’t allow me to say “always show this” and then have it always show. I shouldn’t have to search for weather a thousand times to train it to always show the damn weather.

    • Shawn

      Hi, did you ever figure this out? I have the same thing. I can not turn it back on. Please help…

      • pjcamp

        Nope. I quit using it. There are other apps for which it is obvious how to tell it what to do rather than waiting for them to guess right.

  • Shawn

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE HELP! :) Thanks! Weather disappeared. Upcoming appointments disappeared. Shipment notifications come and go. Turning it off and on doesn’t change this behavior. Apparently, Google wants to algorithmically decide what I need to know. I have little use for something doesn’t allow me to say “always show this” and then have it always show. I shouldn’t have to search for weather a thousand times to train it to always show the damn weather.

  • civilclerk1

    Just got my phone yesterday and there are NO cards that show up and the settings are all correct. What in the world?? How does this thing work?

  • Jackie

    I can’t find Google Now in Play Store so can’t even install it! Can anyone help me?

  • Kristjan Adojaan

    I have problem with Events card – it displays events from (all?) calendars I have synced in mobile. I need to have them in phone (for example kids’ school schedules), but I do not need to appear as cards. I would like to select which calendars are used to populate cards and which are not. Does anyone know if it is possible?

  • Kristjan Adojaan

    I have problem with Events card – it displays events from (all?) calendars I have synced in mobile. I need to have them in phone (for example kids’ school schedules), but I do not need to appear as cards. I would like to select which calendars are used to populate cards and which are not. Does anyone know if it is possible?

  • MOTOROLA DROID 4 – cant even locate how to access Google now… cant swipe from home screen and pressing the search button only brings me to Google Voice… any ideas?

    • F Young

      If what you mean by Google Voice is a wide but short “Google” field on your home screen that has a microphone icon on the right, that microphone is Google Now. Click on the microphone and speak.
      If you do not have the microphone icon, you may need to download the Google Now app from Google Play, or update your phone. I think Google Now only works on Android 4.1 and up..

  • Bhavhanda

    How to access google now faster on Xperia SL???

    • taha

      Finally somebody else in the world with xperia SL. Its pretty simple. You just put the widget in your home screen and tap the mike. Or you can get a custom launcher and assign swiping up to the voice search. But you must be updated to jb. You can do this by using the sony PC companion. And for any one that reads this, when I talk/ type, Google now says everything I type! When I type “what’s the weather today” it tells me the weather and then,
      “What’s the weather today Google search”. This not only with weather its with everything! Plz help

  • Cornan

    I stopped reading this article. As a tutorial, many of the steps are too vague to be helpful, just saying “launch” and “select”, without giving any hint as to where to find the items to be launched or selected.

  • Mochi F.

    my friend changed the domain on my google now app and now it has stopped working. it was set to use my personal email account and she tried to add my school account. how do i fix this? the app just says that it’s turned off for this domain.

  • casey

    I swiped away all my cards an on tha app it says no carda I can’t get it to come back wht do I do

  • Milo

    Why does the map feature showing me how long it will take to get home in Google Now suck? I’ve been using it for 2 months now. It to me could be the most useful feature of Google Now and instead it is the worst. It tells me my time to home, but it tells me only the LONGEST possible route I could take in terms of time, not the shortest one. I can’t figure out why it’s picking that route. I never picked it myself. And I can’t get it to show me the time to home by any other route.

  • icestorm

    I’m using Jelly Bean on my Samsung Galaxy s2. I’ve opted into Google Now for the first time with all the software that originally came on the phone from T-Mobile. I had to update to jelly bean thru T-Mobile. I’ve checked all my settings and Google Now will not speak to me. Any other suggestions? Thank you!

  • Amy

    Always show Google gapps has stop.

  • GreyWolfe217

    I am trying to set up my Google now, but when it asks me to say “OK Google now” it gives me an impossibly short time span to say it and tells me it didn’t catch it. Help?


    gay wont work on my phone so it is lame

  • Gerald (Gerry) Rains

    Is there a way to make a permanent temperature change? My GN 10 came with Celsius as the default, and since I live in the USA where Fahrenheit is used, I would like make Fahrenheit the default.

  • the_one86

    I don’t see half of these things (such as travel, next appointment, public transit) in the app on either my android tablet or smartphone. I also don’t see sample cards. This is really frustrating because people keep telling me how many cool things Google Now can do, and when I try to do them I just end up spending a half hour getting more and more frustrated. What’s really getting to me is that I can go to this web page: to see all the things I want to do, yet when it comes to actually being able to do those things my devices are apparently incapable. Any suggestions?

  • Jillxz

    I have the Verizon LG G2 and it doesn’t have those settings.

  • Lisha

    My phone had to have some troubleshooting and had to be reset, now my Google now will not enable. All of my information is still saved but nothing shows up on my Google page. And yes the Google now button is on.

  • LibertyToad

    I stopped reading after this offensive statement: “Now you privacy folks you’ll need to remove your tin foil hats for the next part”.