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Common Google Hangouts problems and how to fix them

Quickly get back to your chats and video calls with these Google Hangouts fixes.

Published onMay 8, 2022

Hangouts on smartphone stock photo

Update (May 08, 2022): Google has discontinued Hangouts and has automatically moved all users to Google Chat. Some users can still use Hangouts on their phones, but you won't be able to add new contacts or use many Hangouts features.

The pandemic caused a huge surge in the use of video conferencing apps. Be it for work or to keep in touch with friends and family, Google Hangouts — in its classic form as well as Hangouts Meet for business — remains a popular option for many. Unfortunately, like any app or software, Hangouts has its fair share of problems. We take a look at some common issues that users have come across and workarounds to fix them.

Facing other issues with your phone? Check out our guide to fixing some common problems with Android!

Common Hangouts problems:

1. Can’t send messages

Google Hangouts Google Chrome extension

Sometimes messages just can’t seem to go through. You could be getting a red error icon with an exclamation mark whenever you try to send a message. If you ever encounter this issue, there are a few things you can try.

How to fix message error problems:

  • Check to make sure you are connected to the internet, whether you are using data, Wi-Fi, or a physical connection.
  • Try signing out and in of Hangouts.

See also: Zoom vs Google Hangouts: See which is better for your needs

2. No notification sound when receiving a message or call

OnePlus Nord notification shadw holding the phone

Users aren’t getting notification sounds when receiving a message or a call on Hangouts and have missed important messages because of this bug. People have come across this issue on both smartphones and on the PC or Mac when using the Hangouts Chrome extension. If you’re seeing this problem on a smartphone, there’s a simple workaround that seems to have worked for many.

How to fix notification sound issue on Google Hangouts:

  • Open the app and tap on the three vertical lines icon at the top left corner.
  • Tap on Settings and then the primary account name.
  • Under the Notifications section, select Messages and open the Sound settings. You might have to first tap on Advanced to get to it.
  • The notification sound may be set to “Default notification sound.” If that’s the case, open this section and change the alert tone to something else. You should now get notification alerts as expected.
  • To fix the problem with incoming calls, repeat the same steps after going to the Notification section and selecting Incoming calls instead of Messages.

Unfortunately, a similar workaround isn’t available if you’re facing this problem on a computer. Some users have found that simply removing and reinstalling the Hangouts Chrome extension seems to do the trick.

3. The camera isn’t working

Sony Xperia 1 II macro of back cameras at angle

Quite a few users are facing this problem where the laptop or PC camera isn’t working during a video call. The app usually gets stuck on the “camera is starting” message. There are a bunch of workarounds that have worked for different people. Unfortunately, some continue to face this issue and the only real option is to wait for a software update.

How to fix camera problems during a Hangouts video call:

  • Fixes for camera issues have been a recurring part of most Google Chrome updates. Some have found that updating the browser to the latest version has helped.
  • A few users are facing this problem because their PCs or laptops have two graphics cards, both integrated and discrete. For example, if you have an NVIDIA graphics card, open the NVIDIA control panel and go to 3D settings. Select Chrome and enable NVIDIA High-Performance GPU. Switching to the NVIDIA graphics card seems to work.
  • Along the same lines, ensure that your video drivers (even if you don’t have two graphics cards in your system) are updated.
  • A lot of users have found that Chrome is the culprit. It’s not very convenient, but simply using another browser works. Firefox only supports Hangouts Meet and not the classic extension anymore though. In the case of the latter, you will have to use Microsoft Edge.

4. Google Chrome causes audio and video problems

Chrome logo on smartphone next to globe

Audio and video problems occur with any video chat app and Hangouts is no different. If you’ve faced such issues when using the Chrome extension, it might be because of other extensions you’ve installed.

For example, some users found that while they could hear others on a call, no one could hear them. If you have a lot of extensions installed, remove them one by one to see if the issue goes away. Unfortunately, you’ll have to choose between Hangouts and that extension if it turns out to be the cause of this problem, until a software update is available.

In some cases, users have found that the mic and audio stop working five minutes into a call. Restarting the call only fixes the problem temporarily. This issue is caused by the Chrome browser and a future software update should address it. Some users have found that switching to Chrome Beta does the trick as well.

See also: The best video conference apps for your phone

5. Browser freezing when you share screen

hangouts featured 1

Many users have faced this issue. Imagine trying to share your screen to show someone what you are seeing in a web browser only to find out the web browser has frozen for an unknown reason. This can happen for a plethora of reasons, but it’s most commonly a video/audio driver or adapter problem. You can try updating your drivers.

To update your drivers on Windows go to Start > Device Manager > Display Adapters > Update Driver.

6. A green screen replaces video during a call

Woman using hangouts video call

Some users have complained about seeing the video replaced with a green screen during a call. The audio remains stable and usable, but neither party can see the other. This problem is only seen by people using Hangouts on a computer. Luckily, there’s a workaround available that has worked for most.

How to solve the green screen issue during a Hangouts video call:

  • Open the Chrome browser. Tap on the three vertical dots icon at the top right corner and open the Settings page.
  • Scroll down and click on Advanced.
  • Scroll down and search for Use hardware acceleration where available and disable this feature.
  • Alternatively, or if you’re using a Chromebook, type chrome://flags into the Chrome address bar.
  • Scroll down or search for Hardware-accelerated video encode and disable it.

A lot of users have come across this problem recently on a Mac. It seems like a Mac OS update has caused the problem, and the only option may is to wait for a software fix.

7. Guide: How to clear app cache and data

Facebook app cache in Settings 1

Clearing the app cache, data, and browser cookies is a good first step for general troubleshooting. You can solve a lot of Hangouts problems by doing this.

How to clear Hangouts cache and data on a smartphone:

  • Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > All apps. Keep in mind that the steps mentioned may be different depending on the phone you have.
  • Scroll down or search for Hangouts and tap on it.
  • Tap on Storage & cache and then select both Clear storage and Clear cache one after the other.

How to clear the cache and data on Chrome

  • Open the browser and click on the three vertical dots icon at the top right corner.
  • Go to More tools > Clear browsing data.
  • You can choose a time range, but it might be a good idea to select All time.
  • Check the boxes for Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files.
  • Click on Clear data.
  • In this case, you’re clearing cache and data for the Chrome browser and not just the Hangouts extension. You might have to re-enter passwords and log in to certain sites again.

8. “Trying to reconnect” error

Ethernet vs Wi Fi stock photo 2

There’s a common issue in which sometimes Google Hangouts shows a consistent “Trying to reconnect” error message.

How to fix “Trying to reconnect” error:

  • Check to make sure you are connected to the internet, whether you are using data, Wi-Fi, or a physical connection.
  • Try signing out and in of Hangouts.
  • Make sure these domains aren’t blocked by the administrator:
    • *

Set it to the lower setting if the Internet connection is poor or you want to save data. Users may not see the best video, but the audio will be stable and the video won’t lag or be choppy.

Read also: What to do if your phone won’t connect to Wi-Fi

9. Hangouts not working on Firefox browser

Mozilla Firefox Preview Android Authority website photo on the HONOR View 20.

If you are having Google Hangouts problems with Firefox browser, you are not alone. In fact, this is the only problem that has no real solution. Apparently, Firefox has stopped supporting certain plug-ins required to use Google Hangouts. Your only solution would be to download a supported browser like Google Chrome.

Guide: Difference between classic Hangouts and Hangouts Meet

Hangouts Meet on smartphone stock photo

Google announced plans back in 2017 to stop supporting classic Hangouts and switch to Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Hangouts Meet, recently renamed to Google Meet, was first available to users with G Suite accounts, but everyone with a Gmail account can start a meeting now.

Read next: Hangouts vs Skype: The differences and similarities