The most common Google Hangouts problems and how to fix them

When technology works right, it enriches our lives in ways nothing else can. When it doesn’t, though, most of us get frustrated and do not know where to start troubleshooting. If you’ve had trouble with Google Hangouts, we’re here for you.

Having used it for quite some time, we’ve put together our list of the most common issues with Google Hangouts and how to fix them. Whether you can’t get your camera connected or have glitches while inviting new friends, find out how to correct them here.

Further reading

I can’t send a message from my computer or I can’t make or receive calls

Messaging and calling is the core experience of Google Hangouts, and it really can be frustrating if these functions won’t work right for you. No need to worry though, as there are some fixes for this problem.

Typically, when you can’t send a message or make a call from Google Hangouts on your computer, the error could be related to a server problem. As you send your message, it won’t go through to the receiver and you’ll see a red circle with a black exclamation mark in the middle.

If this is the case, you want to check your internet connection on your device and try sending the message again. We’ve got a guide that can help. You can also try connecting to another website first to see if the internet connection is solid.

In the event that you get this error, your message might not be stored in your conversation history. The message might also not show on other devices. Finally, if your contact isn’t online, they might not see the message when they sign in.

If you’re still experiencing problems, the issue might be related to Google’s own Hangouts servers. Google recommends for you to wait for a few minutes, then try the message again. You also can try signing out and signing back in. You can do this by clicking your profile picture on the top-right corner of the screen, and clicking Sign Out.

My webcam won’t work, or people can’t hear me on the call

Video and audio problems are some of the most common for a videoconferencing service like Google Hangouts. If this is the case, there are a couple of things you need to check.

First, make sure that you’ve granted Google Hangouts permission to use your webcam and microphone. This can be done by clicking the Allow prompt when you first start up the service.

You also might want to check to see that Google Hangouts is using the right webcam and microphone. You can do this by clicking the three downward-facing dots in the top-right corner of the screen. Next, click Settings. Under Video, you’ll want to make sure that your webcam is showing up there, and choose it from the list. In our case, it is Surface Camera. If your webcam or microphone isn’t showing up, try downloading the drivers from your laptop or PC maker or contact them for help.

Lastly, make you haven’t given camera or microphone access to a different application. That will block Google Hangouts from accessing either input source.

I can’t use hangouts on Firefox

Mozilla Firefox

If you’re having problems using Google Hangouts on Firefox, there’s a simple reason why. Classic Google Hangouts video calls will no longer work in the Firefox browser.

According to Google, this is because Firefox no longer supports plug-ins that are required for classic Hangout voice and video calls.  As a solution, it’s recommended to switch to a supported browser like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

This sucks for those of us who’ve switched to Firefox for privacy concerns, but for Hangouts, it’s a no-go.

My web browser freezes when I share my screen in Google Hangouts

If your web browser is freezing when sharing your screen during a Google Hangouts call, the problem is likely on your end. This can happen if you’re using an incompatible video adapter, video driver, or audio adapter. If you’re on Windows, you’ll want to try upgrading the drivers for your video adapter.

Getting an updated adapter is fairly straightforward. Start by right-clicking the Start Menu, choosing Device Manager and double-clicking on Display adapters to expand it out.

Next, right click on the entry under Display Adapters and choose Update Driver. Choose Search automatically for updated driver software and have Windows find the right software for you.

I am getting the the ‘Trying to reconnect’ error

Another common error on Google Hangouts is the “Trying to reconnect” error. The error means that your computer is trying to connect to the server, but can’t.

If you’re getting this error, then it’s probably an internet connection issue on your end. You’ll only get your messages once you’ve connected to Google Hangouts again.

As a fix, Google recommends checking your internet connection. Follow the typical routine of trying another website, turning off your Wi-Fi and then back on again, and checking your router connection, if all else fails. Another possibility is that your IT administrator could be limiting your network to block Google’s domains. The domains * or may need to be allowed to let you connect to Google’s server.

I can’t install the Google Hangouts plug-in

The Google Hangouts plug-in is a great (but older) way to use the service if you’re not using a modern browser like Google Chrome. It’s available on older versions of Safari and Internet Explorer.  Typically, if the plug-in isn’t working, you’ll have to try to turn it on manually. It’s also worth noting that the plug-in is not needed if you’re using Chrome.

To turn on the Google Hangouts plug-in on Safari manually, you’ll want to launch the browser first. You then need to visit the menu on the top, click Preferences, followed by Security, and then Plug-in Settings. Look for the Google Hangouts plug-in on the list and make sure it is allowed.

If you’re still having issues, it’s best to try and refresh your browser page. You also might want to close or refresh your browser and re-open it. You also can try to uninstall, then download and reinstall the Hangouts plug-in. If all else fails, you can try Hangouts in Google Chrome.

Editors' Recommendations