In 2014, Google enabled hands-free, always-on voice search in the desktop version of Chrome, the company’s popular web browser. However, Google removed this feature in 2015 due to its low use and impact on laptop battery life, though it’s still a main feature on Chromebooks.
But all is not lost. You can still conduct voice searches in Chrome for desktop using a simple click. You can also enable hands-free voice search on your mobile devices via the Google app. Here’s how to enable hands-free voice search in Google Chrome.
A note on Assistant chaos
Google Assistant is highly convenient (and fun). On Chromebooks and Android devices, it’s similar to using Cortana on Windows 10 and Siri on MacOS. However, if you own stand-alone Google Home devices, like the Mini, search chaos may ensue.
For instance, if you request the weather, the response may blast from a nearby Home device instead. Since you want to see and hear the results on your mobile device or PC, having the information pumped through another device isn’t ideal.
If you want results exclusively on your mobile device or PC, we suggest closing a door or moving it (or the Home device) to another location so both aren’t listening to your command.
Desktop method: How to conduct a voice search in Google Chrome
Step 1: Open Google Chrome and/or open a new tab if necessary
Open Google Chrome, and if it opens directly to the Google search homepage, go on to step two. If not, be sure to open a new tab in Chrome by tapping the Plus Sign icon to the right of your existing tabs.
Step 2: Tap the microphone icon in the Google search bar
On the Google search homepage, tap on the Microphone icon that’s located within the right side of the search bar.
Step 3: Say your question or command
After tapping on the microphone, you’ll be taken to another screen in which Chrome will wait for you to issue a search command or question. If Chrome doesn’t have access to your microphone, this can prevent you from using voice search via the Chrome browser. To enable access to your microphone, click on the Video Camera icon (that has a red X) located on the right side of the browser’s address bar. Then select Always Allow https://www.google.com to Access Your Microphone. Then, reload the Google homepage.
Once you’re all set up, just say your command or question clearly and loud enough for the microphone to pick up on it.
Step 4: View your search results
Once Chrome understands your command or question, it should automatically take you to the correct Google search results page to display the information you requested.
Chromebook method: How to conduct a voice search in Chrome OS
Step 1: Enable Google Assistant if it’s not already
Click on the System Clock in the bottom-right corner, followed by the Gear icon displayed on the pop-up menu. The Settings page appears on your screen. Click Search and Assistant listed on the left, and then Google Assistant displayed on the right.
On the following screen, click the Toggle next to Google Assistant to enable this feature (blue) if it’s not already. You’ll also see an OK Google setting with three selections in a drop-down menu: On (Recommended), Always On, and Off. This area is also where you can re-tune your voice match if Google Assistant fails to respond.
Step 2: Say your question or command
With Google Assistant active, just say, “OK Google.” A small pop-up appears over the toolbar asking, “Hi, how can I help?”
In this example, we said, “Show me the weather.” The results appear within the Google Assistant bubble, as shown above. You can click on or speak additional queries for further information.
If you’re performing a specific voice search and want more results, click the small G Search button located in the bottom-right corner, and the Chrome browser appears. You can click on or say additional queries for more results.
Mobile method: How to enable hands-free voice search on mobile via the Google app
You can enable hands-free voice search on your mobile devices, but it’s not done via the Chrome app. It’s done within the Google app. The method is different depending on whether you’re using an Android or an iOS device.
Step 1: Open the Google app and open Settings
For Android, you should open the Google app and then tap the More three dots icon at the bottom-right corner of the screen. Then choose Settings.
For iOS, you should open the Google app, select your Profile Picture icon, and then choose Settings.
Step 2: Enable your Hey Google/OK Google settings
For Android, you should choose Voice. After that, Android users should tap on Voice Match and then toggle on the Hey Google feature, which turns on voice searching for the device. If this is your first time setting up Hey Google on your Android phone, you may need to follow a few on-screen prompts and let Google Assistant listen to your voice to finish setting up the feature.
For iOS, you should select Voice and Assistant. At this point, users are, according to Google, supposed to choose “whether you want to have a voice search start when you say, ‘OK Google.'”
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