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Google Hangouts Not Working? Here’s How to Fix its Problems

Video conferencing apps have seen a massive surge in usage amid the ongoing pandemic. Whether you work from home or simply want to keep in touch with your friends and family, services like Zoom, Skype, Slack, and Microsoft Teams have our backs.
However, Google Hangouts and Google Meet (formerly known as Google Hangouts Meet) remain two of the most popular free-to-use options among users. However, they have their fair share of technical problems, causing interruptions during important team meetings and hampering their workflows. Chances are you also have wasted a considerable amount of time troubleshooting the issues. But if you still can’t get Hangouts to work properly, you are at the right place.
This guide covers a list of the most common problems users encounter with Hangouts and its newer counterpart– Google Meet. We have provided various workarounds for you to fix them.

Can’t send messages

One of the most common issues of Hangouts and Meet is related to messages. If you see a red warning logo when sending a message from the mobile app or web client, here are a few things you should try:

  • Sign out and in of Hangouts, then check if the problem persists.
  • Make sure your device has internet access over either Wi-Fi, cellular, or Ethernet connection.
  • Clearing the cache and data on the Chrome browser might also work. Here’s what you need to do:
    • Open a new Chrome window and visit the action () menu on the top-right corner.
    • Next, hover over More tools and click Clear browsing data.
    • After that, check the box next to Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files.
    • Finally, click the Clear data button. Note: You will get signed out of all sites except Google after deleting all the stored cookies on Chrome. Thus, you may need to enter your credentials to log in to sites and services you regularly use.

It’s worth mentioning that Google will eventually strip Hangout’s chat messaging functionality after replacing it with Google Chat this year. Though at the time of writing, chatting with other contacts on Google appears to still work in Hangouts.

No notifications when receiving messages or calls

Due to an unsolved bug, users miss out on important messages and calls on Hangouts. The problem seems consistent across both the mobile app and web client. If you also happen to have this particular issue on your mobile, consider trying out the following steps:

  1. First, launch the Hangouts app on your phone.
  2. Tap or click the three-lined burger () icon at the upper-left corner and select Settings.
  3. Next, choose your Google account (the one you use for Hangouts) from the “Account” section.
  4. Now select Messages under the “Notification” section. It will open up the system notification settings menu.
    Note that the process may vary after this step depending on the device you use.
  5. Expand the Advanced category and choose Sound from the following options.
  6. Finally, change the notification sound to something else.

If you have the same issue with incoming calls, select Incoming calls instead of Messages in Step 4, then repeat the following steps.
Unfortunately, those who use the Hangouts Chrome extension have no choice but to remove and reinstall it to fix the notification problem.

The camera doesn’t work

We all have faced the issue where the Hangouts or Meet desktop client would get stuck on the “Camera is starting” message when trying to make a video call. Relaunching the client usually fixes it, but it doesn’t resolve the problem for some users. Check out the below fixes:

  • Make sure to update your Google Chrome browser to the latest version. Simply head over to Settings > About Chrome or visit chrome://settings/help from the address bar.
  • If you still encounter the problem, try using another Chromium-based browser like Microsoft Edge, Brave, or Vivaldi.
    Note that Mozilla Firefox only supports Google Meet and not the classic Hangouts since it has stopped supporting a few obsolete plug-ins the Hangouts extension uses.
  • The issue is most relevant among people who use a PC/laptop with both integrated and discrete graphics. For example, NVIDIA Optimus allows laptops to switch between their graphics adapters to conserve power and provide the best battery life.
    If your PC or laptop has an NVIDIA graphics card, go to NVIDIA Control Panel > Manage 3D settings > Program Settings, select Google Chrome (chrome.exe) from the drop-down list, and then enable NVIDIA High-Performance GPU for the app. It should resolve the following issue.
  • Also, make sure your video drivers are updated to the latest version.

Green tint issue during video calls

Many Hangouts web client users have reported the green tint issue during video calls. While the audio seems to work perfectly, people on both ends of the call can’t see each other. Fortunately, you can get around it by following the steps below.

  1. First, launch the Chrome browser and click the three-dot kebab () icon at the top-right corner.
  2. Go to Settings from the drop-down menu, then scroll to the bottom and expand the Advanced options.
  3. Now scroll down to the “System” section and disable the “Use hardware acceleration when available” feature.
  4. If you can’t find the option, enter chrome://flags/#disable-accelerated-video-decode in the address bar and disable the highlighted Chrome flag.

If you are using macOS, a reboot should also fix the issue. However, the green tint issue has been widespread among Mac users since a recent macOS update, so a software fix might be on its way.

Browser freezes/crashes during screen sharing

Quite a few users have ended up with a frozen browser window when trying to share their screens with someone else on the call. It can occur due to several reasons, but it’s generally associated with a video driver or graphics adapter problem.
In this case, updating or reinstalling your video driver is the only solution. The easiest way to do this is to go to Control Panel > Device Manager > Display adapters, right-click your primary display adapter, and then select the Update driver option.
If you think a new video driver is causing the issue, consider rolling back to the previous driver version.

Chrome causing video/audio problems

Most virtual conferencing apps are susceptible to video and audio issues, with Hangouts and Google Meet being no exception. For example, you can hear and see others on a call, but others can’t hear or see you. Or, the microphone and webcam simply stop working for unknown reasons after a few minutes into the call.
If you run into a similar issue, we recommend rejoining the call or meeting. However, it’s a temporary fix, so the Chrome browser or the extension itself might be the problem. You should start with removing the classic Hangouts extension and adding it back from the Chrome Web Store.
According to some Reddit users, switching to Chrome Beta also does the job, fixing most of the current video and audio problems on Hangouts and Meet. If you use the following services on your Windows or macOS computer, you may give the beta version of Chrome a try.

Stuck on the “Trying to reconnect” message

If you see the “Trying to reconnect” error message when trying to access Hangouts, give the following fixes a try:

  • Ensure your device is connected to the internet over an active Wi-Fi, cellular, or Ethernet connection.
  • Log out and in of Hangouts. Try relaunching the app or extension as well.
  • Contact the office network administrator and make sure the following domains are open:
    • clients4.google.com
    • client-channel.google.com

If you can’t access Hangouts on either mobile or computer, contact your internet service provider. A poor internet connection or routing issues often cause certain Google services to stop working.

Fix Hangouts/Meet Android app issues

You can easily resolve most of the problems with the classic Hangouts or the new Google Meet Android app by clearing its cache and data. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps > See all apps on your Android device to see your apps list. 
  2. Scroll down the apps list to find and select the Hangouts or Google Meet app.
  3. Tap Storage and cache on the following “App info” page.
  4. Finally, tap Clear cache to clear the app cache. To delete app data, tap the Clear storage option.

The above steps apply to devices mainly running a vanilla version of Android, so your mileage may vary.

To conclude

Hangouts and Meet are currently the two most popular cross-platform chat and video-conferencing apps from Google. However, they suffer from a few problems, though some of them are at least user-fixable. We hope you find the following workarounds in this guide helpful and get rid of all the Google Hangouts / Meet problems for good.
Since Google has slowed down the development of Hangouts, new problems may arise and hamper your chat or meeting sessions. Thus, maybe consider switching to Google Meet or Chat before Google finally decides to shut down the classic Hangouts service.


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