Google Home’s new wake word sensitivity setting should work for Google Home and Google Nest speakers as well as Nest Hub smart displays.


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Hey, Google, can you hear me? Now your Google Home can. The search giant is officially rolling out new controls that let you adjust the sensitivity of your smart speaker to its wake word. That means you can fine-tune your Google Home ($49 at Walmart) or Nest devices to pick up “Hey, Google” and “OK, Google” commands only when you’re actually talking to it. Not only is that more convenient, it leaves less of your data in the cloud.

You may have opted in to the Voice & Audio Activity setting in your Google account. Google says turning it on can help your smart speaker understand your voice better over time, which is great. But Google stores every verbal interaction you have with your Google Home device, forever unless you tell it otherwise. If your Google Home thinks you’re talking to it when you’re not, it might store clips of those eavesdropped conversations online.

Hopefully, Google Home’s new sensitivity setting will curb these unintentional triggers, better protecting not just your privacy, but also your sanity. Here’s what you need to know about the new feature.

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Google Home smart speakers’ microphones are engineered to be especially sensitive so they can hear you from across the room or in another part of the house.


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The update is ‘rolling out’ in ‘coming weeks’

The update was announced in a blog post on April 23, where Google says it will be “rolling out” the feature over the next few weeks. Google’s release of updates like this can be somewhat haphazard, so while some users may see the new setting in their Google Home app this week or next, others may have to wait a bit longer. 

If you don’t see it on yours, check your phone’s app store to see if it’s been updated (here’s how to do that on iPhone, and here are instructions for Android). If it has the latest update and still no sensitivity setting, you’ll just have to wait for the next update.

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Kitchens can get noisy, so you may want to increase sensitivity to your Google Home speakers there.


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Hey, Google, why so sensitive?

If the sensitivity setting is available, here’s how to adjust it:

1. Open the Google Home app and find the device whose wake word sensitivity you’d like to change. It should work with the OG Google Home, Google Home Mini ($39 at Crutchfield) and Home Max, and Nest Hub ($99 at Walmart) and Hub Max.

2. Tap the device you want to adjust, then tap Settings (the gear icon) in the upper right corner.

3. Scroll down and under Device Settings tap Hey Google sensitivity.

4. Drag the slider higher to make Google Home more likely to hear your voice and lower to make it less likely. When you get it just right, back out and adjust your other speakers if necessary.

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Consider mounting your Google Home Mini on the wall to get better sound and so it can hear you better.


Dale Smith/CNET

Now that you can adjust the wake word sensitivity on your Google Home speaker, you can put it just about anywhere. For example, try hanging it on the wall for better sound. And whether you’re a new Google Home user or an old pro, you won’t regret changing these five settings. Google Home has come a long way since its early days playing catch-up with Alexa, but these three annoyances prove it’s still not perfect.

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