There are many reasons why you might want to record a Google Hangout conversation. You may be talking with a customer or client on the Hangout, and want to have access later to everything that was said and decided. Or you may be having a Hangout with distant family and friends, and want to keep a record of the call so you can watch it later. Personally, I conduct a lot of phone interviews as part of my job, and even if I write fast, I can never remember every detail of the conversations. That’s why I record the calls – not for ‘training and quality purposes’ but to remember details and answers to questions I may have missed or can no longer remember. If you want to record Google Hangout conversations, here’s how.
Note that the laws concerning whether or not you can record a Google Hangout conversation vary from state to state. In the United States, in some states, all parties to a conversation must be made aware that a recording is being made. In other states, only party (which can be you) needs to be aware. In any event, be sure that you are following the applicable laws in your state or other jurisdiction. To be completely ethical, it’s probably best that you always inform everyone in a conversation that there’s going to be a recording, and make sure you have their permission to be recording them.
There are a lot of ways to record a Google Hangout, but in my opinion, the two best ways are to use YouTube Live or to use Snagit. Both work very well and both offer decent quality recording of both voice and video. That makes them ideal for recording conversations for any reason whatsoever.
Record Google Hangout conversations with YouTube Live
While your initial reaction might be horror at having a Hangout conversation on YouTube, you can make the video completely private and only allow people you authorize to see it. The benefit of YouTube Live is that it is browser-based and will work on any device that has a camera and microphone. So whether you use a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, the recording works in exactly the same way.
Log into YouTube and select your portrait from the top right. Select Creator Studio and wait for the new window to appear. If you haven’t created a channel already, you’ll be prompted to do so at this time. From here, select Live Streaming from the left menu and then Events. Click on Enable Live Streaming and then Create Live Event. In this next menu, you’ll need to set a time and description, if you wish. Select either public in the radio box or Private, if you just want to keep a recording of the video without publicly sharing it to YouTube. Unlisted will allow you to share it with others but not make it available for public search.
Make sure Type is set to Google Hangouts on Air. Select the blue Go live now button in the bottom right. You will see another confirmation window telling you that you are about to go live. After that, select Start Hangouts on Air in the next window. Once you hit Start Hangouts on Air, you should see the usual YouTube window with a comment section in the right. You and the other party will be in the center window and a range of settings options below it. Once complete, select end and your video will be available in the Events window for you to refer back to or share as you see fit.
At the moment, YouTube Live uses extensions which means you will need a browser that supports them for this to work. Currently, that means Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Safari.
Record Google Hangout conversations with Snagit
Snagit is a great tool for capturing screenshots, but as well as grabbing still pictures, Snagit can also capture video and audio. That makes it useful in recording calls, interviews or whatever. If you don’t like the idea of having a recording on YouTube even if its theoretically private (we’ve all seen the horror stories about data piracy), this is an option you should consider. Snagit is available for both Windows and Mac.
- Download and install Snagit. It is free for 15 days, then needs a license.
- Open Snagit and select Video.
- Make sure Share is set to None and Record System Audio is toggled on.
- Select the red Capture button, select the screen where you want to record, and begin the recording.
- Once recording is complete, save the file to your device.
- Open and edit the recording in Snagit as you see fit.
Once installed, Snagit makes it simple to record Google Hangout conversations. The downside is that after your free trial is over, Snagit it is a premium product that costs $49.95 for a single user license. An educational version is available for $29.95, and government or nonprofit users can get a license for $42.95. If you want to take things up a notch, Camtasia by the same company is a professional-level video recording app but costs a steep $249.
Setting up to record Google Hangout conversations
Now you know what tools to use to record Google Hangout conversations, how about setting up the right conditions to create a great recording? Whether you’re recording a call between friends, a complaint call to a company, or a phone interview, setting the scene and making sure you’re in the right space can make all the different to the quality of the recorded call.
If you’re using video as well as audio, setting the right lighting is essential. Webcams and phone cameras don’t always adjust to rapid changes in light very well so it’s best to stay still if you can and to have predictable lighting that illuminates your face but not too much. You don’t need to be in a professional studio or a darkened room, but for best results the space should be somewhere that the light won’t change too much or too quickly. I tend to record in my office, but a coffee shop or outside location can work as long as you shoot somewhere shaded.
Webcams and smartphones can also have very sensitive microphones that will pick up all sorts of ambient noise. You will want to minimize that as much as possible. While you can record a conversation in a coffee shop, be aware that the noise of cups, spoons and coffee machines could prove a distraction. We aren’t always aware of it as we are so used to it in our daily life, but on camera those noises may be very noticeable. You will need to be purposely aware of it if setting up a recording.
Finally, if you’re recording video, using the rule of thirds when framing the interview will make for a much better production. Ideally, if interviewing someone for broadcast or streaming, you want them in one third of the frame with the other two thirds as background. You want a static background wherever possible so as not to distract. Moving backgrounds are fine as long as they are not exciting or too fast moving. You want the subject to be the star of the show, not what’s going on behind them!
That’s how you can record Google Hangout conversations. Got any other apps we can use for recording Hangouts? You know what to do – let us know below!