How do I use Google Now properly

How to use Voice Search and Google Now in Chrome on your desktop

Chrome is gradually becoming a platform; and some of Android's best features are making their way to Windows. With voice search and Google Now support, Google has beaten Microsoft's own Cortana service for Windows.

With these features, you can search and ask questions with your voice, just like you would on a phone - you can even listen to your browser to say Google is OK. You can also view Google Now notifications without pulling out your phone.

Voice search

To do a voice search, open a new tab in Chrome (press Ctrl + T) or visit the Google homepage at Click the microphone icon in the search bar.

Google starts listening. Just talk to your microphone. You can speak a search term instead of typing it, or ask a question like "How many people live on earth?" When you're done, you don't have to click anything. Just stop talking and Google will know you're done.

If nothing happens when you speak, make sure your microphone is set correctly. If you don't have a microphone and are using a laptop, this is fine. Most likely your laptop has a built-in microphone that is used by default.

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Google does the search you talked about. If you've asked a question, Google even speaks the results to you - just like doing a voice search on a smartphone or tablet.

The search engine will also use some clever tricks when performing certain types of searches. For example, you can ask who the President of the United States is and Google will give you the answer. You can then click the voice search icon and ask how old he is. Google will tell you the age of the president and deduce who you're talking about from your previous searches.

Voice search always listening

This feature is cool, but not completely hands free. You still have to click a button before you can start your voice search. To skip the click step, you can install the official Google Voice Search Hotword extension (beta) from Google.

This extension only works when starting a search from Say "OK", Google will open this page and Google will start tracking your search. Google will likely use this extension to test the feature and make it available to a wider audience in the future.

Google now

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Chrome has also built in Google Now notifications. These are available in Chrome's notification center. Note that you can only see these notifications if you are also using Google Now on an Android or iOS device.

Under Windows you will find the Notification Center in the taskbar - make sure that you look under the arrow symbol in the taskbar if it is hidden. In Mac OS X, you can find the notification icon in the bar at the top of the screen. On Chrome OS, you can find a notification icon in the lower right corner of your screen.

Click the notification icon. The same type of Google Now notifications will appear on your mobile device. This includes weather information for your current location, driving directions to locations searched for, package tracking information from tracking emails sent to your Gmail address, sports scores, flight information, and more. This is all related to the Google Account you use to sign in to Chrome. So make sure to sign in to Chrome with the same Google account for desktops and Chrome on your Android or iOS device.

Google will add more Google Now cards to Chrome over time.

These features are available in the chrome version of today so you don't need anything special to use them. Of course, they're not as powerful as elsewhere - some Google Now cards aren't available yet, and you can't use Google voice search to perform system-wide actions like you can on an Android device.