When it comes to virtual meetings, Google Meet is a popular option, but the new Google Meet Companion mode makes it even more useful. Now, sharing your screen doesn’t take you away from the meeting – you can use one screen for the meeting and a second one for sharing.
Not happy with the current backdrop in your meetings? Learn how to change the background in Google Meet.
What Is Google Meet Companion Mode?
If you’ve ever been in a meeting and wanted to participate in chat, a poll, or use a whiteboard, you know how frustrating it can be to switch between the interaction and the participant grid. With Companion mode, you don’t have to choose anymore.
You can use a second screen just for screen sharing and meeting activities while using your main screen to view all meeting participants as usual. Only your main screen uses your camera, mic and speakers, cutting down on extra noises, such as tapping the screen or typing on a keyboard as you share with the second screen.
You can easily raise your hand, use individual chat, or share your screen in the meeting without ever losing focus of other meeting participants.
What’s great is that you can use a variety of devices – another computer/laptop, Chromebook, or even a Google Nest Hub Max device – as a second screen. While you can use a mobile device as your primary screen, it can’t be your secondary screen.
Any participant is able to join in Companion mode, so this isn’t restricted to the meeting leader. However, if you’re hosting, use Companion mode for all your hosting controls.
Others will know you’re in this mode, as your name will say “Companion mode” underneath it. Remember that you won’t see the participant grid on your secondary screen to make room for other activities.
Overall, think of it as a productivity feature that lets you accomplish more. Google’s been on a productivity kick recently, even adding more productive features to Chromebooks. Companion mode is already built in to Google Meet, so there’s nothing extra to install or enable.
Tip: learn how to record your online meetings, even if you’re not the host.
Join a Meeting in Companion Mode
All you need is the meeting code or link to use Google Meet Companion mode. If you’re the host, once you create the meeting room, you’ll use the link to join as a Companion if you want. You’ll join the meeting normally on your primary screen. On your secondary screen, do the following:
- From a meeting invite or link, click the link then “Use Companion mode” under “Other joining options.”
- If you’ve copied the link in your browser versus using an invite, you’ll need to click “Ask to use Companion mode” to join the meeting.
Another method is to use the Google Meet Companion mode link after you’ve already joined on your main screen.
- Go to the Companion mode site.
- Enter the meeting link and press “Start Companion.”
What You Can Do With Companion Mode
Now that you have a second screen with no people on it, what can you actually do with it? When the screen loads, you’ll notice it looks almost identical to a normal Google Meet meeting but without participant tiles.
Obviously, you can participate in chat with everyone or select individuals to send messages to. Just close the chat window if that’s not what you’re using Companion mode for.
There’s also a handy message in the middle of the screen letting you know what else you can do, such as:
- Participate in a virtual whiteboard
- Raise your hand
- Share your screen
- Host a presentation
While you can do all of this on your primary screen, it’s easier to continue interacting with other meeting participants if you can see them on your primary screen. Plus, without your camera or mic turned on, there’s no pesky audio feedback.
If you’re hosting, you can keep your hosting controls on the second screen to make room on your primary screen to see participants, especially with larger groups.
Tip: headset mic picking up headset audio? Learn how to fix this issue.
Participating in Companion Mode
Just like in a normal meeting, you’ll use the icons at the bottom of the screen to participate.
From left to right, the buttons allow you to do the following:
- Share your camera: this is ideal if your primary device’s camera isn’t working right.
- Turn on closed captions: get real-time text of what’s being said. Usually, this is best to use on your primary screen. However, if you’re using a smaller screen for the primary, you may prefer using closed captions on a larger secondary screen.
- Raise your hand: easily raise your hand to get the speaker’s attention without interrupting them. This is also ideal for small classes. If you need an alternative to Google Classroom, try these other LMS options.
- Present: share your screen. Choose from the entire screen, a window, or just a browser tab.
- Adjust settings, troubleshoot, and report issues.
- Leave call.
If there are other activities available, you’ll need to click the Activities icon at the bottom right to view them.
Wondering how much bandwidth video calling uses? We have the answer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I tell when others are using Companion mode?
Yes. If you’re concerned about participants using Google Meet Companion mode without your permission, it’s obvious when they use it. First of all, their avatar will show “Companion” under it. Secondly, a green icon appears on the meeting screen showing that one or more people are using this mode.
Do Companion users count toward the participant limit?
Yes. Each extra device counts as another participant. Keep this in mind when deciding how many people to invite to a meeting.
Does Companion mode work on tablets?
Google Meet hasn’t released Companion mode for iOS or Android yet, meaning you can’t use tablets or phones running these systems. It’s possible that the feature will release at a later date, but for now, it’s limited to the devices mentioned earlier.
Why aren't some options available in Companion mode?
Some features and options aren’t available in all Google Workspace editions. If you’re not sure what is and isn’t available, use these Google Meet charts to compare editions and features.
Can't I just use Companion mode instead of using two screens?
No. Companion mode doesn’t have audio or video, and you can’t talk to anyone, so it’s useless on its own, as you don’t know what’s actually happening in the meeting. The only thing you have available to talk to others is the text-based chat window. For video meetings, you really do need a primary screen. Companion mode is just a companion to spread out activities and features a little better.
Image credit: Pexels
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