How to Fix Google Voice Search not Working

As you all might know, Google has released a voice search mechanism where Google responds to ‘Hey Google’, ‘Hello Google’, etc. and brings about a search window. After the search window opens, it listens for your voice again for any search which you might want to perform. This feature is being implemented in computers, mobiles, smart TV’s, consoles, and smart home modules alike and provides loads of functionality to the user.

Despite this feature being one of the most popular features which Google ever released, it is still faced with difficulties when it fails to work properly or causes bizarre issue such as Google recognizing your voice but not registering the search later on or it refusing to accept your voice at all.

In this article, we will go through all the reasons as to why this issue occurs and what are the remedies that you can perform in order to fix this situation. Make sure that you start with the first solution and work your way down as they are numbered according to complexity and usefulness.

What causes Google Voice Search or ‘Hey Google’ not to Work?

After investigating several user cases, researching on our own and replicating the situation on our devices, we came to the conclusion that this issue occurs due to more than one reason. Some of them are mentioned down below:

  • Backend Servers Down: There are several cases where Google’s service was down itself at the backend. If the service is down, there is nothing you can do except wait for it to be up again.
  • Wrong language settings: There is also a possibility that the language you are speaking doesn’t match with the one fed into Google. By default, English (US) is set but it is always worth checking anyway.
  • Microphone issues: If your very microphone is not working, Google will not be able to register your voice automatically and it would be as if nothing happened at all. Here you can troubleshoot your microphone and check if it is really the cause of the error.
  • Bixby interference: Bixby is a personal assistant operated by Samsung and is available by default in all new Samsung devices. Since Google can also be counted as a personal assistant, there are chances that Bixby is interfering with Google and not letting it operate. Disabling it might diagnose the problem.
  • Internet issues: Whenever you search through ‘Okay Google’, it always uses an internet connection to fetch the results. If you have a bad or limited internet connection, the search will not work at all and stop responding to you.
  • Training issues: Google trains itself with your voice so it can recognize you properly every time. Voice recognition is an issue and requires a lot of Artificial Intelligence so Google trains your model again and again. The voice recognition module being out of sync is a common issue and re-training it usually solves the problem.
  • Different people: Google is set to respond to a specific set of people’s voice of ‘Ok Google’. If someone else is trying to do a voice search, the module will not respond and will stay idle.
  • Bad application data: Google’s voice search is a part of its main application which is installed on your smartphone. If this application gets corrupt or has missing data, the voice functionality will not work. Usually, resetting the application and then reinitializing everything solves the problem.
  • Outdated Google application: Google releases several updates to the application either to fix various bugs or provide additional functionality. If you haven’t updated Google’s application, it is recommended that you do so as soon as possible.
  • Microphone permissions issue: Google tends to ask for permission to use the microphone once you start it for the first time. However, we saw several cases where because of the permissions already granted, the application went into an error state and revoking the permissions so it asks again fixed the problem.
  • Battery saver mode: Several smartphones have the functionality of ‘battery saver’. This mode automatically reduces the consumption of resources by shutting down various applications including Google. If you want Google to respond to your voice, you need to disable the battery saver.
  • Screen context issue: There appears to be a bug where the screen context of Google interferes with the voice search. Performing a series of specific steps solves the problem.
  • Smartphone in error state: Smartphones also tend to go into error states where they don’t respond to many commands properly or even stop the working of some. Power cycling the phone works here.
  • Conflicting applications: Even though Google was second in coming up with the voice assistance feature after Apple’s Siri, there are numerous applications in the PlayStore right now which provide similar functionalities. There might be some conflicting applications that have taken over the voice activation functionality of your phone.
  • USB Dongle issue (MI TV): We also came across a specific bug where Google Voice Search was not working in MI TVs because of a USB plugged into it. This is definitely a bug and you can follow the workaround listed below to fix it instantly.
  • Environment variables (Chrome): If you are trying to make use of the voice search functionality of Google in your browser, there are chances that the environmental variables of Google are corrupt in your computer. Refreshing them solves the issue.

Make sure that you have backed-up all your data and have access to your credentials as you will be asked to log in again.

Solution 1: Power cycling your Smartphone/Device

Before we start applying other technical fixes and workarounds, it is worth power cycling your smartphone/device completely. There are numerous instances where the smartphone gets into an error state or has corrupt temporary configurations that conflict with other applications or functionalities including Google search.

Here, we will power cycle your phone or any other device in which you are experiencing the error message. This will clear all the temporary configurations and reinitialize them.

For Smartphones

  1. Turn off your smartphone completely by pressing and holding the power buttons and selecting Power off.
  2. Now, wait for a couple of minutes before turning it back on.
  3. After the smartphone has turned on properly, try using Google Search and see if it works as expected.

For Plugged Devices

If you are experiencing the issue of Google not recognizing your voice or its voice search not working in any plugged device (including TVs, computers, etc.), follow the steps below.

  1. Turn off your device properly.
  2. Take out the power cable of the device from the power outlet. Now press and hold the power button for around 3-5 seconds.
  3. Now, wait for 2-3 minutes before plugging everything back in and turning on your device. Check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 2: Disabling Power Saving Mode

Almost every smartphone out there has a ‘power saving’ mode which enables users to minimize the use of resources and maximize the running time of the smartphones. In the power saving mode, all extra resources are shut down as well as the processes which are running in the background. This includes the Google Voice Search module which is running in the background silently. If the process itself gets shut down, how will it respond to your voice commands?

The method of disabling the power saving mode will be different from phone to phone. Here, we have included two methods; one where the global power saving mode is disabled and one where Google is checked to make sure it doesn’t have power optimization turned on.

  1. Slide down the top of your screen when on home page.
  2. Search for the Power Saving option (mostly represented with a battery icon).
  3. Make sure that it is disabled. If it isn’t, disable it and then try using the search functionality. Check if the issue is resolved.
    Making sure Power Saving is Disabled

Below is the method on how to disable the battery optimization feature for specific applications. We will be adding Google to the ‘whitelist’.

  1. Open Settings in your smartphone and navigate to Device maintenance (or some other option leading to battery options in your specific smartphone).
  2. Now click on Battery. Here, usually, there is a list of applications that you can limit to save power. Scroll down below until you locate Unmonitored apps.
    Unmonitored apps – Battery Settings
  3. Once inside unmonitored apps, click on the Add apps and now add Google’s application and save changes.
    Adding new Apps – Unmonitored Apps
  4. Now check if the voice functionality works as expected.

Solution 3: Checking Backend Server Status

Google has episodes of downtime where its services are not available to be used by the users. These episodes mainly occur either due to the maintenance of servers or due to the servers being upgraded with new features rolling out.

Checking Backend Server Status

It is possible that you are not able to use Google’s voice search because the backend servers are not available right now. You should check Twitter, Reddit, and Google Forums to get confirm whether the issue is on your end or at the backend. If you see similar reports by users, there is nothing you can do except wait the outrage out.

Solution 4: Checking your Internet Connection

The module of listening to ‘Okay Google’ might not require the internet but what comes after surely does. Google requires an active and open internet connection to process your search query and after obtaining results from the servers, display them on your screen (whether smartphone or computer).

If you are using public internet by organizations such as your Office, Hospitals, Coffee shops, etc. you should switch to your mobile data and then try accessing the Google search. Only when you are absolutely sure that the issue doesn’t preside due to the internet should you go forward with other solutions listed below.

Note: You can connect another device on the same network to troubleshoot the network and see if ‘Okay Google’ query workflow is completing properly.

Solution 5: Making sure the Correct Person is Operating

Google has a way of identifying and only responding to those whose voice it has saved in its database. For example, if I own a smartphone and I have trained my voice for it, it will only respond to my command.

If someone else tries to operate Google’s search mechanism, it will not respond simply because it doesn’t recognize the voice of its owner. If you want to add your voice to Google, you should ask the other person to unlock the device for you. From here you can navigate to Google’s settings and add the new person and also train Google to detect his voice. Once you are absolutely sure that the correct person is accessing the voice search, only them move on with the other solutions.

Solution 6: Updating Google’s Application

In numerous cases, Google acknowledged that there is a problem/bug with the voice search module and released an update to fix the issue. In addition to this, new features might also be introduced and rolled out through the update. Normally, applications in your smartphone are automatically updated over time but they don’t if they are not connected to Wi-Fi. If they are connected to your mobile internet instead, the smartphone will delay the updating process. Below is the method on how to manually update the Google application.

  1. Locate Play Store from the list of applications and launch it. Now slide the slider at the left side of the screen towards the right-hand side and click on My apps & games.
    My apps & games – PlayStore
  2. Now you can either search for Google’s application and update it specifically or update it by clicking Update all.
    Updating Google’s Application – PlayStore
  3. After the updating process is complete, restart your smartphone and try accessing the voice search again.

Solution 7: Choosing correct Language

Google has the option to make use of several different languages and accents on its voice search module. Normally, the default language is set to English (US) and Google should respond to ‘Okay Google’ by default. However, if you are trying to access the voice search through another language and the spoken language doesn’t match with the set language, the search will not work. In this solution, we will navigate to Google settings and make sure to change our language selection to the correct one.

  1. Open the Google application on your smartphone. Now click on More at the bottom-right side of the screen.
  2. Now click on Settings and then select Voice.
  3. Here, select Languages and deselect the wrong language (if any) and select the correct one. If you have more than two languages selected, you can press and hold a language to make it the primary one.
  4. Press Save to save changes. Now navigate to Google Assistant > Languages.
    Languages – Google Application
  5. Select the correct language from there as well. Now restart your phone and try accessing the voice search. See if the issue is resolved.
    Selecting correct language – Google Assistant

Solution 8: Re-training your Voice Model

Google usually creates a voice model whenever you enable the Google Assistant on any device. This voice model is trained to specifically recognize your voice and respond to your ‘Hey Google’ requests. However, there are several instances where Google needs to train again using your Voice model and it stops responding to your voice commands. Here, we can manually navigate to Google settings and then update the voice model manually. This usually takes a couple of seconds so nothing to worry about.

  1. Open the Google application on your smartphone. Now click on More at the bottom-right side of the screen.
  2. Now click on Settings and then select Google Assistant.
  3. Navigate to the tab of Assistant and scroll down to your Assistant devices. Here your device will be listed (for example, Phone). Click it.
    Selecting Assistant Device
  4. Make sure that Access with Voice Match is enabled. There will be an option of Voice model (retrain the Assistant to recognize your voice). Click it once.
    Retraining Voice Model – Google Assistant
  5. Now Google will ask you to say some specific words multiple times and it will analyze and save your voice notes what makes you unique.
  6. After retraining, restart your computer and then try accessing the voice search. Check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 9: Checking your Microphone

If your very microphone is not working, you will not be able to use the voice search mechanism on your device. Google’s application is constantly monitoring for words ‘Hey Google’ or ‘Ok Google’ through your microphone. If the microphone is broken or isn’t working as expected, it will not be able to listen for these words properly.

Checking Device Microphone

Here, you should open up a voice recording application (there is usually a default one in every smartphone) and try to record inside. If you can hear your recording back, it means that the microphone is working as expected. If you hear a distorted sound or don’t hear your sound at all, it means that your microphone needs a checkup.

Note: We came across several cases where there was dust and residue in front of microphones. Make sure that you clean those as well.

Solution 10: Disabling Bixby (Samsung S8 onwards) or similar apps

Bixby is a personal assistant provided in newer versions of Samsung smartphones. It has almost the same functionality as Google Assistant but it is said to have better hardware-software integration in Samsung smartphones. According to some feedback from users, we came to know that Bixby conflicted with Google’s voice search. This is probably due to the fact that both modules make use of the voice component. Therefore, it is strongly suggested that you disable Bixby and check if it fixes the issue.

Disabling Bixby

If you have some other smartphone than Samsung and are using similar software, it is recommended that you disable that as well. You can easily navigate to the application list in your smartphone (Settings > Apps) and then check if there are any conflicting applications.

Solution 11: Resetting Google’s Application Data

If all the above methods don’t work and you are still unable to use the voice search module on your computer, you can try resetting Google’s application data on your smartphone. Every major application in Android (including Google) is preinstalled inside the operating system. Then, as the updates roll out, they are installed accordingly. If the application is in an error state, uninstalling the updates might fix the issue. Below is the method on how to do that:

  1. Open your Settings and navigate to Applications.
  2. Here all the applications will be listed. Search through them until you find the entry of Google.
  3. Now, click on the three dots present at the top-right side of the screen and select Uninstall updates.
    Uninstall Updates – Google application
  4. Proceed with the action if you are asked to confirm again. After the process is complete, restart your smartphone and try using the Voice Search. Check if the issue is resolved.

Note: After you uninstall the updates, disable and then enable the application. After you enable and restart your phone, some updates will be installed. Be patient and let them finish before continuing.

Solution 12: Revoking Microphone Permissions

Google usually has all the permissions on your smartphone because you either gave them when you first used the application or they were enabled by default. We came across several cases where the permissions of Google were conflicting with each other. In order to make the voice search work, the permission of the Microphone is needed on top of all basic permissions (such as the Internet, etc.). Normally, you grant this permission manually when you use the voice search feature for the first time but if it is in a conflict, we can try reinitializing the permission and see if this works.

  1. Open your Settings and navigate to Applications.
  2. Here all the applications will be listed. Search through them until you find the entry of Google.
  3. Inside the entry of Google, search for Permissions. Inside, you will see almost all the permissions granted. Revoke (Uncheck) the permission for Microphone.
    Revoking Microphone Permissions
  4. Now you can navigate to your Google Assistant settings and try to enable the voice search. The application will ask for permission to be granted automatically. If this doesn’t occur, you can manually give permission again and check if this solves the problem.

Solution 13: Removing USB from MI TV

If you are unable to use Google Voice Search using MI TV, we came across an interesting finding that as long as there is a USB dongle attached to the MI TV, there will be an issue with the voice module. This was tried and tested by various different users who confirmed that this was indeed a bug. Below is the method on how to fix the issue:

  1. Unpair the MI remote from your settings and pair it again afterward.
  2. Now, remove any USB dongle which is attached to the TV (for example, a Bluetooth mouse/keyboard).
  3. Restart your TV and after making sure it is connected to the internet, try accessing the voice search and see if it works.

Note: If this method doesn’t work, you can try factory resetting the TV.

In addition to the above methods, you can also try the following:

  • Factory resetting your phone if all the methods fail.
  • Switching your Internet connection when trying voice search.
  • Getting your microphone component checked.
  • Using a hands-free and using its mic to diagnose the problem.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.