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How to Get Google Assistant on Your PC

Screenshot: David Murphy

One day, every digital assistant will be at our fingertips no matter what platform we prefer—so yelling at Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, or whoever else comes along will be as easy as clicking an icon and fumbling through verbal commands. Until then, however, there’s clever workarounds to get things like Google Assistant on our Windows or Mac desktops.

If you want to try out this sorcery, know that the implementation—courtesy of the “Google Assistant Unofficial Desktop Client”—isn’t perfect. You won’t be able to access Google Routines from your desktop, nor your favorite streaming services. It’s unclear whether that’s simply because this utility is so new or whether it’s a technological challenge that’s difficult to overcome. Stay tuned on that front.

Also, you’ll have to go through the semi-laborious process of setting up the Google Assistant API in Google Cloud. There’s a great guide for this that walks you through the entire process, so you’ll have a helping hand the entire way. Still, this isn’t a simple “install an app and poof!” kind of a solution. You’ll have to work for it a little to get Google Assistant on your desktop.

When I checked this out, installing the app portion was a piece of cake. And as you go through the prompts once you launch the unofficial Assistant, you’ll get this can’t-miss message:

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From there, I launched the setup guide and started chugging my way through the API process. The instructions are so well written that it took me less than ten minutes to get the app up and running with the Google Assistant API—eight, specifically, if you were curious. Soon after, I had an (almost completely) working version of Google Assistant on my desktop, launchable by tapping the Windows Key + Shift + A hotkey, by default.

Fun as this is in its basic form, I recommend tweaking a few options in the unofficial desktop client’s main Settings window before you’ll be good to go. Specifically:

  • Enable microphone on application startup: If you have a mic or webcam attached to your system, then this ensures that the Google Assistant is listening to the moment you launch the app.
  • Window Float Behavior: Select “Close on Blur,” and your little Assistant screen will go away the moment you click out of it. It’s a little more convenient than having to click “X” each time.
  • Theme: Select “Use System Preferences” so the Assistant window matches your PC’s theme, whether you’re running light, dark, or switching between the two a lot.

Unfortunately, you can’t change the default hotkey just yet, in case Windows Key + Shift + A feels cumbersome. You could always use another app to remap that to something else, like a button on your gaming mouse or something else on your keyboard entirely; but it’s fine once you get used to it, and a small price to pay for a virtual assistant on your desktop.

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