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TV & streaming

Google Chromecast: Set up, how to cast and hidden tricks

Most of the televisions on the market today are smart TVs with built-in apps for streaming and entertainment. But what do you do if you don’t have a smart TV and want to watch your favorite series on Netflix? That is where Google’s Chromecast comes in.

Chromecast, now in its third generation, plugs into your television through the HDMI port. Pair it with your mobile device, and you will have streaming apps at your fingertips. Tap or click here to check out streaming services offering free trials.

There is one big difference between Google’s Chromecast and smart TVs. While smart TVs have streaming apps built into their operating software, Chromecast mirrors your mobile device’s content to your television. Keep reading to find out how to set it up and a few more handy tips.

How to set it up your Chromecast

Whether you have the standard Chromecast or the new Chromecast with Google TV, the setup process is all the same.

  • After unboxing the Chromecast, plug it into an available HDMI port on your television. If it comes with a power cable, plug that in too.
  • Ensure that you have a phone or tablet ready, have a Google account and access to a Wi-Fi network.
  • On your television, cycle to the correct HDMI channel.
  • Make a note of the Chromecast device number. You will need that later.
  • If you haven’t already, download the Google Home app to your phone or tablet.
  • Open the Google Home app and sign in to your account. You might need to set up a Home if you haven’t already.
  • Turn on Bluetooth on your device.
  • The app will start looking for devices and should recognize the Chromecast.
  • Once detected, follow the on-screen prompts and look for the Chromecast device number from earlier.
  • Connect the Chromecast and your mobile device to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • If set up correctly, you should see a background image, the time and your device’s name on the screen.

Casting video or music from your device

As everything is set up and ready to go, you are probably itching to start viewing your favorite content. You can cast video content from Chromecast-enabled apps to your TV through your Android or iOS device.

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How to cast content:

  • Connect the Chromecast and your mobile device to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Open the desired Chromecast-enabled app.
  • To view content, tap on the Cast button and select Chromecast.
  • When connected to the Chromecast, the Cast button will turn blue.
  • Note: the Cast button on supported apps isn’t in the same location on all.

To cast from apps like Netflix, Hulu or Spotify, open each app individually when you want to view the content. For a comprehensive list of all supported apps, look at Google’s informational website.

How to cast from a computer

While casting from a mobile device will give you the best viewing experience, you can also cast from your computer. There are a few things to keep in mind. Most importantly, it will only work with Google’s Chrome web browser.

You can mirror a browser tab, cast video or media from your computer, or cast your computer screen to your TV.

  • Connect the Chromecast and your computer to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • On your computer, open the Chrome web browser.
  • At the top right, click More and then click on Cast.
  • When your Chromecast is connected, the content you chose should replace what is on the TV screen.
  • To stop casting, click Cast to the right of the address bar, and click Stop Casting.
  • To cast browser content from YouTube, Netflix or Spotify, look for the Cast button and click on it.
  • You can also cast downloaded video and music files by clicking More at the top right of Chrome.
  • Click Cast, select Sources > Cast file.
  • Select the file that you want to view and choose your Chromecast device.

Customize Chromecast’s ambient mode

When Chromecast isn’t being used to view content, you can choose what is displayed on the screen. Ambient Mode is a screensaver of sorts, and you have the selection of art, your own photos or some experimental Google content to display.

  • Open the Google Home app
  • Tap on your Chromecast device
  • In the top right-hand corner, tap Settings
  • Tap Ambient Mode after scrolling down a bit

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Through the Google Photos app, you can select or remove which albums will be used for background images. You can also choose only to show selected albums, recent highlights or specify individual photos.

The art gallery option will display a revolving selection of art pieces from modern or classical artists.

Enable Guest Mode

By nature of the device, you need to have a Google account and the Google Home app to cast to your TV. But that doesn’t mean that visiting friends and family can’t control what is being viewed. For this, Chromecast has a Guest Mode, which allows anyone to cast content.

To turn on Guest Mode:

  • Open the Google Home app
  • Tap Settings
  • Scroll down to Device settings and tap Guest Mode
  • Turn on Guest Mode by moving the slider

For visitors using Guest Mode:

  • Open any Chromecast-enable app
  • Tap the Cast button
  • Select Nearby Devices and follow the on-screen prompts
  • If required, enter the 4-digit PIN displayed on the screen

Chromecast versus Chromecast with Google TV

For most households, the classic Chromecast is perfect for streaming content. Need something with a bit more power and functionality? The newly launched Chromecast with Google TV should be your go-to device.

There are differences between the devices. Apart from the design aspect, Chromecast with Google TV is available in three colors and the classic model is available in two.

Chromecast with Google TV also comes with its own voice remote with Google Assistant that you can use to control smart home devices.

With Chromecast with Google TV, you can browse all of your content in one place, on the TV. Search without jumping between apps. And it comes with personalized recommendations.

Chromecast with Google TV also supports a resolution up to 4K, while the classic is limited to 1080p. Naturally, the latest device is a bit more expensive than the classic, retailing for $49.99 compared to $29.99.

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