(Pocket-lint) – You’re probably reading this because you own a Chromecast but don’t know what to do with it beyond casting YouTube or Netflix videos from your device to a TV. Well, Pocket-lint is here to help.
You can use Chromecast to magically turn on your TV, stream locally stored video to your TV, mirror websites, and more. If you’d like to learn more about these features, we’ve detailed several tips that will immediately enhance your Chromecast streaming experience.
Of course, the latest Chromecast offers the full Google TV experience, along with a remote, meaning easy access to all your favourite shows – but it will do a lot more than that.
Turn on your TV and Chromecast without a remote
You can simultaneously turn on your TV and Chromecast and even change to the correct HDMI input without ever touching your TV remote. This is possible because Chromecast supports a common technology called HDMI-CEC. Although most HDTVs offer HDMI-CEC, you might have to enable the feature under TV settings.
Once CEC is enabled on your TV, you will be able to cast anything from your computer and mobile device. Your TV will automatically turn on, then switch to the correct HDMI input for Chromecast, and begin streaming your content.
Stream local video using a keyboard shortcut
You could use apps like RealCloud Player, Plex, Beamer, or Videostream to cast video saved on your computer to your TV. You can use a keyboard shortcut, too. First, download the latest version of the Chrome browser. Then, open the browser and simply press Control+O (Chromebook and Windows) or Command+O (Mac).
Use the pop-up to select your video. Keep in mind you can select files from your local drive, connected external drive, and even network locations. After picking your file, it should load in your browser. You’ll want to go to the Cast icon in the browser bar and select your Chromecast to instantly begin streaming.
Stream local video stored on Android devices
We’ve already discussed how you can stream local video stored on your computer, but this tip is slightly different: you can send photos, music, and videos stored on your mobile device to your TV. Casting is supported from many Android apps, including Google Photos, which will let you send photos and video direct to your Chromecast.
You can also mirror your Android phone or tablet to the TV, meaning you can stream whatever is on your mobile screen to the big screen, such as apps, or just to do a demo. On many Android devices the option to cast will be in the Quick Settings pane at the top of the screen, just swipe down, tap the cast icon and away you go.
Mirror your entire screen or tab
This one should be well-known among Chromecast users, but it is still worth mentioning to all the newbies reading: you can beam whatever you’re looking at in the Chrome browser to your TV. You must first download the latest version of the Chrome browser and then click on the drop down menu in the top right with the three vertical dots before selecting Cast from the list of options.
A small menu will appear, with a Sources box in the bottom left-hand corner. Click on the arrow to reveal options for casting your browser tab, your entire screen, or choose a file from your computer. The tab option will obviously only mirror what’s visible in your browser tab, while the entire screen option will mirror your entire computer screen. Once you’ve made your choice, click on your Chromecast device name to start mirroring.
This is a really handy feature for presentations.
Cast full-screen content in the background
It is fun to cast from your computer. But you must keep video and different things in full screen mode within the Chrome browser at all times in order for it to display in full screen on your TV. That’s not so fun, because it makes playing with your computer while watching TV impossible.
Luckily, there is a workaround. When casting from your Chrome browser, press Alt+Tab to switch tasks. This will still stream your content in full screen… but in the background, enabling you to use your computer freely.
Add emoji or symbols to your Chromecast name
This is a silly one that doesn’t enhance your streaming experience, but it does make you feel cooler. You can use emoji and character symbols to change your Chromecast name into something more imaginative. Just open the Google Home app and scroll down to your Chromecast device.
Tap on the settings cog in the top right corner, then select Name. Tap on the name box and you’ll be able to enter the new name. Type what you want, and when done, tap “OK”.
You can add emoji by simply copying and pasting them into the device name field.
Cast Facebook Live broadcasts
Facebook Live offers support for Google’s Cast tech. That means you can send a Facebook Live broadcast to a TV. Just make sure your mobile device and the TV with Chromecast are on the same Wi-Fi network.
Then, simply open a Facebook Live broadcast and hit the Cast icon that appears on the screen. It’s like casting any other content from your phone, such as a YouTube video, only it’s a Facebook live stream.
Link your Chromecast to Nest speakers
With a little know-how you can turn your Google Home or Nest speakers into a voice activated controller.
Google’s voice-activated speakers will recognise when you ask them to play Netflix or Disney+ shows and with the proper setup, you can control your TV with your voice. You’ll be able to ask its assistant to skip episodes, pause and resume playback, switch on captions, and even rewind what you’re watching.
To get started, you’ll need one of the Nest devices and the latest version of the Google Home app. You’ll also need a Chromecast device plugged into your TV. You’ll then need a Netflix/Disney account to link to your Google Home. In the Home app, go to the “+” icon in the top left corner > Videos. From there, link your Netflix/Disney account to your Google account.
Keep in mind you can also do all this with YouTube videos. All you have to do is sign into your YouTube account through the Google Home app. Once you’re all set, you can start controlling Netflix or YouTube using your Google Home. You can say things like “OK Google, play House of Cards from Netflix on my TV” or “OK Google, pause Stranger Things on my TV” or “Play John Oliver videos from YouTube on my TV”.
Get an Ethernet adapter
Chromecast requires a strong Wi-Fi connection. Google has an Ethernet adapter for Chromecast Ultra or Chromecast with Google TV which might be worth considering if you have a weak Wi-Fi signal. The adapter looks like the Chromecast power cord, but the plug end has a small Ethernet port to connect an Ethernet cable. You can find it on the Google Store.
Just make sure that the Ethernet cable is connected to your modem as well, and then plug the USB end of the adapter into the Chromecast, and attach the Chromecast to the HDMI port on your TV.
Switch up those Chromecast photos
You can use your own photos – or you can choose from Google’s selection images – to switch up your Chromecast background. In the Google Home app, select the Chromecast you want to customise, and tap the settings menu in the top right corner. From there, select Ambient Mode.
Enable guest mode
You can let guests use Chromecast without giving them access to your Wi-Fi. Just turn your Chromecast to Guest Mode in the device settings, and anyone with the Cast-enabled app can cast once the option shows up on their device (if they’re within 25 feet of the Chromecast).
Factory reset Chromecast
You may never need to use this tip, but it’s handy to know nonetheless: in case your Chromecast develops an issue where it doesn’t work or function properly, you can revert the device to factory settings.
Just access the Settings menu in the Chromecast app on your PC, Mac, or mobile device, and then open the drop down menu on the top right and select Factory Reset. Simple. You can also restore the factory settings by holding down the Chromecast’s button for 25 seconds.
Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Chris Hall. Originally published on .