How to Set Up Chromecast

So someone advised you to go and buy Google’s Chromecast?  Perhaps they said how useful the little device is, reeled off all the clever things you can do with one.  You’ve gone out and spent the princely sum of £30 ($35) on the little thing.  And here you are, having unboxed the small ‘hockey puck’ of a gadget, wondering where to start.

Well you’ve come to the right place.  We’re going to take it step by step from the beginning and, hopefully, get you up and running with the minimum of fuss.  Then we’re going to look at a few of those useful things you can actually use it for.

How do I connect it?

The first, and very easily done, part is how to connect it to your TV.  You will notice that the circular disc has a flexible cable dangling off it with a male HDMI connector on the end.  Obviously you plug this into a spare HDMI socket on your television.

You also need to connect the supplied USB cable to power the Chromecast.  The small (Micro USB) end plugs into the Chromecast itself.  For optimal performance, Google recommends you connect the larger (Type A USB) end into the supplied power adapter (some users prefer to plug the usb connector into their TV instead to provide a neater solution, but you should check with your TV manufacturer’s customer service as to whether it is safe to do so).

Okay, now we’ve got our shiny new Chromecast physically connected to the television, go ahead and turn both the TV and Chromecast on.  Check which HDMI port number you’ve plugged it into and, if the TV doesn’t detect it automatically, change the channel to suit.

Note. If you connect your Chromecast to “HDMI 1” this will allow you to turn your TV and and off (so long as it’s supported) using Google Assistant or your Google Home device.

A setup screen will appear on your TV, like the one below.

As instructed, grab your phone and install the “Google Home” app (from Google’s Play Store on Android, or the App Store on iPhone).  Make sure your mobile is connected to the same Wi-Fi network on which you’re going to use your Chromecast.

Open the “Google Home” app that you just installed on your mobile and tap the “+ Add” button.  Now tap “Set up device” and select “Set up new devices in your home”.  Google requires “Location access” in order to locate your Chromecast.  Allow this to proceed.  Once it has found your device, tap “Next”.

You should get a “Chromecast found” message (as above) on your mobile phone, and it will ask you if your would like to set it up (there will be a small number following the word “Chromecast” that appears on both your mobile and TV, check they are the same before continuing).  Next tap “Yes”.  The app should connect to your Chromecast.  A large code appears on both your mobile and TV.  Again check they match and tap “Yes”.

Next will be an option to “Help improve Chromecast”.  This is entirely up to you, but personally I think big tech companies collect enough of our data already so let’s not encourage it and tap “No Thanks”.  When it asks “Where is this device?”, choose the room where you’re putting your Chromecast and tap “Next”.

Next up you will see the “Connect to Wi-Fi” screen.  Make sure the name of your Wi-Fi is selected and tap “Next”.  The app will attempt to connect your Chromecast to your Wi-Fi.  Once connected, Chromecast will need to update.  The progress will be shown on your TV screen.

While it’s updating, the app will ask to link your Google account to your Chromecast.  To get the best experience out of your Chromecast it’s advisable to do this so tap “Next” (if you don’t have a Google account – I believe there are still a few people left who haven’t – you can easily set one up by going to https://accounts.google.com and selecting the “Create account” option at the bottom).

It’s time to add some services.

On your mobile phone select the video services (see above) you would like to use on your Chromecast and tap “Next”.  All being well, the app will show you that you’ve set up your Chromecast and linked it to your wireless network. Tap “continue”.

Once the updates have finished, the TV should display the “All set!” message, as in the picture below.

Back on your phone, tap “Continue”.  You can select to either watch or skip the tutorial (it’s probably a good idea to watch it).  And that’s it. The app, TV and Chromecast are all set up.  From here the app will take you to the browse screen where you can select any of the content you would like to watch.

Okay, that’s the basics covered, but how do we REALLY use this thing?

YouTube is a great place to start.  You’ve probably already got the app installed on your mobile, so open it now.  Next, select the “Cast” icon (as is the image below).

Choose the Chromecast device you want to connect to (there should only be one).  Then select a video you would like to watch on the big screen.  A pop up will appear where you can tap “Play” (as below).

The video will start playing on your TV.  Note. It can take a second before it starts (this is known as “buffering” – you’ve probably experienced it with your internet connection at some point, especially if you have a slow one.  With Chromecast, it’s just a small delay while the video loads up onto your TV across your wireless network and should be fine once playback begins).

If you’re already “casting” (the term used for sending a video from your mobile to watch through the Chromecast) a YouTube video, you can choose another.  Be sure to select the “Add to queue” option this time to have it play after the video you are watching has finished.  If you want to stop casting, select the “Cast” icon again and tap “Stop Casting”.  Easy, isn’t it.  Now go and enjoy YouTube on the big screen!

What other apps work with Chromecast?

Quite a few actually (in fact, hundreds of them).  Here’s a small selection:
(Remember, the choice of available apps/content will vary from country to country)

Hulu
Netflix
Playstation Vue
Crackle
Disney Life
BBC iPlayer
ITV Hub
All 4
My5
Google Photos
Google Play Movies

HBO Now and HBO Go
Facebook
Spotify
Plex
TED
Eurosport Player
Twitch
ESPN
NBA1
UFC.TV
WWE

Helpful hint: It’s a good idea to put all your Chromecast apps into a single folder on your mobile so they’re easy to find when your watching TV.

Do I have to use my mobile to “cast” a video, can’t I just do it on the TV?

Unfortunately the way Chromecast works relies on the app. You need a device with Google’s Home app installed (the exception is to use Google’s Home Assistant – more on this later) to select the video you want to watch and cast it to your TV. Note. It doesn’t have to be your mobile, you could install the Google Home app on a tablet instead (or as well).

What’s with the photos its showing when I turn it on?

When Chromecast first starts (or goes into standby mode) it automatically shows photos on its homescreen (as well as the current time). By default these pictures come from Google’s own servers. If you would like, you can personalize this. To do so, open the Google Home app on your mobile. Scroll down and select the room of your Chromecast. Next tap “Personalize Ambient”. Here you can pick from a few different options, including displaying your Google Photos (if you use this service). Facebook and Flickr images are also supposed under “Experimental”. Select whichever service you would like to use.

How does Chromecast interact with Google Assistant?

Very well, actually.  Because we linked our Google account to our Chromecast earlier, if you have a Google Assistant you will now be able to tell what you’d like to watch on TV, all without ever needing to touch your mobile phone or tablet.  You can even tell it to turn the TV on and off!

Basically you have to issue a command in the following format:
Hey Google, play Series Name from Service Name on Chromecast Name.

So if we substitute the words in italics for a real world example, you might say,
Hey Google, play The Crown from Netflix on Lounge TV”.

IMPORTANT. If your TV supports being turned on and off by Chromecast, make sure that “HDMI-CEC” (CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control) is turned ON in the television’s settings or this function will not work.

And there you have it.  Your first venture into the world of casting.  Hopefully there’s enough there to get you going.  Happy casting!

Common questions people often ask about Chromecast

What’s the difference between Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra, other than one is a lot more expensive than the other?

* The standard Chromecast supports Full HD (1080P)
* The Chromecast Ultra supports 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range)

To put it simply, unless you’ve got a 4K TV, just buy the Chromecast, NOT the Ultra.  If you have a 4K TV, I’d still question if the Chromecast Ultra is worth the extra – personally I’d sooner buy two standard Chromecasts (for about the same cost).

Can I use my Chromecast to watch videos that are on my desktop computer on the TV?

You sure can (the process is the same for a laptop, too).
Note. Chromecast works with Windows, Mac, Chrome OS (that’s your Chromebooks) and Linux.
Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to install the excellent (and free) VLC Media Player.  You can download it here:

https://www.videolan.org/

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the software, open a video in it that you’d like to watch on the big screen and click “Playback” on the top menu bar.  From the drop down menu select “Renderer” and you should see your Chromecast listed.  Simply click on it to start it playing on your TV.

You can also cast from Google’s Chrome web browser to your TV.  To do so, open the browser, click the vertical three dots at the top right of the screen to reveal the menu and select the “Cast” option, as show below.

A pop up will appear showing your Chromecast.  Click on this to send whatever is showing in your web browser to the TV.

Is there a monthly fee for using Chromecast?

No, not for Chromecast itself, but some of the supported services (such as Netflix, for example, do require a subscription).

Can you set up Chromecast without Wi-Fi?

No, Chromecast works through your wireless network.

Do I need a Chromecast for each TV?

If you intend to cast media to a particular television then, yes, you will need to connect a Chromecast to it.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy another.  There is nothing to stop you moving your Chromecast device from one TV to another (its not exactly heavy to haul around).  You won’t need to set it up again and you can always move it back to the original TV when you’re done.

Can you cast to two TVs at once?

Yes, this can be done (you would obviously need two Chromecasts – one for each TV), but instructions on how to do this are beyond the scope of this article.

Can I use Chromecast on a non-smart TV?

You certainly can.  So long as the TV has a HDMI socket you’re good to go.

What devices does Chromecast work with?

Chromecast plugs into a TV (or any other display with a HDMI socket) and works with mobile phones and tablets, either Android or iPhone/iPad.

Do you need internet for Chromecast?

In order to obtain its full functonality, yes.

What’s Chromecast Audio?

While not dissimilar in appearance, this is a completely different product and should not be confused with Chromecast.  As the name suggests, it is designed to work with audio, NOT video.

Extra help

If you run into any problems, check out Google’s Chromecast support page below.

https://www.support.google.com/chromecast

If a single Chromecast proves to not be enough for your entertainment requirements – say you’ve got one in the lounge and at a later date you’d like another in the kitchen – you can go grab another from the following link.

https://store.google.com/product/chromecast