Streaming videos, photos, and music to your TV couldn’t be easier with Google Chromecast. Available in two varieties — the standard Chromecast ($29.99 MSRP) and the Chromecast Ultra ($69 MSRP) — this small streaming device uses Wi-Fi to broadcast apps, streaming services, and more to the big screen. The regular Chromecast can only stream in high definition (HD), while the Ultra is 4K-capable. You can even buy TVs with Chromecast built-in.
When you buy a Chromecast device, you’ll notice one big thing missing: a remote. So how do you control Chromecast without one? Well, it’s simple. You can use a mobile device as a remote or configure your normal TV remote to work with Chromecast. Here’s how to use both kinds of remote along with some handy tips and tricks. (Head here for a full Chromecast review.)
Using your mobile device with Chromecast
Although most people use a smartphone to control Chromecast, it’s possible to use any Android or iOS device that can download the Google Home app. Once the app’s installed, you can link it to an existing Google account or create a new one. Then you’ll be prompted to connect to your Chromecast device. Got everything set up? Use the Google Home app to stream photos, videos, and songs, control the playback and volume of your Chromecast stream, and link various music and streaming services. You can also use phones or tablets to add new users to your Chromecast device.
Using your TV remote with Chromecast
If you don’t always have your phone at hand, consider using your TV remote to control Chromecast instead. The setup process is slightly more complicated. To allow your remote to send signals to your Chromecast device, you have to enable HDMI-CEC on your TV. Most modern TVs support this feature, but manufacturers tend to refer to it by different names. For example, Samsung calls it Anynet+ and LG calls it Simplink. Google your TV model to find out the right name, and enable HDMI-CEC in your TV settings to pause, play, and stop streams with your TV remote. Other controls like volume and fast-forward only work via smart devices for now.
Turn on your TV with your phone
Another nifty aspect of HDMI-CEC is that your phone can use it to turn on your TV automatically. Ensure HDMI-CEC is enabled and plug your Chromecast in with the AC adapter, rather than a USB port. Then cast a song, photo, or video on your phone by tapping the Cast icon that appears. If your TV’s off, it’ll turn on and switch to the correct HDMI input to display your Chromecast stream.
Enable Guest Mode
If you have guests around but don’t want to give them your Wi-Fi password, Chromecast has a simple solution. Guest Mode allows anyone within a certain radius of the device to cast content from their phone. The Cast icon should automatically show up on other people’s phones, thanks to a special Wi-Fi and Bluetooth beacon that Chromecast emits. Just make sure they’re using a Chromecast-enabled app.
Tap Cast and select Nearby Device. Your Chromecast should automatically transfer a four-digit PIN to the new device to allow it to begin casting. If it doesn’t, your friend can manually enter the PIN. Enable Guest Mode and find your PIN in the Google Home app settings.
Try silent streaming
Sometimes, you don’t want to wake up the entire household with your streaming. For late-night watching, grab a pair of headphones and download the LocalCast Android or iOS app. It reroutes the audio to your phone, so you can watch videos on your TV without disturbing a soul.
A smart way to game
Whether you’re playing with the entire family or want to see your game on the big screen, you can, with a mobile remote. Cast your game to your TV and use a phone or tablet as the controller. When it’s the next person’s turn, all you have to do is pass the device on and play.
Mirror your screen
Although plenty of Chromecast-enabled apps exist to make casting easier, there may come a time where you’ll want to mirror the exact display of your phone screen. For example, you may want to transport a video call to the big screen for everyone to see or play a game that doesn’t work with Chromecast in the usual way. Most Android devices running Android 5.0 or later support this feature. Just tap Cast Screen in the Google Home app. Unfortunately, iOS users can’t mirror their screens. Oh, and Google recommends turning off Power Saving Mode on your Android device for the best quality and performance.
The final cut
As you’ve probably realized, turning your phone or tablet into a remote is the way to make the most of your Chromecast device. Most Chromecast remote features are designed for the mobile version. Your TV remote, on the other hand, is pretty limited in what it can do. But it’s still worthwhile linking your TV remote to Chromecast for a speedy way to play and pause content.
And if you’re wishing Chromecast came with its own remote, those wishes may come true. There are rumors that Google will soon be releasing a Chromecast and remote combo. It’s even expected to be able to control your TV and come with a built-in microphone for Google Assistant voice control. Only time will tell if that design becomes a reality.