Google’s Chromecast is one of the most affordable ways to stream content to TVs. But when most people think of Chromecast, they think of streaming from their phones to the big screen. It’s easy to forget that you can also stream the likes of Netflix, Spotify, and even presentations straight from your computer to your TV.
To do that, you’ll need a Chromecast extension called Google Cast. Luckily, it’s integrated into Chrome. If you’re wondering how to use Google Cast to showcase individual browser tabs and files or your entire computer screen, read on for plenty of tips and tricks. And head here for our complete Chromecast review.
How to connect your Chromecast device to your Chrome browser
Setting up your Chromecast device couldn’t be easier. Plug it into your TV’s HDMI port and plug the USB wire into the appropriate port or power outlet. (If you have a TV with Chromecast built-in, that part’s already done for you.) Ensure you’re using the latest version of the Chrome browser on your computer and that your Chromecast device and computer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. You don’t have to download the Google Chromecast extension. Just click the Chrome menu button (the three vertical dots at the top right of your browser, hit Cast, and choose Chromecast as your preferred casting device.
How to cast tabs, videos, and more
Via Google Cast, you can stream files like music and videos, an individual browser tab, or your entire desktop. Whenever you want to cast, just click the Chrome menu button once again. Select Cast, then Sources. From there, you can choose to cast a tab, a file, or your desktop. If you want the Cast button to automatically appear in the Chrome toolbar, simply right-click on the Cast icon when casting. Then select Always Show Icon. Done with streaming? Just click Stop.
There are a few things to note when casting. If you’re casting a tab, you’ll need to keep the browser open the entire time. But if you’re casting from a streaming service like Netflix, you can close the tab without cutting off the stream. To cast videos, you’ll need a strong Wi-Fi connection. The sound from your video will play on your TV for a more cinematic experience, and you’ll still be able to play other sounds on your computer. (Note that although most web content is available to cast, some sites aren’t supported. These tend to be sites that use plug-ins like Quicktime, Silverlight, and VLC. Videos may cast with some of these plug-ins, but there may be a lack of sound.)
How to cast slideshows to your TV
This is particularly useful for work. If you have a presentation that needs a bigger audience, use Google Slides to stream the slideshow to your TV screen. It’s super simple. Just click Present in the top right corner of your presentation. A drop-down menu will appear — click Chromecast to begin casting.
How to cast local files to your TV
You probably have a bunch of photos, videos, and tunes stored on your computer. These are known as local files. There are two ways to cast these kinds of files from your Chrome browser to your TV. Number one is to open your browser and press CTRL+0 on a PC or Command+0 on a Mac. You’ll be able to select certain files located in your computer’s hard drive or an external hard drive. But some file formats aren’t compatible with this method.
To solve that particular problem, you’ll need Plex. Plex is an app that stores and organizes all of your personal content in one easy-to-access place. Use it to cast family photo albums, home videos, and downloaded music to a TV. Open the Plex web app and click the Plex Players button at the top right. Then select Cast followed by your Chromecast device.
When casting, videos and other media will play on your TV instead of on your computer. If you want to continue using Plex but don’t want to lose the content from your TV screen, switch to the app’s mini player. You’ll find that by clicking the down arrow on the top left.
How to use your computer while casting full-screen
Sometimes, you may need to use your computer while you’re casting full-screen content to your TV. If that’s the case, you’ll be pleased to hear there’s a workaround. All you have to do is press Alt+Tab on a PC or Command+Tab on a Mac to switch to another tab or application. The content you’re casting will still show up full-screen on your TV, but you’ll be able to browse the web, read documents, and more.
How to quickly control YouTube while casting
If YouTube is your favorite way to stream videos and you own a Windows computer, you’re in luck. Thanks to the existence of several shortcuts, you don’t have to use your mouse to play, pause, or fast forward videos when casting. Hit the space bar to play or pause your chosen video, and the left or right arrow to rewind or fast forward. The up and down arrows can be used to increase and decrease the volume, and you can restart the video by pressing 0. There’s one more handy trick: if you know where you want to skip to, press a number between one and nine to fast-forward in 10% increments. For example, pressing six will skip 60% of the video.
The final cut
Once you’ve optimized your Chrome browser, using Google Cast to stream content from your computer couldn’t be simpler. With so many casting options, you’ll never be stuck when it comes to watching videos, listening to music, or broadcasting your entire desktop on the big screen.