How to Chromecast – The Simple Guide

Sharing content on your laptop or phone with friends or family has always had the issues of too many heads crowding a small space, or washed out images because small screen devices have a tiny sweet spot for optimal image viewing; and all with tinny sound to boot. The problem is even worse when trying to do that with your smart phone or tablet’s tiny screen. If you find yourself wishing there was a way to view your mobile device’s small screen on something much larger, without cables or bumping heads, then you should check out the Google Chromecast device.

Using Chromecast is incredibly simple as all you will need is the actual Chromecast device (available from most electronics stores), a free HDMI socket on your TV, and the latest version of Chrome on your computer, Android phone, or iOS device.

The actual Chromecast hardware is a small dongle, not much bigger than your thumb, which slots into any free HDMI port on your TV. You will also need to power the dongle with a USB cable. Most modern TVs have USB ports suited to the task but if yours doesn’t you can also use a USB style charger (the same as the one you use to charge your phone) to power it up. Turn the TV on and select the relevant input source channel to get to the Chrome screen. You will most likely see an update screen as Chromecast updates itself to the latest version.

If you are casting from your laptop (or even a desktop computer) you now only need to install the Chromecast extension from the Chrome Web Store. Once that is installed you will have a new icon in the top right of the browser window which is displayed as a rectangle with a small Wi-Fi icon in the bottom left corner.

Just about everything you can display in the browser window can now be cast to the big screen. This means your online photos, videos, and YouTube are all viewable on the TV to share with friends, or just enjoy by yourself but with a big picture and thumping sound. Many of the bigger movies and TV streaming services such as Netflix are now optimized to work well with Chromecast. Go to their websites as per usual, click the Chromecast icon, choose your device, and start watching all of that great content on the big screen while using your phone or tablet as a remote of sorts.

On the Android and iOS side of things it’s also just as easy. For Android users with Android KitKat and beyond Chromecast is baked right into the operating system. For users with systems a little older or who have an Apple device, they will have to download the Chromecast app from the relevant store. Once installed and setup all compatible media will display the Chromecast icon when the Chromecast is powered up. Simply tap on the icon and choose the Chromecast device you want to stream to from the pop up list.

chromecast

In many cases the Chrome device even hands over functionality to your TV’s remote, albeit in a limited format, so you can easily pause, fast, forward, and rewind without fumbling with your phone, or PC’s keyboard and mouse. However, this feature is a little hit and miss as it depends on your particular brand and model of TV.

While not in the same league as the latest Apple TV or Roku box the Chromecast definitely gives a lot of bang for your buck. It’s small, around ten times cheaper than most other options, can easily be carted around to hotels and the like, and it’s capabilities are growing all the time. Plus, it’s a breeze to setup and works with a whole range of devices from phones, to tablets, and PC’s; definitely a nifty device to add to your electronic entertainment arsenal.

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