The fact that you can easily stream video streams to your television with a Chromecast is well known in the meantime. But you can do a lot more with this versatile device. How about playing games, casting web pages and streaming your own media files? In this article, we provide 13 Chromecast tips.
Google has a success number with its Chromecast. Globally over 30 million of these compact streaming devices have been sold worldwide. Understandable, because for a few bucks you make every television ‘smart’. Well-known apps that have Chromecast support built-in include NPO Missed, RTL XL, YouTube, and Netflix. So far, the familiar story, because you can do a lot more with this Google-scion than you would initially think. Read this article and be surprised!
01 Welcoming Chromecast
As soon as you configure your Chromecast via the Google Home app, you immediately get an interesting option. You can switch on the so-called guest mode. Incidentally, you can also find this function by navigating to Devices within the settings. Then tap the button with three dots and select Guest mode to activate this feature. All visitors can now easily transfer videos to your Chromecast without having to connect to the home network. When a guest tapes the cast icon (rectangle with three hyphens), a message appears stating that a Chromecast is nearby. Confirm with Connect. Via an inaudible ultrasonic sound, the Chromecast links itself to your visitor’s mobile device, provided the distance between the two devices is up to seven meters. In the unlikely event that the connection is not established, you must manually enter the correct PIN code. You can then start the video stream via a direct Wi-Fi connection.
02 Cast Android screen
You send a Chromecast effortlessly from an iOS or Android device. That works fine from both operating systems, although Android has a nice extra for you in store. This way you can cast the full screen of the mobile device to your television. Handy in case a certain app does not have Chromecast support built-in. Open the Google Home app and expand the settings menu at the top left. You then choose to Cast Screen / Audio twice. Consider carefully whether you want to share the Android screen portrait or landscape, although you can also change that during playback. Finally, tap on the name of your Chromecast. Do you encounter problems to share the Android screen? The right microphone rights may not be available. Open the Android settings and go to Apps / Google Play services / Permissions. Activate the switch behind Microphone
02 You cast the Android screen effortlessly to the television.
03 Adjust the Backdrop window
If you do not cast anything to your Chromecast, a slideshow will normally appear on your television with snapshots you’ve saved to Google Photos. Do not you think so? You decide which data you display in this so-called Backdrop window. Open the Google Home app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. Select the Devices item via the settings menu. You then tap Edit backdrop. An extensive list of information appears that you can display on the Backdrop window. By default, the options are Google Photos and Weather already turned on. As an alternative, you can also add snapshots from Facebook and Flickr, although you have to provide login details for this. It is nice that you decide which photo albums you show on television. Incidentally, you do not necessarily have to share personal matters. For example, your Chromecast will play important news headlines through Play Newsstand. You can also display general photographs from the web. Make a choice and adjust the refresh rate of the slideshow via Custom speed.
There are currently three different Chromecasts for sale. First of all, you buy the regular version for 39 euros. This allows you to cast videos via the wireless network in a maximum resolution of 1080p. If you want a more stable network connection, consider the Chromecast Ultra. This device costs 79 euros and has the added value that an ethernet adapter is included in the power supply. This more luxurious version also supports a maximum resolution of 2160p (4K Ultra HD), for example through the Netflix or YouTube app. Finally, Google has the Chromecast Audio in its range. As the name suggests, this product is only able to cast audio to the amplifier or speaker. The Chromecast Audio costs 39 euros. Who wants to equip a regular Chromecast or Chromecast Audio with ethernet?
The power supply of the Chromecast Ultra includes an integrated Ethernet adapter.
04 PC control
Your Chromecast does not work exclusively with your smartphone or tablet, because you can also control the device from your computer. All kinds of websites even have Chromecast support built in, so you can cast web videos directly. You do need Chrome for this. Open Netflix or YouTube in this browser and search for a nice video, movie or series. Click on the cast icon during playback, after which you click the name of the Chromecast. Note that a new icon pops up in the top right corner of Chrome. Click on it to adjust the volume or end the video display. Other websites with Chromecast support include Dailymotion, Google Play Movies, and Facebook.
04 The Netflix website has Chromecast support built-in.
05 Casting tab
If a website does not offer Chromecast support, there is no man overboard yet. You can cast a complete Chrome tab. That way you give the Chromecast from the PC, for example, the request to pick up an episode of NPO Missed. It works simply. Surf to the web page you want to cast and open the Chrome menu at the top right. Via Caste click on the name of your Chromecast. A picture appears on the television in seconds. Use the cast icon in the upper-right corner of Chrome to control the volume level or pause the video. When a website has built-in Chromecast support, this option is always preferred (see the previous section). The picture and sound quality are better. Moreover, this option requires less computing power from the system.
05 From Chrome, you can easily control the display on the television.
06 Desktop sharing
You simply display the desktop of your computer on the television. This is useful when, for example, you have to give a presentation or show home-made photos. You need the Chrome browser for this. Open the menu at the top right and click on Cast. Behind Casten to you see a small arrow. As soon as you click on it, you choose Cast for the desktop. You then click on the name of your Chromecast, after which you confirm with Delen. In the last window, you decide to also play the sound of the PC on your television. Please note that you can only transfer audio from Windows machines. It does not work on a Mac or Chromebook.
06 Indicate whether you want to pass the desktop sound to your television.
Permanent cast icon
It is cumbersome to open the Chrome menu every time before the cast icon appears in the toolbar. You can also opt for a permanent view. In the Chrome menu, choose Cast again. You then right-click on the cast icon in the toolbar, after which you confirm with Always show icon.
07 Removing video clips
The Chromecast’s HDMI connector is optimized to play videos at a refresh rate of sixty frames per second. If a particular video stream has a different refresh rate, you may see shocks in the picture. This depends, among other things, on how the television processes the video stream. Especially people who cast sports competitions sometimes suffer from this. Good news, because after an adjustment your Chromecast can also play video content smoothly with a refresh rate of fifty frames per second. You need the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet for this. Open the top left of the settings menu and go to Devices. Tap the icon with the three dots and choose Settings. If you want to reduce the refresh rate of the HDMI output to fifty frames per second, set a checkmark for HDMI mode for 50 Hz.
Your Chromecast works great as a glorified game console for simple games. Since a year and a half-game developer can add a cast icon. The images appear on television and the smartphone serves as a controller. That way you are perfectly capable of playing video games in large format. Both for Android and iOS there are all kinds of nice titles. For example, try out the entertaining video game Angry Birds Friends. Once you open this game for the first time, the app within your home network automatically detects the Chromecast. You will see a message asking if you want to play Angry Birds Friends on a television. Tap OK, then tap the name of your Chromecast. Press Play on your smartphone screen and enjoy the game. In this example, you make a swipe gesture on the smartphone to launch the catapult. You then see the result on television. Tap twice in quick succession to open the menu. You can now close the television display if necessary.
08 Suitable games recognize the Chromecast on their own in the home network.
Multiplayer games are also available for Chromecast. Several people connect to the Chromecast with their smartphone or tablet, after which everyone can play along. If you like knowledge games, you might want to try out Big Web Quiz. You play this quiz with up to six people at once. There are also more games that you can play with multiple people on a Chromecast, such as Tricky Titans and SCRABBLE Blitz.
09 Plex media server
A Chromecast does not have a free USB port to connect a USB stick or external drive with media files. Do you also want to play your own media files via the Chromecast, for example, downloaded movies and series? The easiest method is to set up a Plex media server on your PC or nas. Via a mobile app, you send the media files directly to the Chromecast. Download the Plex Media Server program to your PC. In addition to Windows, versions for macOS and Linux are also available. You can also install the media server on a nas. For example, there is support for the brands Synology, QNAP, and Netgear. After the installation, Plex opens in your browser. Create an account and then log in.
10 Stream your own media
You first let Plex know at which locations your media files are stored. Click the Add library option and choose between Movies, TV Series, Music, Photos and Other videos. You consider a name for the location and set the desired language. In the next step you indicate in which folder the media files are stored. You confirm with Add library. Allow Gun Plex the time to build up the media catalog. For example, when you have added a folder with movie files, you will see all the covers appear. From the Plex media server you now directly cast media files to the Chromecast. Click on the cast icon at the top right. Then choose Cast and select the name of the Google device. You only have to play a movie in Plex to start the video stream on your television.
10 Use Plex to stream your own media files to your television.
11 Plex app
Do you find it difficult to control the Chromecast from the Plex media server? Understandable, because a computer is not such a handy device to select video streams for your television. Fortunately, you can easily connect the media server to the Plex app, after which you use a tablet or smartphone as a remote control. Important is that the mobile device is connected to the same home network as the Plex media server. After you have opened the app, log in with the correct username and password. Find a nice movie and press the cast icon at the top. A menu appears in which you select the correct player. Obviously, that’s your Chromecast. The video stream starts immediately. The mobile device now functions as a remote control. This allows you to pause playback and skip scenes.
11 You indicate in the Plex app which movie file you want to play on the Chromecast.
Is your Chromecast not working properly or is it not possible to connect to a mobile device? Sometimes it pays to return to the factory settings. A reset button is located on the side of the housing. Press and hold this button for a while. A message will appear stating that the Chromecast will reset itself to the factory settings, and the device will restart within a few seconds.
Every Chromecast has a small reset button, although it is not immediately obvious.
12 TV remote control
Anyone who accidentally presses the TV remote while using the Chromecast may be surprised. The device supports the HDMI-cec protocol, allowing it to process certain commands from a suitable remote control. This is how it works in certain apps to open or pause the video stream. Thanks to this function, it is therefore no longer necessary to first unlock the smartphone before you can pause. Convenient, because pausing via the TV remote is a lot faster. For example, it works in the YouTube and Google Play Music apps. Incidentally, it is a requirement that the television in question can handle the HDMI-cec protocol. Manufacturers also use different names for this. That’s what LG calls the protocol Simplink and Samsung Anynet +. Philips uses the name EasyLink.
13 5GHz support
Unlike the first-generation Chromecasts, all current models support the 5GHz frequency band. Especially in urban areas where many people live close together, the 2.4 GHz frequency band is too busy in many cases. The result is that because of all kinds of overlapping channels there is a lot of interference. If the Chromecast’s Wi-Fi connection is unstable, it is worthwhile to broadcast a 5GHz signal in many cases. You are less affected by neighboring networks, so your Chromecast may process smoother video streams. Keep in mind that other wireless devices must also be compatible with 5 GHz, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and e-readers. Fortunately, there are also so-called dual-band routers that can transmit the Wi-Fi signal in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
13 With most routers, you can broadcast a Wi-Fi signal via the 5GHz frequency band.