9 Google Chromecast Hacks to Make Life Easier

Tips and tricks to make your Chromecast do more than just cast movies to a TV

Back of a tv with Google Chromecast
Connect the Chromecast to the HDMI port of your TV.

With a Google Chromecast device connected to the HDMI port of your television set, it's possible to use the Google Home app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android-based mobile device to stream on-demand and live TV shows and movies from the Internet, and watch them on your TV's screen - without subscribing to a cable television service. 

It's also possible to stream content stored within your mobile device, including videos, photos, and music, to your television set using the Google Chromecast. Beyond just streaming TV shows and movies, with a few simple hacks, your Google Chromecast can do much more.

01
of 09

Install the Best Apps to Stream the TV Shows and Movies You Want

Playing YouTube on an iPad
When playing a YouTube video on your smartphone or tablet, tap on the Cast button to watch it on your television set via the Chromecast device.

A growing number of mobile device apps now have a Cast feature. Tapping the Cast icon allows you to transmit what you're seeing on your smartphone or tablet's screen, and view it on your TV, assuming a Chromecast device is connected to your TV.

Be sure to install appropriate apps, based on what content you want to stream from your mobile device. You can acquire appropriate and optional apps from the App Store associated with your mobile device, or browse for apps while using the Google Home mobile app.

From your computer or mobile device's web browser you can easily learn about Chromecast compatible apps with a built in Cast feature.

For example, to watch YouTube videos on your television screen, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Google Home mobile app on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. From the Browse screen, select the YouTube app and install it.
  3. Launch the YouTube app on your mobile device.
  4. Tap on the Home, Trending, Subscriptions, or Search icon to find and choose the video(s) you want to watch.
  5. When the video starts playing, tap on the Cast icon (displayed near the top-right corner of the screen), and the video will stream from the Internet to your mobile device, and then wirelessly get transferred to your television screen.
  6. Use the YouTube mobile app's onscreen controls to Play, Pause, Fast Forward, or Rewind the selected video as you normally would.

​In addition to YouTube, apps for all of the major TV networks, as well as streaming video services (including Google Play, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video) offer the Cast feature and are available from the app store associated with your mobile device. 

02
of 09

Display News Headlines and Weather As Your Backdrop

Google Chrome menu
From this menu within the Google Home mobile app, customize what content you want displayed on your television screen when Chromecast is turned on, but not streaming videos.

When video content is not actively streaming, your Chromecast can display a customizable Backdrop screen that showcases news headlines, your local weather forecast, or a custom slideshow that features digital images you select. To customize this display, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Tap on the Menu icon that's displayed in the top-left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap on the Devices option.​
  4. Tap on the Edit Backdrop option (displayed near the center of the screen).
  5. From the Backdrop menu (shown), make sure all of the options on this menu are turned off. Then, to view Curated News headlines, tap on the virtual switch associated with this option to turn on the feature. Alternatively, tap on the Play Newsstand option, and then turn on the virtual switch associated with this feature. You can then follow the on-screen prompts to customize your Google Newsstand options. To display local weather information, tap the Weather option to turn on this feature.
  6. Press the < icon displayed in the top-left corner of the screen to save your changes and return to the Google Home app's Welcome Home screen.

​On an Android mobile device, it's possible to display images on your TV screen directly from the Gallery or Photos app that came preinstalled on your device. Tap the Cast icon displayed on the screen when viewing photos.

03
of 09

Display a Customized Slideshow As Your Backdrop

Google Photos
To display your personal images that are stored within a Google Photos account on your Chromecast Backdrop, select which album you want to showcase.

During periods when your TV is on and your Chromecast device is turned on but not streaming content, the Backdrop screen can display an animated slideshow that showcases your favorite images. To customize this option, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Tap on the Menu icon that's displayed in the top-left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap on the Devices option.
  4. Tap on the Edit Backdrop option.
  5. Turn off all of the options listed on the menu, except for one of the photo-related options. Select and turn on the Google Photos option to display images stored using Google Photos. Turn on the Flickr option to select images stored within your Flickr account. Select the Google Arts & Culture option to display artwork from around the world, or choose the Featured Photos option to view curated images from the Internet (selected by Google). To view images of the earth and outer space, select the Earth and Space option.
  6. To display your own photos, choose which album or directory of images you want to showcase when prompted to do so. (The images or albums must already be stored online, within Google Photos or Flickr.)
  7. To adjust how quickly the images change on the screen, tap on the Custom Speed option, and then choose between Slow, Normal, or Fast.
  8. Tap on the < icon multiple times, as needed, to return to the main Welcome Home screen. The selected images will now be displayed on your TV as your customized Chromecast Backdrop.
04
of 09

Play Files from Your PC or Mac to Your TV Screen

Imported video file
Import a video file into the Chrome web browser (it must be stored on your computer), and play it on your TV.

As long as your Windows PC or Mac computer is connected to the same Wi-Fi hotspot as your Chromecast device, you can play video files that are stored on your computer on both your computer screen and television screen simultaneously. To accomplish this, follow these steps:

  1. Set up and turn on your television and Chromecast device.
  2. Launch the Chrome web browser on your computer.
  3. If you're a Windows PC user, within the web browser's address field, type file:///c:/ followed by the path of the file. If you're a Mac user, type file://localhost/Users/yourusername, followed by the path of the file. Alternatively, drag and drop the media file directly into the Chrome web browser.
  4. When the file is displayed within your Chrome web browser window, click on the menu icon found in the top-right corner of the screen (which looks like three vertical dots), and select the Cast option.
  5. Select the Play option, and the video will play on your computer screen and TV screen simultaneously.
05
of 09

Play Google Slide Presentations On Your TV Screen

Google slides
Wirelessly stream Google Slide presentations from your computer to your TV screen via Chromecast.

Using the free Google Slides application on your computer or mobile device, it's easy to create animated slide presentations, and then display them from your computer or mobile device onto your TV screen. (You can also import Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into Google Slides to display them on your TV.)

Follow these steps to stream a Google Slides presentation from your PC or Mac computer (or any compatible and Internet-connected mobile device) to your TV:

  1. Make sure your computer or mobile device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast device.
  2. Launch the Google Slides on your computer (or the Google Slides app on your mobile device), and create a digital slide presentation. Alternatively, load a pre-existing Google Slides presentation, or import a PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Begin playing the presentation by clicking on the Present icon. 
  4. Click on the Menu icon (which looks like three vertical dots) that's located in the top-right corner of the Google Slides window, and select the Cast option.
  5. Choose between the Presenter or Present on Another Screen view.
  6. Control the presentation from your computer, while displaying the digital slides on your television screen.
06
of 09

Stream Music Through Your TV's Speakers or Home Theater System

iHeart Radio music
From the Google Home mobile app, choose a streaming music service app, and then select what music you want to hear via your TV's speakers or home theater system.

In addition to streaming video content from the Internet (via your mobile device) to your Chromecast device that's connected to your TV, it's also possible to stream unlimited music from your existing Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Music, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Deezer, TuneIn Radio, or Musixmatch account.

To take advantage of your TV's speakers or home theater system to listen to your favorite music, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Google Home mobile app on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Tap on the Browse icon that's displayed at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap on the Music button.
  4. From the Music menu, select a compatible streaming music service, and then download the appropriate app by tapping on the Get App option. For example, if you have a pre-existing Pandora account, download and install the Pandora app. Music apps already installed are displayed near the top of the screen. Optional music apps available for downloading are displayed near the bottom of the screen, so scroll down to the Add More Services heading.
  5. Launch the music service app and sign into your account (or create a new account).
  6. Select the music or streaming music station you want to hear.
  7. Once the music (or music video) begins playing on your mobile device's screen, tap on the Cast icon. The music (or music video) will begin playing on your TV screen and the audio will be heard through your TV's speakers or home theater system systems.
07
of 09

Stream Video Content to Your TV, But Listen Using Headphones

Streaming video content
Watch videos shot or stored using your mobile device on your television screen, but hear the audio from your mobile device (or headphones linked with it).

Using the free LocalCast for Chromecast mobile app, you're able to select content that's stored within your mobile device, such as a video file, and stream the video content to your TV. However, you can simultaneously stream the audio portion of that content to the speaker(s) built into your smartphone or tablet, or listen to the audio using wired or wireless headphones that are connected or linked to your mobile device.

To use the LocalCast for Chromecast app, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install the free LocalCast for Chromecast app for your iOS (iPhone/iPad) or Android-based mobile device.
  2. Launch the app, and choose compatible content that's either stored within your mobile device, or that's streamed via the Internet from a source that's compatible with the app.
  3. When the selected content begins playing, tap on the Cast icon to stream the content from your mobile device screen to your TV.
  4. From the Now Playing screen, tap on the Route Audio to Phone option (the phone icon). While the video is playing on your TV screen, the accompanying audio will begin playing through your phone's speaker(s), or headphones that are connected to or linked with your mobile device.
08
of 09

Use Chromecast From a Hotel Room

The next time you travel somewhere and will be staying at a hotel, bring along your Chromecast device. Instead of paying upwards of $15 for a pay-per-view movie, or watching whatever limited channel lineup is available from the hotel's TV service, plug the Chromecast into the hotel room's TV, link it with your personal Wi-Fi Hotspot, and you'll have free audio and video programming on demand.

Be sure to bring along your own Personal Wi-Fi Hotspot that allows you to connect multiple devices to the same Wi-Fi network. The Skyroam device, for example, offers unlimited Internet while traveling for $8.00 per day.

09
of 09

Control Your Chromecast Using Your Voice

Google home speaker
Use a Google Home smart speaker to issue verbal commands to your Chromecast.

The Chromecast device that links to your TV and that typically gets controlled using the Google Home mobile app running on your smartphone or tablet can also be controlled using your voice when you purchase and install an optional Google Home smart speaker.

Make sure the Chromecast device and Google Home speaker are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and that the Google Home speaker is located in the same room as the TV. 

Now, while you're watching video content via Chromecast, use verbal commands to find audio or video content, and then play, pause, fast forward, or rewind content, for example.