Got a super cheap streaming dongle from Google? Or are you planning to buy one? Here are 10 lesser-known tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of your Chromecast and unlock some of its hidden potential.
1. Get the Chromecast wallpaper
If you like the awesome photo slideshow that appears when your Chromecast dongle is waiting for an app to connect, you’ll be interested to know that you can see it as an internet page as well (to find the link to the actual jpegs you will need to view the source of the page and follow the url from there). You can also collect them in a pair of collections nicely set up on the web for other users to download and install.
2. Stream local files
You can broadcast browser tabs with Google Cast extension, and Chrome can play local files, which means you can stream local files if they are in a format compatible with Chrome (such as .mp3s and .mp4s). It may not work perfectly, especially with better quality videos or less powerful laptops, but it’s a good option to have around. Use Ctrl + O or Cmd + O to open a local file in Chrome, then use the Google Cast extension as usual.
3. Change the quality of streaming
Choose the Options link in the Google Cast extension drop-down list, and you can configure the broadcast quality used when you send a tab to the Chromecast. If you have a lot of bandwidth to work with, set it to Extreme; If there is a lot of activity on your local network and you are having issues, try the Standard option. For most users, the default High option should suffice.
4. Share party playlists
QCast Music is a free app from the Google Play Store that is linked to your Google Play Music All Access account (with support for other subscription services to come). You can stream party playlists to your TV, then let your guests vote on whether a particular song can be kept or deleted. The party host has the final say, in case you want to impose your favorite band on everyone.
5. Broadcast your desktop
The ability to cast your entire desktop is now an option in the Google Cast extension. Click the expand button, then click the small down arrow to find the setting. There’s also the option to restrict streaming to audio only, which is useful if you’re just listening to music. Take Cast the whole screen to send your entire desktop to the Chromecast dongle, but be prepared for a few bugs in development.
6. Stream movies from Google Drive
If you’ve taken advantage of the drop in storage prices for Google Drive and keep movies there, there are a few different ways you can Chromecast them (like in Tip 2). The easiest methods to use are apps like the premium version of AllCast or Android L-ready local broadcast. Alternatively, you can try a media server solution such as BubbleUPnP server, although the setup is slightly more complex.
7. Find what’s on your Chromecast
This feature is not yet available, but it’s on the way so we will include it. If you’ve been paying attention during the Google I / O Keynote this year, you’ll know that the Chromecast home screen is updated to show a user-defined photo gallery. When this update arrives, you will be able to ask your phone “what’s on my Chromecast” to get information from Google about where a photo was taken or what it represents.
8. Mirror your Android device
In the last two weeks Android Chromecast app has been updated to allow the dongle to mirror your phone or tablet display. You will need one of the following devices: Nexus 4, 5, 7 (second generation), 10, Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, Note 3 and 10, HTC One M7, LG G2, G3 and G Pro 2. Run the app, and the Cast Screen option appears in the menu. When you switch from landscape mode to portrait mode on your device, the distribution also changes.
9. Find compatible apps
Google maintains his own site where Chromecast compatible apps are listed. Check back regularly – and pay attention to the New tab – to be the first to know when your favorite app is upgraded. Recent additions to the list include WatchESPN and PBS Kids. Don’t worry if you forget to tag Google’s list; if major applications are added to the list, we usually let you know.
10. Reset your Chromecast to factory settings
If you are giving away or trying to troubleshoot your Chromecast, a factory reset may be needed. To do this, press and hold the button on your device for 25-30 seconds until it restarts. You can also go to the Chromecast app, select the dongle, and then select Chromecast Factory Reset from the settings menu. The same option can be found in the Windows or Mac setup app which you can find at www.google.com/chromecast/setup.