Top 8 Ways to Use Google Chromecast
By Jason Cipriani
Updated September 19, 2017
The Google Chromecast allows you to stream video content from the Internet to any HDTV that has a standard HDMI port -- essentially turning your existing TV into a "smart TV." Right now there aren't a lot of services beyond those owned by Google and Netflix, but there's enough to get some quality use out of the tiny device.
The Chromecast App on iOS and Android
Before you can begin using your Chromecast, you'll need to connect it to the Wi-Fi network in your home. Initially, this was only possible on an Android device or by using your computer's browser.
Now that Chromecast is compatible with iOS devices as well, you can use your iPhone or iPad to set up and manage the dongle if you prefer.
No matter what mobile device you have, you can use the Chromecast app to set up Wi-Fi connections, give the device a name, and restart it should you have any issues.
Related: Chromecast for Android
Google Play Music
Android owners are already familiar with the Play Music app. Since the Chromecast is made by Google, it only makes sense that Play Music supports it as well.
With Play Music, you can stream music from your device straight to Chromecast, using your TV as a speaker. Your existing playlists and music collection, whether on your device or in the cloud, will all play nicely.
Just tap on the Chromecast button in the Play Music app and select the respective Chromecast you want to stream to.
Google Play Movies
As with Play Music, you probably already know about Play Movies on your Android gadget.
Purchasing or renting content from Google via the Play Store is incredibly simple, and up until the Chromecast's release the only option was to watch it on your Android device or on your computer.
Now you can stream content directly from Play Movies and TV Shows to your TV via Chromecast.
Again, just tap on the Chromecast button in the Play Movies app and send the content to your TV.
YouTube (which is owned by Google), has pretty much anything and everything you could possibly want to watch. Whether it's a clip from a recent TV episode, the latest home-video-gone-viral, or just a cat stuck in a box, you're likely to find it on YouTube.
Using the YouTube app on iOS or Android you're able to stream videos to your Chromecast.
You can easily create a playlist using your Google account, either in the website or in the app (tap on the '+' sign when viewing a video's description) and stream it all to Chromecast.
Content Stored On Your Device
In an ideal world, you'd be able to stream absolutely anything to your TV via Chromecast. Unfortunately, you can't do that yet.
Until Google decides to implement this kind of all-encompassing streaming, be sure to follow Android developer Koushik Dutta on Google+.
He's already put out a few beta versions of an app that can stream local content to the Chromecast. Recently, this app was "broken" by an update to Google's software development kit (SDK). Nonetheless, Google and Dutta have both said this bug will be fixed. Follow him to see updates regarding Chromecast and his app development.
Related: Koushik Dutta on Google+.
Netflix is the only non-Google service with support for Chromecast built in.
In order to use Chromecast with Netflix, you'll need a streaming subscription with Netflix and the app installed on your iOS or Android device.
Once you're all set up, you're able to stream any media from Netflix to your Chromecast with just a few taps.
A subscription with Netflix will cost you $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming across all of your supported devices.
What about streaming content from your computer to Chromecast? Well, it's possible thanks to a Chrome extension from Google called Google Cast.
That's right, Google requires you to use Chrome in order to stream content from your computer to Chromecast.
Once installed and connected, you can stream a specific tab or mirror your entire screen from the extension's menu.
To mirror your desktop open the extension, click on the small down-arrow and select "Cast Entire Screen." Just keep in mind mirroring your entire screen is an experimental feature, and may not always work as expected.
Local Content on your Computer
Streaming local content on a mobile device isn't currently possible, but it is possible to stream local content on your computer to Chromecast.
To do so, you'll need to be using Chrome and Google Cast extension from the previous slide. Open a new tab, then go to File > Open File and select the movie or music files you'd like to play on your TV. Once the content starts playing, use the extension to send the tab to your Chromecast.
Sure, it's a bit of a workaround, but it works quite well.
Jason Cipriani has been a technology writer since 2009. He offers daily tech tips on CNET, reviews new products on TechdadReview.com, serves as a weekly contributor to the "Pueblo Chieftain" newspaper and covers tech-related topics for "PULP" magazine.