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Tips for making the most of Google Chromecast

Here's how to get more out of your Chromecast with the Chrome browser
Here's how to get more out of your Chromecast with the Chrome browser
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Open Chrome and hit Ctrl+O or Command+O to select the media file you want to stream
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Open Chrome and hit Ctrl+O or Command+O to select the media file you want to stream
The Google Cast extension allows you to send an open tab to your HDTV
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The Google Cast extension allows you to send an open tab to your HDTV
The Google Cast extension has an experimental option to mirror your entire desktop
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The Google Cast extension has an experimental option to mirror your entire desktop
Under Google Cast extensions you can tweak projection quality and how the video behaves when casting
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Under Google Cast extensions you can tweak projection quality and how the video behaves when casting
With the Google Cast extension for Chrome you can easily stream local media to the Chromecast
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With the Google Cast extension for Chrome you can easily stream local media to the Chromecast
Keep video playing full screen on your TV from the Chrome browser by using Alt+Tab
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Keep video playing full screen on your TV from the Chrome browser by using Alt+Tab
Here's how to get more out of your Chromecast with the Chrome browser
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Here's how to get more out of your Chromecast with the Chrome browser

Google's Chromecast currently doesn't have a whole lot of options other than its four officially supported apps: YouTube, Netflix, Google Music and Google Video. Following on from our full review of the Chromecast, here's some user tips on how to get a little more out of the device, from mirroring your desktop to playing your own video files.

For each of these tips to work you'll need to have Google Chrome and the Google Cast extension installed on your Mac or PC.

Stream your own local videos

While it's not designed to work as a receiving device like say a Roku or Apple TV, you can stream your local videos to the Chromecast if the Chrome browser on your computer supports the file type. In my tests, I've been able to stream the most common file types like mp4, m4v, avi and mpeg. While mkv files display the picture, there's no audio.

With the Google Cast extension for Chrome you can easily stream local media to the Chromecast
With the Google Cast extension for Chrome you can easily stream local media to the Chromecast

To stream your local videos, open the Chrome browser and hit Ctrl+O in Windows or Command+O on a Mac. Then navigate to the video you want to play. You can select files from your local drive, connected external drive, and even network locations.

Open Chrome and hit Ctrl+O or Command+O to select the media file you want to stream
Open Chrome and hit Ctrl+O or Command+O to select the media file you want to stream

Send websites to the big screen

The obvious extension of this is that you can stream a webpage to your HDTV via Chromecast. To do this, just open the site you want in a new tab and click the Cast this tab button.

The Google Cast extension allows you to send an open tab to your HDTV
The Google Cast extension allows you to send an open tab to your HDTV

Mirror your full desktop

Another interesting thing you can do is send your entire desktop to the big screen. To mirror your full desktop click the small down arrow and then click the experimental option to cast your entire screen. Because this is still an experimental feature, it doesn't support audio.

The Google Cast extension has an experimental option to mirror your entire desktop
The Google Cast extension has an experimental option to mirror your entire desktop

Adjust streaming quality to improve video playback

The Chromecast works best when you're using it as intended, to stream Netflix or YouTube from the internet, then using your mobile device as a remote control. But when using the Google Cast extension, there might be times when streaming video isn't as reliable. You can experience buffering playback problems if your Wi-Fi signal isn't strong enough or the traffic load is too high.To improve playback you'll need to take a hit in terms of the quality of the image. First open the Google Cast extension and select Options, then under Tab projection quality set it to Standard (480p).

Under Google Cast extensions you can tweak projection quality and how the video behaves when casting
Under Google Cast extensions you can tweak projection quality and how the video behaves when casting

Make video always play full screen

After sending video to from your phone or tablet, you can close the Chromecast app and do other tasks on your device, and the video continues to display in full screen mode. But when you send video from the Chrome browser, you have to keep the video in full screen mode on the browser all the time for it to display that way on your TV.

Keep video playing full screen on your TV from the Chrome browser by using Alt+Tab
Keep video playing full screen on your TV from the Chrome browser by using Alt+Tab

There's an easy solution to this though. When you're streaming video from Chrome, hit Alt+Tab to switch tasks, and allow the video to play in full screen in the background. Then you can use your computer for other things.

Hopefully as the Chromecast project continues, these workarounds won't be necessary, and will be integrated better into the features.

Also remember, if you don't have an Android device, you can also use your iPad or iPhone to send media content to the Chromecast.

22 comments
Stradric
I think it's a bit early for this article. Please revisit when Google has finalized the SDK and allowed 3rd party devs to release their products. I'm particularly looking forward to Plex supporting the Cast API.
Artie Langston
I'll be truly shocked if Hulu plus ever arrives for Chromecast, and if the past is any indication, it might be foolhardy to ever expect it. We still get good use out of our sadly orphaned Logictech Revue, but there was never a compatible Hulu app, not even one that was capable of being side loaded. There is obviously something behind the scenes that prevents Google from offering Hulu on their devices. Hope I'm wrong, but Netflix is very worthwhile in itself. Just don't sit around waiting for Hulu if you're a fan.
Atul Malhotra
Who needs a new device ! I use a Chinese made USB TV stick that boasts of WiFi and DLNA. My Lumia 720 (with a 64 GB card that carries all my videos) streams everything wirelessly to my Panasonic LED TV perfectly ! And yes, the TV stick cost me just 50 USD !
Hugh Roper
I was excited when I placed the order for my Chromecast. I teach a class of high school student early in the morning and was excited to give the students with Android phones the capability to collaborate with the class via the projector (like their iOS classmates do with AppleTV). Unfortunately the Chromecast never gets plugged in. There is little content on Google Play or Netflix that fits in with my class. Youtube is blocked on WiFi. And the Chrome (mobile) browser doesn't (yet) support Chromecast. Chromecast, like it's predecessor (Nexus Q) was shipped way too early.
Saajid Rizvi
Avi files not supported on chrome browser & mkv did send audio as well.So im left with mkv & mp4 files to stream where all my movies are in avi.Plz let me know if there's any extension tht allows avi to play on chrome browser on my desktop.
Chris Harrison
If you're wanting to Stream videos through Chrome to ChromeCast but they wont play by simply doing CTRL + O due to video/format/ext issues. Look into installing Plex. Plex allows you to use their installed software to play media through the chrome browser, which in turn will allow you to cast over to ChromeCast (if that makes any since?) For now that is the best way I know of to broadcast local media content. There are endless amounts of possibilities with just a little ingenuity, that's what makes ChromeCast awesome. But I agree this article is a little to early IMHO.
Appestry
I’m an Android app developer, who is waiting for the official Chromecast SDK release, which is currently in "Developer Preview". I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever be available for independent developers like me. My app - SPLIT BROWSER - has been ready with full support for Chromecast for a while but I haven't got any replies from Google about their release date. I've also heard that Google will only "whitelist" apps for major media companies. So we have to wait and see. Here's a video demo of Chromecast support in my app: http://youtu.be/Nv8JfwaG1k4 This Google Cast SDK release page will have updates when they make it official: https://developers.google.com/cast/release-notes
Manda MEss
Some have no faith :( Hulu + has jumped onto the Chromecast bandwagon, and with some patience.. Every other needed option will be added as well. This is only my opinion, but this is Google we are talking about.
Debra Linton
I don't have usb port on my hdtv however there is one on my xfinity cable box. Would this work using my cable box?
Leah Redman
I'm really enjoying our Chromecast so far, but I wish that Chrome (mobile) was supported. That's really ALL I'm waiting for at the moment. Every other app that comes out will be a bonus.