So, you finally caved and bought a Chromecast.

It's not exactly a big splurge, but some of you may have been putting it off because it seems complicated to figure out and set up. Well, that isn't the case. The whole purpose of Google's HDMI dongle is that it's suppose to be easy; easier for you to take a YouTube video on your phone, or a Netflix stream on your tablet, or a web browser tab on your computer, and wirelessly send it to your TV so you can see it on a big screen.

To help you make use of Chromecast's abilities sooner rather than later, Pocket-lint has detailed everything you need to know, including how to set it up and get started with it in no time. We've even discussed in more detail what the device is and can do. But we're only focusing on Chromecast, which is for TVs, and not on Chromecast Audio, a different version of Chromecast for speakers.

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Google launched the first $30 (£30) Chromecast in 2013. It's an affordable HDMI dongle that lets you wirelessly "cast" content to a television. It basically makes most TVs smart. Then, in 2015, Google launched $30 Chromecast 2. It's faster, more responsive, and just as affordable. And it arrived with an updated Chromecast app that serves as a one-stop shop for finding compatible apps and specific content across those apps.

In 2016, Google introduced the $69 (about £50) Chromecast Ultra, which works identically to its predecessors but uniquely offers the ability to cast 4K streams. Google also offers a $35 Chromecast Audio. Unlike the other three Chromecasts, Audio lets you wirelessly "cast" to speakers. That means your old speakers will essentially be turned into modern day speakers capable of playing music streamed from your devices.

For more information on Chromecast, check out these guides:

With Chromecast, you can send (aka "cast") movies, TV shows, photos, and websites from your computer or mobile device to your TV. Simply tap the Cast button in the Chrome browser on your computer, or tap the Cast button from a Cast-enabled app such as YouTube on your mobile device, and the content will instantly appear on your big TV. Visit this Google page to browse the thousands of apps and sites that support Chromecast.

You can cast movies, TV shows, and photos from Cast-enabled apps on Android smartphones, Android tablets, iPhones, and iPads. You can also cast entire sites or tabs from the Chrome browser on Windows desktops, Windows laptops, Mac desktops, Mac laptops, and Google Chromebooks. There's no remote required. To manage your Chromecast devices, simply use the Google Cast app or Google Cast browser extension.

Visit this Google page to see what else you can do with Chromecast.

You need the following in order to use Chromecast:

  • A TV/display with an HDMI input
  • Access to an open power outlet or open USB port on your TV/display
  • Access to Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4G network for Chromecast first generation or Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac 2.4/5G network for Chromecast second generation and Chromecast Ultra)
  • Google Cast mobile app on a compatible Android device or iOS device
  • Chrome browser on a compatible Windows computer, Mac computer, or Chromebook computer
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Set up your Chromecast

  • Chromecast (first generation): Plug one end of the USB power cable into your Chromecast and the other end of the cable into the power supply and then into a nearby power outlet. If you do not have access to an open outlet, you can also power your Chromecast by plugging the USB power cord directly into an open USB port on your TV. From there, plug your Chromecast into any open HDMI input on your TV.
  • Chromecast (second generation and Ultra): Plug one end of the USB power cable into your Chromecast and the other end of the cable into the power supply. From there, plug your Chromecast into any open HDMI input on your TV, and plug the power supply into an open outlet.

Once your Chromecast is plugged in and powered, you should see the Chromecast home screen on your TV. If you do not see it, use the input or source button on your TV’s remote to change the input until you see the Chromecast home screen.

Set up your mobile device

On your mobile device, tablet, or laptop, download the Google Cast app. Then, follow the app's setup instructions (also available here). The app will automatically find your Chromecast and prompt you to connect it to the same Wi-Fi network connected to your mobile device. It's important that your Chromecast and mobile device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Otherwise, you cannot cast from your mobile device to your TV.

You will also see an option to name your Chromecast, which is handy if you have multiple Chromecast devices and want to cast to a specific one. If you're having difficulty setting up your Chromecast through the Google Cast app, contact the Chromecast Support Team for more assistance.

Set up your computer

First of all, make sure you're using the latest version of Chrome by navigating to Settings > About Google Chrome. Then, update your Chrome browser to the latest version. If you're having trouble, here's how to update Chrome. Once that's done, navigate to chromecast.com/setup from the Chrome browser to setup Chromecast for your computer. Alternatively, install the Google Cast extension for your Chrome browser.

Both options will automatically find your Chromecast and prompt you to connect it to the same Wi-Fi network connected to your computer. It's important that your Chromecast and computer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Otherwise, you cannot cast from Chrome to your TV. If you're having difficulty setting up Chromecast on your computer, contact the Chromecast Support Team for more assistance.

Cast from your mobile device

Open a Cast-enabled app. In the corner, tap the Cast button, then tap the Chromecast device you'd like to cast to, and wait for the content to appear on your TV. When you're connected, the Cast button will turn colour. You can also cast your Android screen to your TV. Simply open the Google Cast app and tap the navigation drawer. From there, tap the Cast Screen button and select your Chromecast device.

Cast from Chrome on your computer

There are several ways to cast content from the Chrome browser on your computer. First, go to a cast-enabled site like youtube.com or netflix.com, then click the Cast icon in the bottom right corner of the video player, and wait for the site to appear on your TV. Alternatively, navigate to the Chrome Settings menu in the Chrome toolbar, then click"Cast...", and choose the Chromecast device you would like to cast to.

You could also open a tab in Chrome browser, then right click on the webpage, and click Cast. Although it's not required, you can install the Google Cast extension in order to get the Cast icon in your browser toolbar. From there, simply click the icon, then choose the Chromecast device you would like to cast to, and wait for the contents of your tab in Chrome to appear on your TV. This FAQ page has more info about casting tabs.

Visit this FAQ page to learn more about casting from a Cast-enabled app versus a Chrome tab. Also, Pocket-lint has a guide on 10 ways to enhance your Chromecast streaming experience.