We’ve all bought a new gadget, got it home and quickly realised that we don’t actually know how to set it up. And, after blankly staring at the instructions for a while, we all do the same thing and resort to the internet.
The Google Chromecast can often be that gadget so we’ve put together a simple, step by step guide on how to set it up, along with some tips on how to get the most out of the smart TV device.
Currently on sale for £30, the Google Chromecast is designed to turn any bog-standard TV "smart". Put another way, the Chromecast allows you to stream your favourite Netflix, Sky or Amazon Prime shows straight to your TV, rather than you having to watch them from your smaller laptop or phone screens.
Beyond TV, you can also use your Google Chromecast to play music from Spotify or cast photos to show the whole family.
And if you are still considering buying a smart TV stick, check out our selection of best streaming devices and best streaming sticks to see how it compares to other brands', otherwise it is available from a range of retailers:
Check out other entertainment devices with our Amazon Fire Stick review, Fire TV Cube review, and Roku Premiere review. Or, head to our Chromecast with Google TV review and Chromecast vs Chromecast Ultra explainer to find out how the brand's latest device compares.
How to set up a Chromecast: step by step
Step 1: Plug in the device
Plug your Google Chromecast into your TV’s HDMI port. Then, connect the USB power cable to your Chromecast and either plug it into your TV’s USB port or use the adaptor to plug it into a power socket.
All the cables and adaptor should be included in the Google Chromecast box. When both cables are plugged in, your TV should show a welcome message. It should also show a Chromecast device number - make a note of this for later.
Step 2: Download the Google Home app
With either your mobile phone or a tablet, download the Google Home app from the App Store.
Step 3: Create a Google account
Once downloaded, the Google Home app will ask you to create a Google account if you do not already have one. Otherwise, it will then take you through a series of prompts including choosing an account to connect to.
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Step 4: Follow instructions
Continue to follow the instructions given by the Google app. If you are having any trouble, make sure your Bluetooth is turned on. The app should then be looking for devices to connect to.
Choose the device with the same number that was shown on the welcome screen in step one.
Step 5: Connect Chromecast to Wi-Fi
When you have confirmed the device number, Google will then want to connect to a Wi-Fi network. The network you choose to connect to should be the same Wi-Fi you are using on your phone or tablet.
Once you have chosen a Wi-Fi network to connect to, a ‘Almost Finished!’ message should appear on your TV. Finally, click ‘next’ and your Chromecast should be set up.
What can you Chromecast?
Google offers a wide range of Chromecast-compatible entertainment apps including all the major streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW TV and Disney+, along with catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer.
You may be interested to hear that alongside all the family-centric content, Disney+ has launched a new, more adult-oriented channel called Star. Read more in our Star on Disney Plus explainer, and don't miss our full list of Disney Plus Star content either.
Music apps like Spotify and Soundcloud are also available and you can share videos and photos from YouTube, Facebook and Chrome itself.
How to Chromecast Sky Go
Sky Go is the company’s very own streaming service available for free to Sky TV subscribers. Depending on your subscription, this means you can watch up to 51 live channels including Sky Atlantic, MTV, Comedy Central and Sky Sports.
However, there is often a lot of confusion around whether you can cast the Sky Go app via Chromecast. This is because the process varies depending on what country you are trying to cast in.
While the latest version of the Sky Go app officially supports casting to Chromecast, the app is currently only available in New Zealand. Therefore, those in the UK are not currently able to cast the Sky Go app.
There is one silver lining, which is that NOW TV is a Chromecast-compatible app in the UK. Depending on your NOW TV subscription, you should be able to access a lot of the Sky channels including multiple Sky Sports channels, Sky Atlantic and Sky Cinema.
How to Chromecast Amazon Prime
Because Amazon Prime Video is a Chromecast-enabled app, the process for casting should be relatively simple.
When you want to start casting, open the Prime Video app and tap the cast button. You will then be prompted to choose a device to cast to. Select your device and the cast button will change colour to let you know it successfully connected.
You should then be able to watch any TV shows or films directly on your TV screen. To stop casting, tap the cast button to disconnect.
How to Chromecast from a laptop
From a laptop, you will be able to share Chrome tabs, music, files and your whole desktop if you wish.
To cast a tab, simply open Chrome and choose the tab you wish to cast. At the top right, click 'more' followed by the cast button. You should then be able to choose a Chromecast device (i.e. your TV) and cast whatever page you're on. When you're done, click 'stop casting' to the right of the address bar.
You also have the option to display your computer screen, rather than a specific tab. The process begins the same - open Chrome and click 'more' - but there should also be an option to 'cast to'. From the down arrow, you should be able to pick the option 'cast desktop' to share your whole screen. Then, simply choose your device just like before.
To show family members a photo or file from your computer, choose to 'cast file' from the drop down menu instead.
How to Chromecast using Google Home
As we mentioned, you can also control your Chromecast via a Google Home smart speaker (now known as the Google Nest Audio). After following the initial set-up instructions above, the is just a couple of additional steps you need to do in order to be able to turn your TV on with your voice.
Head to the Google Home app and hit the 'Devices' icon in the far right corner. You should then be allowed to add a new device. The app will steer you through a number of instructions, which will include heading to your Wi-Fi settings and choosing the Chromecast network.
When you click back onto the Google Home app, your TV screen and phone will be showing the same code - confirm it, if correct. The final stages are naming your Chromecast, connecting it to Wi-Fi and logging into your Google account (if this hasn't already been done).
And, you're ready to cast. Now, you can simply ask the Google smart speaker to play your favourite Netflix show, sit back and relax - no remote needed.
To get the most of your Google Nest speaker, we also suggest trying out a couple of these Google Home accessories, for the full experience. Or if you're looking for a smart display, read our Google Nest Hub Max review.