How Does Chromecast Work?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Chromecast. The commercials make it seem like magic.

And let’s be honest, the best technologies always seem that way. Simply put, Chromecast allows you to play online content on your TV. It works with a variety of apps that you probably already have downloaded on your phone or tablet, including Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, Google Play, HBO Go, and more, plus the Google Chrome browser (of course). But here are some details the commercials don’t tell you about.

  1. The content is shared with your TV through your wireless network, so before you can transfer something from your phone to your TV, you’ll have to get your Chromecast and your mobile device connected to your Wi-Fi.
  2. While one end of Chromecast fits into your TV’s HDMI port, the other end is a micro USB port (not shown in commercials). You’ll use the cable provided to either connect the Chromecast to your TV’s USB port or connect to the power unit that you’ll then plug into an outlet.
  3. If you want to “cast” a show or other entertainment from your browser, you’ll need to download Google Chrome, as well as the Google Cast extension.
  4. Whether you’re working from a browser or an app, you’ll want to look for the cast button. This will be the way you tell Chromecast to pick up what you’re playing on your mobile device. The Chromecast button appears in certain apps and in Google Chrome once you download the Google Cast extension.

Check out this short tutorial on how to cast from YouTube as a simple example of how to use Chromecast.

So, it is magic? Nah. It’s just utilizing your Wi-Fi to take something from a small screen to a big one. But for only $35, it’s a pretty nifty trick regardless.

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