As you may already know, Chromecast-enabled TVs and dongles, and other gadgets that support cast features can do so from Chrome on desktop computers as well as laptop and Chromebook platforms. More specifically, directly from the Google-built browser. That’s as opposed to relying on a mobile app or on-device apps that feature casting options.
However, Google hasn’t necessarily made that an easy feature to find. Although it is incredibly easy to use once you know where to look. At the very least, not if you don’t already use Chromecast or if you aren’t already familiar with deeper features in Google Chrome. In this guide article, we’ll cover exactly how to accomplish that task. As well as some of the reasons why you might want to.
Why would you want to cast from Chrome on your laptop or desktop?
Smart TVs and mobile apps have come a long way since the introduction of the world’s first Chromecast device.
On the former front, that not only means that most TVs have apps already installed for most streaming media. Many of the best newer sets even come with Chromecast Built-In. So users can, as often as not, stream directly from their mobile device apps. Making it easier than ever to get HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and a wealth of other streaming apps up on the big screen.
But, of course, that isn’t always the case for every app. In some cases, streaming apps simply aren’t included on a television. Whether by proxy or as a matter of lacking or failed negotiations for the app to be included. In other cases, pre-existing partnerships or proprietary priorities keep apps from being pre-installed.
In those cases, using a mobile app to stream to a Chromecast or Chromecast-enabled TV would seem an ideal solution. But that’s not always all that feasible either. Especially in cases where the smartphone has a low battery or simply isn’t available.
Fortunately, Google built Chromecast protocols on top of existing Chrome code and users have been able to cast from a desktop, laptop, or Chromebook using the desktop version of Chrome for quite some time. If that’s what you’re looking to accomplish, that’s exactly what this guide is here for. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Here’s how to Chromecast from desktop Chrome
Now, there are actually two methods to get what’s on your laptop or desktop screen up onto the TV. The first is fairly straightforward but not always intuitive for newcomers to the casting landscape. Namely, casting using streaming media sites that allow for it.
The second method is a bit laggier, at least in terms of inputs from the source device. So it’s not always the best option for showing things in real-time — aside from streaming media. That is unless you go into it prepared for some latency between mouse or touchpad inputs and a response on the television display output. And involves casting the entire screen. But we’ll discuss more on those topics as we come to them.
Using sites with a Cast button
As noted above, the first method is the easiest to use. And it should be the most intuitive to those who have already used a Chromecast device or Chromecast Built-In SmartTV. For our example, we’ll be using YouTube since it provides a clean interface and easy navigation without too many steps. But the process will be effectively the same for any website that supports Chromecast output from desktop or laptop Chrome. That includes sites such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, for example.
- Start your computer, whether desktop, laptop, or Chromebook, if you haven’t already. We’ll be using the latter for our example images but the process should be the same across all platforms
- Open a new Chrome window or a new Chrome tab, if you already have a window open
- Navigate to the site you’d like to stream. As noted above, we’re navigating to YouTube
- Search and navigate using the site UI — signing in first, if you haven’t already — for the media you’d like to play on your television
- Open the media. In the case of YouTube, the only required step beyond a search is a quick tap — for touchscreens — or click on the media title
- Look for the Chromecast icon in the playback area. Typically, as shown in our example photos below, sites house that within the playback area itself but sometimes require users to hover or click on the playback UI. On YouTube, it’s located in the bottom-right-hand side of the playback area, next to resizing and theater mode icons. In any case, the Chromecast icon is shaped like a square with stepping curved lines emanating into the square from the bottom-left-hand corner of the icon
- Tap or click on the Chromecast icon
- The UI will pop up a selector for choosing which Chromecast or Cast-enabled device to stream to. The location of the selector UI will vary from app to app. In YouTube, it shows up in the top-right-hand corner of the Chrome window. Select the output device you’d like to use. For our example, we’ve selected the “Downstairs Living Stadia,” which is the title we’ve given to the Stadia-bound 4K Chromecast device located n the downstairs living area
- The media should begin playing on that device almost immediately. Although there will potentially be some delay in the initial playback while the media and applet load up on the TV
- Stopping the playback requires a click or tap on the blue Chromecast icon that now appears at the top-right-hand side of the UI, then a tap on the previously selected playback device. Or, conversely, simply close the tab or window that’s being cast
If that doesn’t work, here are some straightforward troubleshooting tips
Of course, there are a few prerequisites to check before getting started. And these may also be the underlying issue if, for some reason, casting doesn’t start as it should. Or, for example, if the intended media playback device doesn’t appear in the list of output devices. It’s worth bearing in mind, though. This list is not exhaustive and there may be extraneous network or device issues behind any issues you may encounter.
Summarily, this is a list of common fixes for what can, in some network environments and for those who aren’t experienced with Chromecast, be underlying issues when these steps don’t work.
- Check to ensure that both the TV and Chromecast device — if an external device is to be used — are plugged in and powered on. An unpowered device will not appear in the list of available outputs.
- Ensure that the TV is set to the proper input. This is especially helpful if you’re using a Chromecast or Android TV (or Google TV) dongle. Some televisions will automatically switch over, such as those with Chromecast Built-In. But not all of them will
- Make sure that both your laptop, desktop, or Chromebook, and the Chromecast device are linked up to the proper Wi-Fi connection. Namely, they both need to be on the same network
- Check that you’ve selected the proper output device. All available castable devices will appear on your list. So if you have multiple devices, such as speakers, hubs, and televisions, you may have accidentally clicked or tapped the wrong one
Equally importantly, you may need to go back to step seven in the above-mentioned method or to step five in the below-mentioned method after checking any of these tips. Most commonly, the connection attempt will need to be closed — by clicking or tapping the blue casting icon in the top-right-hand side of the Chrome UI. Then you’ll need to connect again from those steps before the proper Chromecast device appears and/or reconnects.
Casting the entire page
The second method for connecting is somewhat more latency-ridden than a straightforward playback from a website. That means it isn’t always the best for applications that need real-time interaction. However, it can still be a great way to explore a website as a group. Such as planning a vacation or showing off something interesting that you’ve found with a group of friends or family.
You may also choose to use this method in a pinch- albeit typically with a lower resolution and other potential issues — to stream media from sites that don’t typically support it.
We’ll be exploring the former use-case scenario in our example, looking at a site for a vacation cruise to Antarctica. But, in any case, the process will be the same
- Open up your computer, Chromebook, or laptop and open up Chrome
- Open a new window or tab if one is already open
- Navigate to the website you’d like to cast from Chrome on your laptop or desktop to a Chromecast device or Chromecast-enabled TV. In this case, we’ve opted for Antarctica Expeditions from expeditions.com
- Click or tap on the three-dot menu icon located at the top-right hand side of the UI
- Tap or Click on the “Cast” option. That will be located roughly halfway down the menu
- As with the prior method, select the appropriate device that you’d like to cast to from your desktop or laptop computer via Chromecast or Chromecast Built-In
- The entire website, and for some users the entire Chrome instance, should appear on the larger screen. Although, as noted above, there will be plenty of latency in terms of inputs from the source device
- To close, the same steps as used for the previous method can be used