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You unbox your Chromecast. Connect it to your TV’s HDMI port. Then you stream YouTube videos to it, and forget about it…

At just $18, the Chromecast is an unmistakably great way to make your TV “smart”, but it can feel a bit of a one-trick pony once the initial euphoria wears off.

Fortunately, using various collections of apps, you can turn your Chromecast into a fully featured media player, even smaller than the Raspberry Pi The Easiest Raspberry Pi Media Centre, With RasPlex The Easiest Raspberry Pi Media Centre, With RasPlex Read More !

Chromecasting From Your Computer

With your Chrome device connected to your TV, Wi-Fi and fully setup, the first way you might choose to use it is to send video from the Chrome browser on your desktop computer or laptop, using the Google Cast extension.

muo-chromecast-chrome-cast

This might be the currently-viewed YouTube video, or perhaps streamed content from Hulu, or BBC iPlayer if you live in the UK. You might even be viewing Netflix or Amazon Instant Video on your desktop, and as long as you’re using the Chromecast extension the video can be sent from the computer to your Chromecast and viewed on your TV. Plenty of other PC to Chromecast options exist, from sharing the display to playing games 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast We've come up with 8 unique uses for Google's Chromecast. Read on to find out just how you can make even more use of your Chromecast. Read More . In fact, it’s even possible to use Chromecast with Google Hangouts calls The Simplest Way To Chromecast Your Hangout The Simplest Way To Chromecast Your Hangout If you've got a Chromecast, it's possible that you've thought about how you might use it to Chromecast a Hangout session. How? That's actually surprisingly easy. Read More !

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It’s simple, and can be achieved with a minimum of clicks. However, it isn’t particularly convenient. If you don’t own a laptop, there could be much toing and froing from the room you keep your computer in and your TV room.

Using Chromecast With Your Smartphone or Tablet

Using Windows Phone, Android or iOS? Each has various apps that can be used with Chromecast, and Android and iOS each has official Chromecast apps to configure the device, although this can also be done via desktop computer, of course.

muo-chromecast-ios-setup

Naturally Android users have the best collection of Chromecast friendly apps available, which means that you can install the Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer, etc. apps – pretty much all of those you would expect – along with VLC Media Player (enhanced with Chromecast support in mid-2014 Chromecast Support Will Come to VLC For Android, iOS, and Desktop Chromecast Support Will Come to VLC For Android, iOS, and Desktop VLC has announced Chromecast support will be coming within six weeks, first to the iOS version of the app, and later to the Android and desktop versions. Read More ) and any other compatible media players – and use the Chromecast button in the app to send the contents to your TV.

A full list of compatible media apps for your territory can be found at the Chromecast website, where you will find apps such as Blinkbox, Red Bull TV, Vevo and even TuneIn Radio.

Your PC + Chromecast = Media Centre

Although it is simple enough to cast video from your Chrome browser to your TV via Chromecast, this isn’t particularly useful for any media you might have stored on your PC. Videos and music in your Windows libraries (or stored in the home drives on Mac OS X and Linux) cannot be sent to the Chromecast by usual means as they cannot be opened in the Chrome web browser.

This doesn’t, however, mean that they cannot be sent to the Chromecast!

Using Plex Media Server you can index the media on your desktop computer and when used in conjunction with the $4.99 Plex app for Android (free if you have a Plex Pass Making The Best Media Center Better, With a Plex Pass [Giveaway] Making The Best Media Center Better, With a Plex Pass [Giveaway] Love Plex? You'll love a Plex Pass even more. With new and exclusive features only for Plex Pass holders, it's the best way to support development of the best media centre app around. Read More ), or iOS (but not the Windows Phone Plex app), you can send the streamed content to Chromecast.

muo-chromecast-plex-libary

This is a surprisingly simple process. After installing and setting up Plex on your computer (our detailed guide has you covered Your Guide To Plex - The Awesome Media Center Your Guide To Plex - The Awesome Media Center Love your digital collection of movies, TV shows and music, but hate using clumsy interfaces to play them on your TV? It's time to check out Plex, the ultimate media center software. Read More ) you will need to visit the Plex website to create a username and password and sign in with these details (select Media Manager from the Plex icon in the system tray).

muo-chromecast-iplayer

Once this is done, it’s useful to then browse any channels that appeal (such as Twitch, Vimeo, even YouTube, BBC iPlayer where available, etc.) and install these. You can then use the + button in the top-left to add the locations of your Movies, TV Shows, Music, Photos and Home Videos to the media centre library.

Plex will search for any DVD/Blu-ray covers that you’re missing as it indexes your media content, and associate these with your video and audio, making it easy to find what you’re looking for in the desktop media manager or in the mobile version.

On your mobile device, install the client app sign in with the credentials you setup earlier. As long as the PC with media content, the mobile device and the Chromecast are all on the same network you should be able to browse the contents of your Plex server from the mobile device and press the Chromecast button to send it to your TV.

muo-chromecast-plex

One of the great things about using Plex is that it doesn’t demand as many system resources as other media centre apps. Using your Android or iOS phone/tablet as a remote control is the magic juice that sends your content from Plex to your TV, effectively turning your Chromecast into as good a media centre as you will find.

Chromecast: Low Budget Smart TV & Media Streamer

It’s remarkable at just $18 that the Chromecast can do so much, especially after a period of uncertainty following its high profile launch. Fortunately, developers have finally caught up with the technology and flinging content from a smartphone to Chromecast is now a common feature in media players.

Plex’s support for Chromecast is a major bonus, too. Perhaps you’re still undecided between the Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku Chromecast Vs Apple TV Vs Roku: Which Media Streamer Suits You? Chromecast Vs Apple TV Vs Roku: Which Media Streamer Suits You? Media streaming devices are simply awesome. Those little boxes that connect to your TV can add a wealth of entertainment options to your living room. But which device is best for you? Read More , or perhaps you’ve taken the plunge. Have you used it yet? Do you plan on using it with Plex? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Robert J Dupuy
    July 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    I love both Chromecast and Plex. I purchased a lifetime Plex Pass when they were offering it for 75 dollars for a limited time way back when and just love it. The only thing that I wish they had was a Karaoke player to play my karaoke to Chromecast and a book reader option. I share my collection with a few friends and family and they just love Plex too.

  2. Lina
    June 3, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    One more app to add (that is applicable to chomecast) is ArkMC. It allows to stream media files from your iphone/ipad to a big stream. Moreover, it is integrated with Youtube which is a big benefit for me personally.

    • Christian Cawley
      June 3, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks for a great suggestion, Lina!

  3. Ramachandran
    May 24, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Can Chromecast be used to project 'Hangout video chat' on to a smart TV ( Samsung H 4250 ) from a Mto G android phone or an IPad 3 ?

  4. mememe
    May 2, 2015 at 2:09 am

    You can also upload your music to google Music Manager and listen to it with chromecast.

  5. appsman
    February 12, 2015 at 5:35 am

    One of my favorites apps is RockIt Karaoke, it's the only karaoke app on the app store compatible with chromecast : )

    • Christian Cawley
      February 13, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Karaoke? Now you're talking!

  6. piyush
    January 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    is there any way to send local media from laptop to chromecast without the smartphone???

    • likefunbutnot
      January 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Yes. Open it in the Chrome web browser and cast from that.

  7. marius
    January 21, 2015 at 9:50 am

    i lovr chromecast... i use plex and it rocks. the only problme is that thr video quality is not that great even in youtube...

  8. Josh
    January 21, 2015 at 8:04 am

    You can use the browser to open files from connected drives, copy the path into the search bar and hit enter

  9. Richard
    January 21, 2015 at 5:52 am

    Where do you get chromecast for $18.00?

    • likefunbutnot
      January 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      They got that cheap during the holidays. I was able to get both Chromecasts and FireTV sticks for $20 just before Xmas.

  10. Cid
    January 21, 2015 at 1:27 am

    I love my Plex/Chromecast setup! I use my Nexus 7 tablet and it works great. Well worth the $4.99 for the app in my view. I have yet to have any problems.

  11. Doc
    January 20, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Where are you finding a Chromecast for $18? The lowest price I can find is around $35!

    • Christian Cawley
      January 26, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      I believe it was a temporary discount, apologies for misleading anyone.

  12. likefunbutnot
    January 20, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    The biggest problem I have with most media streamers is inability to properly support multichannel audio. Anything more complex than AC3 or AAC and it'll probably just output in plain old stereo no matter what the source offerer.

    The best streamer experience is in my opinion an Amazon FireTV on a wired connection with its Plex client set to use XBMC as its default player. That's the only way I've found to maintain full fidelity with source files on a mainstream STB (and even then a small hack is necessary).

    The Chromecast has a couple unique problems besides lack of audio support: it can't be connected with a proper wire - which should at least be an option - and its reliance on a phone, tablet or computer for control can be at least as much a hassle as benefit. Most other devices in the stick form factor at least have an option to use a dedicated remote. It would be helpful if the Chromecast did as well.

    • Christian Cawley
      January 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Good observations, likefunbutnot. Interestingly we've just rolled an AppleTV at home, so it will be interestng to see how much more use the Chromecast gets.

      Just curious, what do you mean by "it can’t be connected with a proper wire"?

    • likefunbutnot
      January 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      @Christian Cawley,

      Media Streaming is most optimal when the unknowable forces of 802.11 are entirely removed from the equation. You don't want your Plex/Netflix/youtube stuttering because your net door neighbor's vacuum cleaner emits a harmonic of a 2.4GHz. I'd rather connect an STB with a 10Mbit ethernet cable than a 975Mbit 802.11ac connection.

    • Christian Cawley
      February 2, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Oh I couldn't agree more :)

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