Google decided that the Chromecast needed its own unique flavor of Android TV to properly compete with the best streaming sticks on the market, which means quite a big shift in how you use the device. We — like many of you out there reading — have been using Chromecast with Google TV for a few months and have some tips and tricks that we think you really need to know.
The OG Chromecast, Chromecast 2018, and Chromecast Ultra are pretty simple and easy to use but without a “real” interface to speak of, all three just act as a conduit for your smartphone-to-TV connection. If you just want simplicity, this is awesome. Understandably some people want a “proper” interface with apps and traditional remote.
With Google TV, you’re getting a brand-new UI that comes with some familiar elements but the same benefits as a regular old Chromecast. Plus you get a nice little remote if you don’t want to use your smartphone. The added benefits of the new model mean that it can be an even more integral component in your home entertainment system — especially as it comes with a dedicated remote. Here are 10 of our favorite tips and tricks for new and existing Chromecast with Google TV owners.
- Video — Chromecast with Google TV essential tips and tricks
- Edit your Watchlist
- Remap controller buttons
- Silence audio feedback
- Quick menu
- Remove recommendations for services you don’t have
- Add more devices and storage space
- Multi-room audio groups
- Apps-Only Mode
- Bluetooth audio
- Customize Ambient Mode
- What are some of your tips for Chromecast with Google TV owners?
Video — Chromecast with Google TV essential tips and tricks
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Edit your Watchlist
The watchlist is a major feature of the Chromecast with Google TV, and one of our biggest tips is to add content within the Google TV or Play Movies & TV app to get better recommendations from all of your favorite streaming services. This works in conjunction with the Google TV “Watchlist” tab and bookmark option, too.
Because the home screen is dynamic, by adding more programs and movies to your watchlist, you’re tailoring the experience to better surface new content for you to enjoy. It’s pretty darn good too, even if you have a niche area of interest or genre you love to watch.
Open the Google TV/Play Movies & TV app > Watchlist > Search for TV show/movie > Tap “Watchlist..
That’s not all though, as you can even add TV shows and movies to your Watchlist from a browser. When signed in to your account on Chrome (or another browser), just search for a movie, and in the right-hand sidebar you can toggle the “Watchlist” option. Searching for “my Watchlist” will also pull up all of the content you’ve bookmarked for later on — which is pretty neat.
Remap controller buttons
On the included remote, there are dedicated YouTube and Netflix buttons. These are great if you use both services quite extensively but not everyone out there will. Because this can be the case, another tip we think you might love is the ability to remap the controller buttons on the Chromecast with Google TV remote.
There are some limitations to this, but let’s talk about what you can do. You can remap the YouTube button to a limited number of applications supported including YouTube, YouTube TV, YouTube Kids, and YouTube Music. Pressing and holding the YouTube button will bring up a pop-up menu and allows you to make the adjustments.
However, if you download “Button Mapper” from the Play Store, you can actually change all of the buttons on your remote. This does require a $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock all of the features, but it is worth the asking price if you use your Chromecast with Google TV each and every day. You’re not even limited to just launching specific applications, as you can even run shortcuts, take a screenshot, plus much more.
Silence audio feedback
Some people don’t like to hear system sounds when navigating the menus and making selections, which is understandable. This is a fairly simple tip for knowledgeable Chromecast with Google TV owners but not everyone is a tech nerd.
To turn off audio feedback just head to Settings > Display and sounds > Toggle “System sounds.” This will silence any UI interactions you have when using the remote to navigate the Google TV interface.
There is a semi-hidden quick access menu and notification shade in Google TV that can save you scrolling through the main UI to get to important Settings pages. Usually, you have to scroll right up from the menu or even exit an app, but just pressing and holding the “Home” button on the controller will open up a side-menu where you can quickly access the Settings and even get an update of the time/weather.
Remove recommendations for services you don’t have
During the intial setup process, you may have skipped through a pop-up that asked just what streaming services you use daily and want access to on your Chromecast with Google TV. At that point, you may not have realized that any services you selected will effectively determine just what services, movies, and shows that recommended content will show on the main Google TV home screen.
Luckily, as this is an Android TV-based UI, you can make tweaks to improve or remove certain recommendations. To do so, just head to Settings > Accounts & Sign In > [Your Account] > Your services > then check or uncheck any apps you have installed to add/remove recommendations.
Add more devices and storage space
We can’t defend the pretty paltry 4GB of storage on the Chromecast with Google TV, so a massive tip we suggest is to add a USB-C hub to expand the internal storage and make it easier to add extra peripherals.
There are literally hundreds of USB-C hubs that you can choose from, but for around $25 you can get a fairly small hub that includes micro SD, SD, USB-A, USB-C, and even HDMI slots to give you a ton of options to expand the powers of the Chromecast with Google TV.
Multi-room audio groups
If you have multiple devices linked to your Google Home account, did you know that you can add the Chromecast with Google TV to a speaker group? This means that you can use your TV as an extra speaker with an existing group.
To set this neat feature up, open the Google Home app on your smartphone > Chromecast > Settings > Group > from here you will be able create a new speaker group or add your Chromecast to an existing group of speakers and TVs.
If you have children or someone non-tech-savvy using the Chromecast with Google TV, a prime tip is to use the “Apps only” mode. This just removes all of the recommendation sections, which is ideal for ensuring that potentially inappropriate content is not promoted front-and-center and tempting a click.
You can turn on this mode by heading to Settings > Account > [Your Account] > Apps-Only Mode.
This mode strips back the experience quite extensively, with the Google Assistant notably not working when active — which might make it a dealbreaker for some people.
One tip that we think you simply need to know is that the Chromecast with Google TV can sync or pair with a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. This is brilliant if you don’t want to bother a friend or family member when watching loud, obnoxious TV shows and movies.
It’s as simple as heading to Settings > Remote and accessories > select the headphones/Bluetooth speaker you want to sync > Connect. If you were looking at picking up a soundbar or external audio, you can just use what you already have and improve the listening experience even in streaming apps like YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, and more.
Customize Ambient Mode
When not in use, you can set your Chromecast to showcase things like popular artworks, Google Maps images, plus some of your favorite Google Photos collections/albums. There’s more that you can tailor or personalize too including the local weather conditions and date/time.
So when your Chromecast is idling, Ambient Mode will turn your TV into what amounts to a large Nest Hub or Smart Display. It’s not game-changing, but it does help reduce the risk of screen burn-in. To enable or make changes and tweaks to Ambient Mode, head to Settings > System > Ambient Mode.
What are some of your tips for Chromecast with Google TV owners?
Have some tips and tricks of your own that you think we should know? Let us know down in the comments section below and who knows, we might feature them in a future rundown.
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