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How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

Google’s streaming stick is a great travelling companion, but how can you use Chromecast without Wi-Fi?

A Google Chromecast device hanging from a USB port on a TV

When the Chromecast was launched by Google in 2014, it was seen as a revolutionary piece of equipment that could convert any compatible TV or monitor into a centre for content streaming. Through the plug-and-play dongle, any user could stream content from a number of platforms, without the need to buy new hardware.

The device isn’t only an intelligent way to port additional sources of entertainment to a TV but also can be used in a business setting to help employees deliver presentations. There’s a variety of Android apps, like the ShowCast, that allows the Chromecast to be transformed into a tool for storing and loading PowerPoint presentations.

Chromecast is compatible with a number of devices, including almost all tablets and laptops, and supports 4K resolution as well as high-speed streaming. Wi-Fi connections have always been temperamental, however, especially if you suffer from a bad connection throughout your house or business.

This problem was emphasised even more during the pandemic. Uswitch found that five million Brits experienced internet outages for three hours or longer during the pandemic, with a day of downtime throughout the period being the time an average household suffered.

Although it isn’t always essential, you can purchase a basic Chromecast device for around £30, if you benefit from an always-on internet connection. If you have an unreliable connection, you can still use and buy a Chromecast, or if, for any reason, you need to utilise it without Wi-Fi.

Using Chromecast without Wi-Fi

You’ll have to make sure your device is running the latest version of its firmware before you start using it. However, it’s impossible to configure the device to work without a Wi-Fi connection without updating it to the latest firmware version first.

You could very quickly check whether you're able to make this work by accessing 'Guest Mode', which was added several years later following the Chromecast's initial launch. This allows the device to open up to guest access without that user needing to first establish a connection to your Wi-Fi network. 

This works by utilising a Wi-Fi beacon built into the Chromecast. Once an app that’s capable of streaming is opened on the guest’s device, it will search for the beacon in order to create a bridge. Once connected, they should be able to ‘Cast to Chromecast’ just as you would normally do across a network.

For this pairing to work, the Chromecast device will generate a random four-digit code that’s then emitted as an audio signal to nearby devices, although human ears won’t be able to pick this up. While quite nifty, this type of pairing is notoriously temperamental and won’t always work, so you might find you will need to pair using the code displayed on the TV or monitor.

Mirror an Android device using Chromecast

Three screenshots taken from navigating the Google Home app

You can also mirror the display of an Android device to a Chromecast streaming stick without using Wi-Fi.

To mirror an Android device, open the Chromecast app on it (the Chromecast app is now known as Google Home), tap on the burger menu in the top left corner (this looks like three lines together), tap on Cast Screen/Audio, and then choose your Chromecast device.

Screen mirroring works differently from wireless display (which has been part of Android since Jelly Bean 4.2, as the resultant output is less laggy and choppy than wireless display). Screen mirroring with Chromecast does, however, require Android KitKat 4.4.2 or later.

Using Chromecast without Wi-Fi (cheating using wired connections instead)

If your Chromecast is connected to a TV that is for whatever reason sat in a Wi-Fi blackspot, then you can (if you have a long enough Ethernet cable or powerline) connect the Chromecast directly to an Ethernet port of your router via an Ethernet adaptor for Chromecast.

This wired connection will create a fast and reliable link for the Chromecast device. All the user needs to do is to connect the included USB cable from the Ethernet adapter to the Chromecast, and then run an Ethernet cable from the router to the Ethernet adapter. The adapter itself will need to be plugged into an electrical socket as well. Once all this is done, the Chromecast device will automatically be set up to use an Ethernet connection instead of a Wi-Fi network.

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