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

It might be difficult to imagine nowadays, but the Google Chromecast was considered a revolutionary piece of technology when it first launched in early 2014. Although only seven years ago, this was around the time when streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime were only beginning to gain traction, despite being available for some time already.

The Chromecast, a small device visually resembling a cross between a HDMI cable and a USB drive, provided users with the option to stream online content on their own screens and monitors, making them independent from the clutches of traditional TV channel schedules.

However, it wasn’t only a source of high-quality entertainment: the Chromecast was, and still is, the perfect business companion. With the help of free Android apps such as ShowCast, it can also double as a technologically-advanced USB stick, ideal for storing and delivering PowerPoint presentations for work projects.

In September of last year, Google launched the latest iteration of the Chromecast, which organises movies and TV shows from your favourite services, including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, or Netflix, into a single screen, thus eliminating the need to switch between different apps. The release was met with positive reviews, with users hailing the impressive 4K resolution and super-fast streaming. Moreover, it was also made compatible with almost any device, from Macs to tablets, across Wi-Fi networks.

However, Wi-Fi connections can be rather tempestuous at times, with the tendency becoming increasingly common since the start of the pandemic. In fact, between August 2019 and 2020, almost five million Brits suffered from broadband outages of three or more hours over the past 12 months, with the average home experiencing more than a day's worth of downtime in total.

The question remains: since you cannot always rely on your Wi-Fi to get you through the day without any hiccups, can you expect your Chromecast to work without a network connection?

Using Chromecast without Wi-Fi

Before using the Chromecast, you must ensure that it's running the latest version of its firmware, as all attempts to configure the device to work without a Wi-Fi connection will fall flat. 

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 to 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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