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 Google manufactured its Chromecast in 2014, it was considered a revolutionary device capable of turning any compatible monitor or TV into a hub for streaming content. The plug-and-play dongle lets any user stream content from a host of platforms, without needing to shell out for new hardware of any kind.

Not only is it a smart way for porting additional sources of entertainment to a TV, but it's also useful in a business context to allow people to deliver presentations. A plethora of Android apps, including ShowCast, also allows the Chromecast to be used as a device for storing and loading PowerPoint presentations.

Chromecast now supports 4K resolution as well as high-speed streaming, and boasts compatibility with a wide range of devices including almost all tablets and laptops. Wi-Fi connections, however, have always been temperamental, especially if you’ve suffered from poor connection throughout your entire house.

This problem has become even more pronounced during COVID-19, with Uswitch finding that five million Brits sustained outages for three hours or longer during the pandemic, with the average household experiencing a day of downtime throughout this period.

You can purchase a basic Chromecast device for around £30 if you benefit from an always-on internet connection, but this isn’t always essential. You can still purchase and use a Chromecast if your connection is unreliable, or you need to use it without Wi-Fi for any reason.

Using Chromecast without Wi-Fi

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

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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