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?

When the Google Chromecast was first unveiled more than six years ago, it offered an alternative way to access online content on televisions. 

Allowing a raft of content, including TV, films, games, photo galleries or presentations to be beamed right to your TV at a time when smart TVs were only just demonstrating their power, the idea of using a small USB peripheral to transform your regular TV into such a smart device was worthy of attention.

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Almost half a decade after its release, we now have the third generation of Chromecast, bringing faster and higher-quality streaming with support for 4K resolutions. The device is now capable of streaming content from almost any device, whether that's PC or Mac, Android or iPhone, all across the highly accessible network technology that is Wi-Fi. 

But what happens if your Wi-Fi is down, or if you're simply unable to gain access to a Wi-Fi network from where you are? Perhaps you want to share your content to a TV in a public place, or somewhere that doesn't have a public Internet connection, such as a hotel or in a remote location.

What you may not know is that unlike the Amazon Fire Stick, perhaps Chromecast's biggest competitor on the market, Google's device can beam content to a TV without ever having to connect to an internet connection.

Using Chromecast without Wi-Fi

The first thing you'll need to do is ensure your Chromecast is running the most up-to-date firmware. As we've mentioned, using your Chromecast without Wi-Fi will only work with the most recent software.

This is due to an update that added new functionality in the form of 'guest mode'. This new setting allows Chromecast users to open their device to guests, without the need for that guest to be connected to a Wi-Fi network.

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When an app that is capable of streaming to a Chromecast is launched on that guest's mobile device, the device is able to detect the presence of a Wi-Fi beacon on the Chromecast. This creates the same link you'd otherwise get across a network, letting a guest hit the 'Cast to Chromecast' icon on their video.

In order for this pairing to happen, the Chromecast first generates a random four-digit code. Whenever a nearby device attempts to dock with the Chromecast, it will emit this code as an audio signal, although this is inaudible to human ears.

This audio pairing, while quite nifty, doesn't always work. Luckily, guests can still connect using the 4-digit code that's displayed on the TV or monitor.

Mirror, mirror

You can also mirror the display of an Android device to a Chromecast streaming stick without using Wi-Fi. Sadly, no similar options for iOS devices are available at present.

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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.

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

If your Chromecast is connected to a TV that for some reason is 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, so this will be necessary 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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