Google currently makes two Chromecast dongles that turn your regular TV into a smart one: the Chromecast ($35) and the Chromecast Ultra ($69), the latter of which supports 4K HDR displays. You can also buy a Chromecast-enabled TV, which allows you to cast content to your TV without having to buy a separate device that takes up an HDMI slot.
If you watch TV with Chromecast, either with a dongle or with it baked into your TV, you’ll know that you can control the TV with your phone or tablet via the Google Home app. But a common frustration, albeit a small one, is that casting something requires your TV to already be turned on and switched to the correct HDMI input, which can be cumbersome with older models.
If you have a Google Home smart speaker, when you ask it to cast something to your Chromecast TV, it’ll turn the TV on and switch to the correct input in one fell swoop. But, with this hack, you can do it all yourself in one easy motion as well.
1Make sure HDMI-CEC is enabled. Turn your TV on and go into Settings. Look for the CEC menu (Consumer Electronics Control). This will tell the HDMI device to turn on the TV when it becomes active. Turn on CEC. If your TV doesn’t have this option, unfortunately, you won’t be able to use this quick hack.
2Confirm what powers your Chromecast. The Chromecast dongle doesn’t power itself, and only some TVs will give power to the USB port even when they’re off. The dongle has a light built into it; if the light is on when your TV is off, then you know your TV powers it. If the light is off, the TV doesn’t power it, which means you’ll need to keep the dongle plugged into the wall as well as the TV’s HDMI port. (The Chromecast dongle comes with an additional micro-USB cord and wall socket for this very purpose.) If you have a Chromecast TV, there’s no need to worry about this.
With your TV on, open a supported app on your smartphone or tablet, like Netflix or YouTube, and click the cast button. If you’re using a Chrome browser, you can click the three vertical dots in the top right of your browser, and then click “Cast.” The content should appear on your TV.
4 Cast Content to Your TV, Sans Remote. Do Step 3 again, just with your TV off this time. You should be able to click cast on your phone or tablet, and your TV should light up with whatever media you sent to it. From here on out you’ll be able cast video to your TV without touching your TV remote or having to change inputs. Rejoice!