At $35, the Google Chromecast device is very cool, but does it work with MacBooks, iMacs or other Mac OS X systems?
I’ve heard the same rumors you have, that Chromecast is for Windows PCs and Android devices and if you’re an Apple fan or user, you’re going to be out of luck. That turns out to be completely inaccurate and the Chromecast device turns out to be quite compatible with both Mac OS X systems (with some caveats) and iOS devices like the iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone.
Except for that caveat, because it’s an important one: On the Mac, Chromecast only pairs with the Google Chrome Web browser, so if you prefer Safari, Firefox or another Web browser, you’ll need to switch for any content that you’d like to beam to your TV. Some content, notably Netflix, actually works great within Chrome because, as you’ll see, it’s Chromecast aware unto itself. Very slick.
But let’s start at the beginning. Pick up a Chromecast if you don’t already have one. They’re for sale at the Google Store or your local Walmart. $35. Hard to go wrong!
Now plug it in and if you’ve a very modern TV, it’ll be able to gain power from the HDMI connection, which is optimal. If not, plug in the power adapter so it starts up. Switch your TV input so you’re connected and it’ll look like this on your TV:
Now you’ll want to go to the following URL within the Chrome browser on your Mac:
Download the setup application and launch it, and it’ll immediately start looking for the device:
Rather to my surprise, it found it without any effort on my part.
If you guessed “click on Continue to continue”, well, you’re right!
Click on “Continue” to… well, you know.
Meanwhile, on the TV:
The good news is that the codes match. That makes things easy!
Again, a click on “Continue” on the computer and you’re ready to teach the device what wifi network you use:
Enter your wifi credentials for the same wifi network that you use for your computer, tweak the name if you’re so inclined (I just call mine “Chromecast”) and click on… you can do it… “Continue”!
The system does indeed update, and when it’s done yet another “Continue” and we’re done!
That’s it. Surprisingly easy.
Now let’s jump into Chrome itself and set that up. As the window shows, you need to get the “Cast” extension for Google Chrome and install it. That’s done by going into the Google Play store and searching for “Cast” (or perhaps the above button will work for you. For me it didn’t work).
Install the Cast extension and it’ll confirm the installation:
Notice the small icon on the top right of the window too. That’s your “Cast” icon that lets you pick any tab in Chrome and beam it to your Chromecast device. Easy enough.
Where this gets more cool is if we pop into Netflix, since its player is Chromecast aware.
I’ll demonstrate by starting up an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the Chrome browser, it looks like this:
Notice that the Cast icon shows up on the right side of the Netflix player itself. A click and it shows all the known Chromecast devices, as you can see.
I’ll choose “Chromecast” off that menu, as you’ll recall it’s the name I gave my device and the Web browser window changes to:
Meanwhile, the really cool stuff is showing up on the TV itself, where the movie is streaming flawlessly:
Yes, and I watched the entire movie without a hiccup while writing this post too, also in Google Chrome.
The only comment I’d make is that I found that trying to use other tabs in the same Chrome window as the streaming Netflix movie failed to work properly, but when I launched a new window, it worked perfectly.
So, for $35, Chromecast turns out to be a terrific device to toss in your travel bag, particularly if you have a Netflix, HBO Go or Hulu Plus account too (here’s a full list of compatible sites). If you don’t, then you’ll need to find other interesting content that you can view and enjoy within a Chrome window to get the most out of the device.