How to Chromecast to a TV From a Laptop or Desktop PC

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Chromecasts aren’t just useful for watching TV. They also let you easily cast content from your PC, including mirroring your computer’s screen.

We’re assuming you already have a Chromecast or compatible device set up, and you’re ready to jump right into using it. If you’re new to the Chromecast and reading this article because you’re considering purchasing one to mirror your PC’s screen or otherwise cast content, you may want to use the Tables of Contents to jump down to the sections “What Do I Need to Chromecast PC Content to a TV.”

A closeup photo of a laptop casting a web page to a nearby television.

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How to Chromecast Your Desktop

You can send not just browser tabs and video streams but your entire screen over to your Chromecast or compatible casting device. This experience emulates screen mirroring tools like Apple’s AirPlay and other screen mirroring tools based on wireless display protocols. The entire selected screen will be replicated on the remote TV.

Casting Your Desktop from Chrome or Edge

You can use either the Chrome or Edge web browsers to mirror your desktop as both are based on the Chromium browser engine. We’re including screenshots here for Chrome but the process is almost identical on Edge (so we’ll simply note the slight menu difference so you can locate the menu).

Open Chrome and click on the three-dot menu bar in the upper right corner next to the Profile icon. If you are using Edge, it is located in the same place, but the three dots are horizontal instead of vertical. In the drop-down menu, click the entry for “Cast…” If you are using Edge, the casting option isn’t in the first layer of the menu. You have to click on the menu button and then select “More tools” and then “Cast to media device.” At this point, the casting menus are the same for both browsers.

Once you have selected the casting menu, you will be presented with a list of available devices on your local network that support casting.

Do note, the device must be on to appear in the list as a valid casting destination. So if you have a TV with a built-in Chromecast and you don’t see it on the list, you will need to go power the television on before selecting it as a casting destination. The default casting behavior is to cast the tab. To cast your screen you must click on “Sources” at the bottom of the casting menu and switch from “Cast tab” to “Cast screen.”  Then select the device you wish to mirror your desktop to.

Whether you have a single monitor or a multi-monitor setup, you will be prompted before the casting process starts. For single-monitor setups, you will see a preview of your monitor, an option to toggle the audio on or off, and a “Share” button you must click to begin sharing.

Multi-monitor users see the same options, with the additional option to select which screen they wish to mirror to the remote display.

After clicking “Share” your screen will be cast to the destination device. At that point you can continue to use your computer if you are giving a demonstration or if you’re mirroring the screen to show a hands-off process,  you can park your mouse cursor in an out-of-the-way spot and let the process run.

You may also minimize the web browser to get it out of the way, it will continue to stream the cast in the background. When you are done casting, you can return to the browser and tap on the casting icon in the toolbar to pull up the list of casting destinations again. Simply select the current casting destination and click it to stop casting.

The process is the same on Edge, the icon just looks slightly different but is illuminated in blue during the casting process. You can restart the casting process at any time by repeating the process above.

When Should (And When Shouldn’t) You Cast Your Desktop?

Each style of casting content from your computer has positives and negatives. Let’s look at screen mirroring, or whole desktop casting, now to highlight when you should and shouldn’t use it.

Casting your entire desktop to another display is best used for the following purposes.

  • You want to show off your entire desktop to a group to give a demonstration that includes elements outside the browser pane.
  • You are casting to mirror your screen to display non-web-based content.
  • You want to watch a video that is only available on your PC using an application that does not support Chromecasting.

Casting your entire desktop should only be used when you have to mirror the entire desktop to achieve your goal, however. You should avoid mirroring your entire PC’s screen when:

  • You can cast the content, such as with Netflix or Youtube, directly instead of by mirroring your PC.
  • You can use an alternative remote solution, such as using SteamLink or GameStream to stream PC game content to your TV.

In short, mirroring your whole desktop to a Chromecast or Chromecast-enabled TV is useful when you must see the whole screen for a proper experience, but there are inherent issues with latency and lag when doing so. It’s great for giving a demonstration or displaying relatively static things like a photo slideshow from your laptop, but it’s not very good for gaming or other activities where low-latency is ideal.

How to Chromecast a Browser Tab

To mirror a single web browser table using your Chromecast, you follow the same steps as mirroring your desktop, albeit with fewer options to fuss with. It’s useful when you only want to display what is in a particular browser tab and remove the visual clutter of the rest of the screen.

Casting a Browser Tab from Chrome or Edge

  • Click on the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of your browser (it’s the same in both Chrome and Edge). If you’re using Chrome, just select “Cast…” If you’re using Edge, select “More tools” and then “Cast to media device.”
  • You will see all the available casting devices on your local network. Simply select the device you want to begin casting the current browser tab immediately to the device.
  • Unlike the desktop casting menu, you do not need to select the screen or even the tab as the default casting function is to send the current browser tab to the selected device. There is also no option to toggle the audio on or off, the audio for that tab (and that tab alone) will be passed onto the receiving device.
  • To stop casting, you click on the casting button in your browser toolbar and then click on the active device to terminate the stream.

As with casting your entire desktop, you can restart the process at any time by repeating the above steps.

When Should (And When Shouldn’t) You Cast Your Browser Tab?

Different casting methods give different results, so you might be curious when you should and shouldn’t rely on casting your browser tab over the other options. Here are some examples of when you would want to cast just your browser tab to your Chromecast-enabled device.

  • You are giving a demonstration and the only relevant information is within the web page you are looking at.
  • You are using your TV to monitor something displayed in a single browser pane such as an auto-refreshing website with sports scores or some other states you want to keep an eye on.
  • You want to watch video content on your TV that is from sources, such as a small website or file-sharing service, that don’t natively support casting but you can play them in your browser.

Here is when you should avoid using browser tab casting and select an alternative method like desktop mirroring via casting or direct casting.

  • You need access to elements outside the browser pane for demonstration purposes.
  • You want to monitor elements of your computer while watching content on your TV. For example, you may wish to use desktop screen mirroring instead of tab browser mirroring if you want OS-level toaster notifications to pop up where you can see them.
  • You are watching content from a service that natively supports casting.

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