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Tip: Chromecast Can Cast Your Entire Desktop Screen Too, Not Just Tabs

chromecast desktop

During Google’s announcement of Chromecast earlier this week, they talked about the new HDMI dongle’s ability to cast full browser tabs, but would only give this feature a “beta” tag. We’ve already shown you how that works in our in-depth look, which we highly recommend you check out. What we wanted to make you aware of now, is theΒ other feature for Chromecast that Google is only willing to call “experiemental” at this time. We’re talking about full screen casting, or mirroring from your desktop.Β 

As you can see in the image above, my TV isn’t just showing a tab maxed out to full-screen, it’s showing my entire desktop. And since it’s showing my entire desktop, I can open up any app and have it show up on my TV. I could edit an image, root my phone through a command prompt, or even browse through the pictures stored on my Macbook in iPhoto. Sure, there is a slight delay, just like when sharing Chrome tabs, but the experience of sharing your entire desktop is already there.

To access this experimental entire screen casting, all you have to do is tap the Cast button in Chrome (assuming you installed the Chrome extension), tap the little down arrow box in the pop-up, and select “Cast entire screen (experiemental).” Once you have that option checked, you’ll then tell the Cast extension to cast to a Chromecast.

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 8.48.33 AMScreen Shot 2013-07-26 at 8.48.17 AM

I should point out that even with “Audio mode” checked, I was unable to receive audio through my TV or sound system speakers while sharing my entire screen. For example, I tried watching a movie in VLC, but the audio came through my computer, rather than the TV. Again, it’s experimental, so don’t expect it to work flawlessly and have every feature imaginable.

If anything, I think it shows the potential here in Chromecast beyond the streaming of media.

Cheers Tristan!

  • James Friedman

    Option only seems to be available in Windows however your showing you’ve got it working in OSX….wtf? Maybe it’s cause I’m streaming something right now on my MAC and the option isn’t availble….weird

  • Kev

    How do you cast entire screen? I do not have the button on my Mac

  • bobukcat

    I don’t have the option to cast my full screen in the dropdown, I wonder if that is because I’m on WinXP instead of 7 or a MAC.

  • Rahul Shah

    Thanks Tristan, for letting us know about sharing the entire desktop, Just because of this article I have made the purchase.

  • Mordecaidrake
  • Prasanna Rajan

    Thanks! I also tested it. Its very buggy. I hope the updates solve the issue and I could cast a video directly from my PC to TV.

    • Liderc

      I’m sure they’ll fix a majority of the minor bugs pretty quickly. This device is revolutionary considering its price. They’re already sold out damn near everywhere, which is impressive considering no one even knew it was coming.

  • Ranek520

    Audio mode is related to tab mirroring, not desktop mirroring (it should disable when desktop is selected). Furthermore, it must be enabled before you start casting to have an effect. It limits the video to 1 frame per second to reduce bandwidth and make sure the audio comes in smoothly on slow networks. It’s ideal for something like Pandora or Play Music on the desktop.

  • aholsteinson

    Nice that you can cast your desktop and are not limited to Chrome tabs. I wonder if support for casting locally stored movies and music will be added eventually.

  • A.Miller

    So Chromecast is essentially Googles answer to Apple TV?

  • Cody Dean

    Is it just me…. or is this not an option on Windows?

  • steveindajeep

    google you are just evil offering this at $35.

  • RobertNeal

    Is anyone able to play audio from Google Music when casting from a PC? It is only casting the video for me.

  • t0ast3r

    Kind of random but what TV is that?

  • spo8

    Just to check, does OSX have an equivalent of the “Sound” control panel window like Windows does? Because to fix the sound issue in Windows, the first thing I’d try would be to go to the sound card output window and change the output device to “HDMI Output.”

    Something to try out, at least.

  • Rbq

    Wait…. I thought this didn’t have the ability to do that, but this changes everything. How long til we see a Android widget that lets us port our whole phone’s display to the big screen?

  • bionic sux

    Pro Tip: Bionic sucks balls

  • Can’t wait to use this for video review with my athletes while we are on the road or at home. Plus streaming stuff at home. Gonna be epic! The Best Buy by my house here says they should get theirs in today.

  • Has anyone tried casting tabs with the Samsung Chromebook? It says only the Pixel is supported because it has to be a “fast computer”, but I was able to install the extension. I’m curious what the experience is like and if it’s completely unusable or what. Thanks!

    • MeCampbell30

      The most difficult part is the transcoding. It will probably work but it may be choppy.

  • Nayners

    Can anyone confirm on a Windows PC, that the ‘entire screen’ drop down exists? Bonus points for Win 8 PC. Thanks!

    • chihova

      Confirmed on both. Picked mine up at the local Best Buy this morning.

      • Nayners

        That’s fantastic news!

  • yup yup

    This finally got interesting. I love the mirroring feature with my apple tv/macbook pro but I won’t be buying another mac computer so now I have this as an option.

  • ddh819

    since you can connect to the CC directly to do setup, can you connect to it directly to cast local media or your desktop to it? it wouldn’t need internet access for that, right? i’m thinking of a situation where you take it on the road and there is no wifi network in the room

  • Ray

    Waiting for mine to arrive tonight. Expedited shipping from Best Buy…Can’t wait!

  • King Lo

    How long until someone jailbreaks this thing and makes it do something crazy?

    • Sunian

      not an apple device; was never locked in jail.

    • Sunian

      not an apple device; was never locked in jail.

  • Jarred Sutherland

    I wonder if this is OS based? On my Windows boxes I do not have this option… total bummer too! Just got my Chromecast though .. loving it!

    • Raj Bhatt

      It doesn’t show on my Win8 desktop either, but I’ll give it a shot on my hackintosh and let you know.

    • teleclimber

      You might have to go into chrome://flags and enable support for getUserMedia Look for this flag and enable it:

      “Enable screen capture support in getUserMedia(). Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS

      Allow web pages to request access to the screen contents via the getUserMedia() API.”

      Just guessing, I haven’t tried the extension.

      • Jarred Sutherland

        Tried this, was so hopeful after the re-launch but no go πŸ™

  • EvanTheGamer

    Question: Should you get the Google Chromecast if you already own an Xbox 360/PS3/Wii U, etc?

    I understand that Chromecast is obviously way more portable than the others, but is it still really worth getting though if you already own systems that can do what the Chromecast can do and a whole lot more?

    • Nate595

      Probably not, but video game consoles aren’t capable of doing all this desktop mirroring stuff so it depends on what you’re using it for.

      • EvanTheGamer

        Thanks man.

  • bionicwaffle

    Wow, for $35 it was cool and a great deal before. Google is dumping out awesome all over the place!

  • enigmaco

    I want one sooo bad lol, no more hdmi cables and can stream from a further distance.

  • Alexander Anteneh

    all i can focus on is how awesome this tv is

  • KenBarnum

    I can’t get the option for entire screen to show on mine. Macbook Pro Mtn Lion Latest Chrome with extension.

    • Irish Cream

      LOL! Hey Buddy!

      • Irish Cream

        this is Mike R…btw.

        • KenBarnum

          Was thinking that!

    • Kevin

      me either

  • Jackson Emch

    So does this mean I could stream games to my TV via the Chromecast?

    • bionicwaffle

      Don’t expect games to work as there could be graphics mode conflicts, network device conflicts, and as the article said it doesn’t pass audio with the desktop Cast at this point. Of course it would be cool to hear from someone who tried it.

    • Liderc

      You could, but PC games are usually very graphic intensive, so it’s going to lag most likely.

  • CasperTFG

    Did the post’s pic change? Maybe it’s Friday but, the angle was the other way.

  • Kevin

    that just made this device a lot better… will be cool to see how this evolves.

  • Cody

    My chromecast shipped today! Can’t wait for it to come in! Especially if this happens: http://www.theverge.com/2013/7/16/4529322/google-internet-tv-service-in-the-works-rumor

  • Ian

    Strange, I don’t get the (experimental) entire screen option when I click the down arrow.

    • bionicwaffle

      Are you on a PC? Maybe it only works on OS X for now…I believe Google is known to prefer Mac’s.

      • Ryuuie

        Google prefers Macs in their HQs because of a breach that came from Windows machines.

        For their actual features and software, it’s mostly Windows considering they can customize it how they want.

        • chihova

          Mine works like a charm.

      • Kevin

        i am using a mac and do not have the cast desktop option

    • Jarred Sutherland

      I and another user here do not see it either on Windows boxes .. stupid windows. Hackintosh is sounding better and better.

  • Michael Hildebrand

    Once this is fully operational, this will be nice for avoiding pesky websites, such as Hulu, that will probably try to block the chromecast extension for chrome. Well, sorry Hulu, but you probably won’t be able to block this whole screen-mirroring solution!

    • Steve B

      Why would they do this? Block more customers from using their service? No, they’re going to embrace this fully to gain as many customers as possible.

      • Ian

        If only that were their motive…

      • Michael Hildebrand

        I hope you’re right. That’s actually what I initially thought, but I’m worried they’re not gonna like something about it. I can’t remember exactly what I was thinking when it was announced, but I had a bad feeling.

  • Aaron

    I am wondering how this works with dual monitors… will it cast a single display or both? If this would cast only one of the two, this would be epic.

  • Keith

    I was just testing Hulu from the browser: If I watch Hulu full screen with ‘cast current tab’, it cuts some of the outer portions off. I’m thinking anything outside the browser’s visible view port is ignored. But the video plays smoothly with audio in sync.

    Now, if I use the experimental ‘cast entire screen’, I get audio just fine (toggled audio before selecting entire screen), and full screen video… *but*… the video is SUPER laggy. Like 1-frame-per-second laggy.

    • ddh819

      maybe the edges care cut off because the tv is zooming in a little? i notice that happens when i plug my computer into my tv via hdmi sometimes, but i can adjust the zoom setting on the tv.

  • Warwick

    Kellex, is there a lag between TV and computer?

    • thebigmann

      Yes. I’m getting ~1 second delay. Not sure how network-dependent this is.

      • Warwick

        Not to bad, Thanks for the info!

      • Michael Pahl

        im also getting voice sync issue using HBO GO

        • Skittlez

          wait, HBO Go is supported in the app?

          • Michael Pahl

            no. not yet. HBO GO from my desktop computer using Chrome.

          • Skittlez

            gotcha. still awesome!

          • Michael Pahl

            if it worked… it lagged like crysis on intel 4000 graphics.

          • Skittlez
          • Michael Pahl

            Thanks! I knew this was coming.. I mean HBO GO is going to become a paid streaming service before too long.

          • Liderc

            You can watch all the Sopranos episodes through chrome already for free fyi. Just click play, then cast to your tv, then click full screen, then alt tab to another tab and now you’ve got Sopranos on your big screen and browser on your monitor. : http://www.tvids.net/watch151/The-Sopranos/season-01-episode-01-The-Sopranos

  • Guest

    Just a heads up, this only mirrors the screen, not audio.

    • WAldenIV

      Just a heads up, Kellex clearly mentions that.

  • cand3rson

    I really don’t understand why this doesn’t work with the Miracast functionality that the Nexus 4 already has. Other than that, it seems awesome.

    • jscofi

      i wana know the same thing!

  • sk102704

    I can’t wait to try this in “3 to 4 weeks”!

    • Skittlez

      go to best buy and get it today

  • Luke Olson

    this $35 dongle is going to replace $3k presentation setups

    • sc0rch3d

      I’m hoping a scenario I can play out is to walk into a meeting room, plug this thing into a projector (maybe using my phone as the hotspot since my company has ultra secure wireless network) and start presenting immediately from my laptop.

      • Luke Olson

        Or your work buys them, installs them, and all you gotta do is hit a button

        • sc0rch3d

          someone has to blaze the trail

        • Character0

          A friends of mine works in an office that is all Apple. They have big screen TVs in their conference rooms with an Apple TV connected. Anyone can then show their screen during a meeting. Looks like Google might have a winner here. They should push this use.

          • Luke Olson

            its a hell of alot cheaper, and more compatible with devices

          • Character0

            It sure is. I wasn’t making a point about Apple doing it better or anything. But it is a use that is in use but isn’t highlighted by Apple or Google for this kind of product. I would love to be able to be in a meeting and take over the screen with the push of a button.

          • Luke Olson
          • Character0

            HTC needs to get RDJ to recreate that scene with the One and a Chromecast.

          • Mark Coppock

            So what does that office do when they have outside people come in to present, who are using Windows, Android, etc.? Even more evidence that Google’s cross-platform strategy is genius.

          • Character0

            Not sure. I think they still have a VGA connection or a conference room computer to connect to. Google may be doing it better, but the idea of having them at conference room displays is pretty cool. I wish it was through a direct wifi connection form PC to Dongle, because sometimes companies have locked down wifi.

    • AnotherAndroidKid

      This is how I plan to use it. Being a travel agent, we’re often doing presentations that require youtube and other videos mixed in.

      This means I can walk into someone’s office or house and be on my way with ease

      • Luke Olson

        the perfect companion to a mifi

      • Jon

        Just make sure you bring a mini Wifi router with you if the place doesn’t have Wifi already.

        • Stein-Erik Dahle

          No need, just activate the Wi-Fi hotspot on your device!

  • Best Buy sold out

    • MeCampbell30

      Amazing how you can tell what’s in stock in stores all over the nation. You must be god.

  • Gary E.S. Benjamin

    Curious question ? Whats the extension with the zip archive icon in your chrome bar ?

  • Luke Olson

    Local files!

    • Justin W

      And games on the big screen (for others to watch, of course).

    • thebigmann

      Just tried with a local video. Video playback is decent (a little delay), but the problem is audio is not sent along with the cast. Hopefully this is added in later.

      • joseph barrientos

        that was going to be my concern, if the audio streams quicker than the video. maybe it just depends on your router?

        • thebigmann

          Well right now, as Kellen said, no audio is being cast at all, so it is hard to say how it will sync.

          • joseph barrientos

            do you know if for tab-casted videos how well it works? im going to buy this regardless but just curious

      • ahhh yes

        just like the slimport no audio…stupid. I just turn on BT and play through stereo. I just dont understand why these types of things dont handle audio and video

      • chihova

        My audio worked with no issue. I noticed the slight delay while playing a local x264 movie file but audio came through with no issue.

    • jdhas



    • Robert Goulet

      It works, even before using the inside the browser workaround. I’ve gotten both audio and video to work. Problem is that unless your source computer is hard wired to your router, you’re going to be hard pressed to have enough wifi bandwidth to stream HD video. SD is fine, but HD skips and buffers like crazy. I’m hoping this is a limitation of the basic Chromecast mirroring using more bandwidth than it needs and that developers will come up with dedicated solutions for local files, but those have been my findings thus far.

      • Liderc

        Mind me asking how you did this without using the chrome tab? I torrent a lot of movies and would like to send over movies from my main desktop to the big screen. I’m hardwired to the router, so I shouldn’t have the bandwidth problem. My chrome extension doesn’t have the “cast entire screen” button oddly enough.

  • Bigsike

    I wonder if this will work on the Pioneer appradio 2 hmmm.

  • ETPhoneHomeT

    Is it possible to mirror chrome browser from a smartphone or tablet? Or is that only possible from a PC or laptop?

    • So far, just from PC.

      • chaoslimits

        Is there still significant lag? And if there is, do you think it’s something that could eventually be worked out?

        • Justin W

          I believe its like a 300-400ms lag time, but it should get better as Google updates it. With this being experimental, I can see it getting significantly better over the course of the next year or so as they move it into a “beta” stage.

      • Bionic_Pags

        I’m hoping (sure) one of our community’s crafty developers will create an app that will allow us to mirror our entire phone/tablet very soon…

    • Justin W

      It uses an extension from the Chrome Web Store, so currently only the desktop πŸ™

  • moelsen8

    this thing is going to be incredible

  • Capt. Crunch

    Kellex really loves his pink πŸ™‚

  • Dan

    I just got a Samsung smart TV, i don’t need any of this.

    • Dan

      Although I did buy one because I got excited, when I got it home i realized my TV already did all of this.. But cool for somebody without a smart TV

      • Your home tv allows you to screencast your desktop?

      • Liderc

        You’re forgetting that you can take this everywhere with you, screencast your desktop/phone/tablet/laptop. There’s quite a lot of stuff that this does that a smart TV doesn’t too. Plus, it doesn’t cost 6k either. Just turned my 2 year old 60” 1080P samsung non-smart tv, into a smart tv with 35 dollars. I’d say it’s pretty amazing.

    • Guest


    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      I think you’re missing part of the point here. Chromecast takes up its own HDMI slot so you can always have it running.

      While watching normal TV you can essentially have Netflix running in the back ground for example. WITH those Smart TV apps you’re either in or out. I have a Smart TV too and those apps aren’t exactly user friendly especially with that silly touch remote Sammy gave me.

      • Aaron

        Using a separate input allows use of PIP as well

    • Bionic_Pags

      That’s really awesome man! Tell us what else you don’t need!

      • EvanTheGamer


      • Liderc

        What’s funny is he spent about 5-6k on something we just got for 35 bucks lol. And we can move our’s to our new TV’s and other hardware as we upgrade through the years.

  • dett

    Look, Chromecast is AWESOME, and will definitely get one when they are back in stock, but we are reaching saturation point news/article-wise. I’m becoming overexposed, not hating though.

    • thebigmann

      Kinda sounds like hating.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      Overexposed are you?

    • DrewNusser

      Helpful hint: If you don’t want to read the article, don’t click the link.

    • jdhas

      The Hate is strong with this one.

    • Irish Cream

      Are you mad bro?

  • Franklin7777

    PROTIP: Bestbuy.com has them in stock for delivery right now, and seems to still be offering the Netflix deal…

    • Franklin7777

      I just ordered one, estimated delivery (w/ free shipping) is next week.

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        Cancel and walk to the store. They’re on shelves or just do store pick up

    • monkey082506

      Just bought one they had sitting on the shelf an hour ago!

    • moelsen8

      i saw that 10 minutes ago and canceled my amazon and ordered it

    • Franklin7777

      Annnnd… now they’re sold out. That was fast, I think I just got really lucky! I should also have another one sitting for me for in-store pickup at one of my local Best Buys.

    • Me

      Not anymore.

    • Zach Davis

      I went into the store and bought one an hour ago, and the Netflix deal still worked for me πŸ˜€

  • MichaelFranz

    Sold….gonna buy one after vacation

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Hmmmmm will try when I get home

  • “Damnnnn, Gina.” – Martin

    I wish i got one of the first batch to get me some of dat Netflix.

    • InvaderDJ

      This is exactly what I needed for the Chromecast to make sense for me. If Google can get desktop mirroring and/or streaming local files to the Chromecast it will be perfect for the huge collection of media I have.

      I wonder what is causing the lag in this version. It could just be beta weirdness but if I understand how the Chromecast works correctly it basically doesn’t use your internal network at all right? You’re basically going out to the Internet and then the Internet is coming into your Chromecast meaning that your Internet connection is always going to be a bottleneck. Unless of course you have a crazy Google Fiber connection.

      • EvanTheGamer

        I wish the Google Chromecast had game mirroring. What you play on your Android-powered device is what would show up on your HDTV.

        I’m still considering getting one though, IF I can find a retailer that hasn’t sold out of ’em yet.

      • mattj78

        Apparently the lag is caused by the webrtc tech its using to mirror, its been said this will get better in chrome 30

      • edmicman

        So for local mirroring like in desktop Chrome it doesn’t just go through your internal wifi? Why introduce the lag of going out and back in if you could just go directly over the internal network?

        • Jaredsutter

          My understanding is that this is what is happening. Chrome is rendering it on the fly in your computer and sending the feed directly to Chromecast through your router – no internet connection necessary. Bottlenecks could be caused by your network setup, connection quality to computer or Chromecast, or your computer hardware, but not your internet speed. I think I read that on The Verge, but I’m not certain.

          • Mark Coppock

            I’m wondering if maybe supported Android apps (Netflix, Youtube, Google Play stuff) streams from Google/third-party servers, while things coming from the Chrome browser stream locally. Certainly, that’s how I hope it works–my upload speed would be a real bottleneck. Not to mention that stuff would come down from, say, Hulu, to my PC/Mac, then up to Google, then back down to Chromecast. Yuck. I do think it works this way, because Google said in response to concerns from HBO and others that really this is just like hooking up an HDMI cable from a PC/Mac to a TV. If it went through Google, then their argument would be false.

    • Nex__

      Literally bought mine from bestbuy about 2 hours ago, and got the netflix discount. I literally checked online to see who had some instock. They said they getting more over next two days. F.Y.I. bestbuy in New York 44th and 5th Ave

      • Whoa cool. I’m in the city. i’ll check it out.

      • Roger K.


        • Jarred Sutherland


          • jdhas


          • Irish Cream

            I literally just read literally 10 times.

          • It was literally exactly half of that…unless you read through all 4 posts above your twice.

          • Pengwn

            I literally did, just to see if he literally used literally that many times.

          • Literately?

          • cizzlen


          • Will GodZson


    • ahhh yes

      seriously? its only $7.99 month. i know your saving $24 but come on…just dont buy that small ass bag of weed this weekend and your fine

      • BigDeeNY99

        those are fighting words to some! Dont buy what?

      • sirmeili

        Unless you have the 4 streams version, then it’s $36. Or if you have a plan with discs, it’s even more. When you apply the coupon it merely says “100% for 3 months” so it covers whatever plan you are currently on.

      • Pengwn

        Small bag? I don’t know the meaning of the word! Half oz or up my friend!