There are few gadget categories hotter than the streaming set top box. It seems there’s an endless number of options available for anyone looking to stream their favorite television shows, movies, music, and more to their television and home theater setup. Roku, Google, Amazon, and Apple TV have all contributed to the market with more than a dozen options for streaming between the companies, flooding living rooms everywhere with options to watch Netflix or Hulu in the comfort of their own homes. Everyone has their own favorite ecosystem and interface, but for our money, you simply can’t beat Google’s Chromecast platform, thanks to its affordable price for both 1080p and 4K content ($35 and $69, respectively), and the simplicity of streaming content straight from your phone, tablet, or computer. The Chromecast has seen several iterations since it first launched in 2013, from new 2nd generation models to devices that focus solely on audio. One thing’s for sure: it’s hard to go wrong with Chromecast, whether you’re looking to listen to your favorite album, stream a film on Netflix, or catch up on your favorite television shows.
Of course, Chromecast’s simple interface also means it can occasionally be difficult to troubleshoot if you’re having difficulties with a certain feature. It doesn’t come with a step by step trouble shooting guide, and it doesn’t have its own screen to alter settings from. If your Chromecast refuses to connect to the internet, or you’re unable to stream content to your device using your mobile device, it can be a real pain to try to solve an issue without any sort of settings menu or troubleshooting guide. Though there are plenty of traditional ways to solve these problems, from restarting the device to checking your network compatibility, sometimes your device needs to be properly reset to its factory settings in order to flush out any problems or bugs you’re running into at any give time. Despite the lack of visual interface with your Chromecast device, it’s easy to factory reset any of the Chromecast lineup quickly and easily. Let’s take a look at each possibility.
Using the Google Home App
The Google Home app (previously known as Google Cast) is a brilliant, must-have utility for any Chromecast or Google Home owner. It allows you to adjust the settings on your device properly, change what’s streaming at any given time, pause or resume playback at will, discover tools and new ways to control your device, and even browse new content that might be of interest to you. It all works surprisingly well, but the Google Home app also serves a second purpose. Since your Chromecast’s visual interface is basically limited to a wallpaper backdrop with nothing else to show, the Google Home app on both iOS and Android (pictured) is a must-have for changing how your device works. It’s also the easiest and fastest way to reset your device right from the mobile app. Let’s take a look.
You’ve probably used the Google Home app at some point to setup your Chromecast, even if you don’t use it on a regular basis. With a minimal, material design-styled interface and a focus on using cards to show information the basic design of the app is pretty easy to browse through. There are some minor differences in design between the iOS and Android versions of the app, but for the most part, you’ll be able to follow these exact instructions on the platform of your choice.
To head into your Chromecast settings you’ll need to tap on the menu icon in the top-left corner. Inside the sliding menu to the left of the app, tap on Devices. You’ll be able to see a list of every device on your network connected via the Google Home app. Find your Chromecast based on the name you gave the device during setup and tap on the triple-dotted icon in the top right corner of the card. From this display, tap on the Settings option.
There’s a whole list of options you can use to adjust your device, but thankfully, we won’t need to scroll through them at all. At the top of the list you’ll see another menu button in the upper-right corner of your display. Tapping on this icon will display four hidden options for your Chromecast or Chromecast Audio: Help and Feedback, Reboot, Factory Reset, and Open Source Licenses. If you were trying to fix a problem with your Chromecast, it’s worth attempting to restart your device before you completely wipe it. However, if you have already tried to restart your device, or you’re looking to sell your Chromecast and need to restore it to its factory default settings, tap on the Factory Reset option. You’ll receive a prompt on your device asking if you’re sure you wish to reset your Chromecast. To continue with the process, select Yes. Your Chromecast device will begin to reset itself to factory default settings, and you can either set up the device as new or power it down to sell it without including your personal data.
Using Your Computer and Chrome
Though Google offers its Google Home application on both iOS, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it anywhere on your PC or Mac. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change your streaming settings from your computer. If you mostly use Chromecast as a way to control your television from your laptop or Chromebook, and you don’t have a phone or tablet to install the Google Home application on, you can still use the desktop version of Chrome on your PC and your local Chromecast network to factory reset your device. Here’s how to do it.
Google’s forums seem to point users to the Google Home application for all support issues with Chromecast, but there’s a hidden menu inside of Chrome that makes it easy to take advantage of your Chromecast device. You won’t have the same breadth of options as you do through the Google Home app on your phone, but you can use this hidden network to factory reset your Chromecast. You’ll need to be using Chrome as your browser for this to work; using Firefox or Edge will fail to open the hidden Chrome menu. If you’ve ever had to adjust your router settings and have typed in a local IP address to configure your device, you’ll be familiar with the instructions listed below.
Start by copying and pasting (or typing) the following URL into a new tab in Chrome:
This URL tells your device to go into the Chrome menu of your browser (instead of the internet, which is typically designated by “http://”), and to enter the Cast menu. The tab display will show “Google Cast,” and you’ll be able to view your Cast devices on your network, along with anything currently playing at the moment. In the corner of the Chromecast option, you’ll see a small Settings icon. Click or tap on it to load the settings for your device.
Here, you’ll be able to see a fairly-rudimentary menu for your Chromecast device. This menu allows us to change most of the settings you can access directly on the Google Home app, but straight from your PC. You can view the name of your device, the wireless network your device is running on, your time zone and language settings, MAC and IP addresses, firmware versions, and finally, several options that allow you to command the Chromecast device over your network. In the lower-left hand corner of your display, you’ll see options to Reboot, Factory Reset, Show Open Source Licenses, and Show Other Licenses. Click or tap on the Factory Reset option, then accept the prompt to confirm your selection (if one appears). Your device will begin to factory reset, signing you out of your Google account synced with the device and forgetting your preferences and saved networks.
When the factory reset process is over, you can continue through your settings to set up as a new device on your network, or you can unplug the device from its power source to sell or disable. Don’t unplug the device from its power source until the factory reset is complete.
Factory Resetting Your Device Without a Network
Both of the above solutions are great if your device is able to connect to your network in order to receive the command to reset itself. But unfortunately, if the problem with your device spawned from an inability to connect to the internet, you’ll need to find a different way to factory reset your device without using the network. Thankfully, as with most electronic devices that lack visual interfaces, there is a hardware method to reset your device without having to be on the internet at all.
Head behind your television or your stereo speakers—wherever you keep your device plugged in. You’ll need to make sure the Chromecast is receiving power; unfortunately, there’s simply no way to reset the device unless it’s powered and turned on. Unplug the device from your television or your stereo speakers (if necessary) and hold the device in your hand, but ensure that the light is still on and that your device is still receiving power. Look for a small button on the device. All four models of the Chromecast have one, from the first-gen Chromecast to the second-gen Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra, and even on the Chromecast Audio. Once you find the button, press and hold it on your Chromecast model.
On first-gen Chromecast devices (identifiably by the stick model with “Chrome” written in text on the device), you’ll need to hold the power button down for a full 25 seconds. The white LED on your device will switch from its typical solid display to a blinking white light. If you left the device plugged into your television, you’ll see your display go blank. The reboot sequence will begin, and you’ll have a fresh, fully-restored Chromecast to setup and play with.
On second-gen Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra devices, the method is similar but not exact. You’ll need to hold the power button down on these devices as well, but instead of holding the button for a full 25 seconds, you’ll simply have to wait for the LED to turn orange and start blinking. Keep holding the power button until the light turns white again. Once that happens, you can let go of the button, and your Chromecast will begin the reboot sequence. This same method applies to the Chromecast Audio, which features a similar design to the basic second-gen Chromecast.
To some, the lack of an actual interface on your Chromecast device may seem like a missing feature, or a drawback to using the device day to day. But thanks to the utility of your smartphone or tablet and your PC, it’s easy to control all your settings and preferences right from the device in your hand, negating the need for a physical remote. Most of the time, this acts as an awesome feature, as your phone automatically connects to your Chromecast device without the need for any kind of additional effort on the user’s part. Of course, it becomes a problem when your device begins to fail to properly playback content from your phone, or when your Chromecast can no longer connect to the internet.
Thankfully, with three major ways to factory reset your device—including the ability to reset the device using a physical button as opposed to controlling it over the network—you’re never out of luck when it comes to fixing potential problems with the device. For most recurring issues that spawn from your Chromecast device, a quick reset should solve any issues with streaming and casting content. If you’re still having problems with your device after a full reset, you may want to contact Google for additional support or a replacement device.