How to Fix It When Chromecast Isn't Working

Troubleshooting solutions that get you back to streaming

Chromecast device on a coffee table

The Google Chromecast is arguably one of the more useful inventions of the past several years. The ability to wireless stream music, images, and video to the television (and control it via smart home devices) is nothing short of miraculous, but it's not without issues. Sometimes your Chromecast will stop working for seemingly no reason. Here's how to troubleshoot the device and find out exactly the cause of the problem. 

How to Factory Reset Your Chromecast

Before you do anything else, factory reset the Chromecast and see if that corrects the problem. 

  1. Find the button on the side of the Chromecast and press it down.

    Side button on a Chromecast device
  2. Hold the button for at least 25 seconds.

  3. After the television screen goes blank, let go. The Chromecast will clear its memory and restart.

  4. At this point, you will need to go through the setup process with the Chromecast once more. However, this can often fix a lot of issues that arise.

Resetting the Chromecast changes the device's identification number, but this does not affect your devices. It simply allows you to perform the setup process again.

If you're using Chromecast via a smart TV, you might need to power cycle the TV itself. Press and hold the power button down for thirty seconds and release it to cycle through the TV's power. Check your user manual for further instructions.

How to Extend Your Chromecast's Range

Older versions of Chromecast came with an extender—a length of HDMI cable that allows the dongle to extend farther behind the television. TVs block a lot of signals, so your Chromecast may not be able to detect the Wi-Fi network if it is blocked by the television. If you have one of these models, try the next set of instructions.

  1. Insert the extender into the HDMI port on your television.

  2. Insert the Chromecast into the dongle. Make sure it hangs below or outside the television.

  3. Try to use the Chromecast again. If extending the device has not solved your problem, consider moving the router or the TV so that the Chromecast has a clear line of sight to the router.

Most modern routers operate on a frequency of 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, or both. Chromecast is only compatible with 2.4 GHz networks, so make sure your router is broadcasting on that frequency.

How to Check Firmware

All devices have firmware, which is a type of software programmed into the onboard chips. Manufacturers often release firmware updates when security flaws or bugs are detected, or to improve compatibility with more devices. If the firmware isn't up to date on your television, router, or Chromecast, then you might experience difficulty casting or streaming.

  1. Open the settings menu on the device you're using. 

  2. Check the system data. This will be labeled differently depending on the device, but will often be under the "About" section.

  3. Check the firmware version. Some devices will give you the option to check for updates, while you will have to do a search to find the most recent version of others.

  4. Download the most recent firmware updates for all of your devices. This step may be more general than most, but that's only because there are too many potential devices to list steps for them all.

  5. Once the firmware is updated, try to connect the Chromecast again and see if the update has corrected your problem.

Note: If the problem is a poor signal quality or constant buffering, your Chromecast may not be receiving a strong signal. If you have already reset the device and checked any physical interference, check how many devices you have connected to the 2.4 GHz network in your home. If the network is too congested, it can cause low signal quality.

Change the Power Supply

The Chromecast has an included power supply, but most people use a USB or HDMI port on their television to power the device. While this works, there are potential downsides to using the television as a source of power.

 The first is that when the television is off, so is the Chromecast. This means the device has to restart each time you power on the TV and potentially download an update, which can result in slower response times.

The second problem is that not all TVs are created equal, and not all USB ports are grounded. This can result in power stuttering and spontaneous restarts. If you're experiencing any of these problems, disconnect the Chromecast's power from the television and plug it into a proper outlet.