A step-by-step guide on how to set up your Google Chromecast

Google's Chromecast is a handy, inexpensive way to stream media from online to your HDTV using your computer or mobile device as a bridge. It uses your home Wi-Fi network and works with certain specific kinds of online content and websites.

As you may know, the device has just gone on sale in the UK a few weeks back, so you may have just bought one. While they're hardly difficult to set up, it's not quite as simple as just plugging it in – so we've provided this guide to ensure there are no initial hiccups.

This article will walk you through each step, so you can get everything working properly on the first try.

Let's dive on in...

Step 1: Plug in the Chromecast. The first thing you have to do when you take the Chromecast out of the box is plug it into your HDTV and into a powered USB port. This should be as easy as plugging the stick directly into a free HDMI port, and then plugging the microUSB cable from the Chromecast to an open USB port on the HDTV. But it might not be quite that simple, depending on your HDTV.

If your HDMI ports are clustered too close together, you may need the included HDMI cable extender to give the Chromecast more wiggle room. And if your HDTV doesn't have a powered USB port, you might have to connect the Chromecast to its included power adapter, and then plug that into a free power outlet. However you get the Chromecast plugged in and powered, it should start flashing as it turns on.

Step 2: Switch the HDTV Input to the Chromecast. This is even simpler than plugging it in: Set your HDTV input to whichever HDMI port the Chromecast is connected to. Your HDTV should show a friendly "Set Me Up" screen with the Chromecast's name and a URL to visit to begin the setup.

Step 3: Download the Chromecast app. Chromecast has dedicated Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac apps for setup, and they're extremely easy to use. Go to Google's Chromecast setup page on your mobile device or computer and install the app for your platform of choice.

Step 4: Run the Chromecast software and select the Chromecast. Regardless of the platform you're using, the app will automatically list any Chromecasts nearby in setup mode, and walk you through the process for setting them up to work with your Wi-Fi connection.

If you're setting up multiple Chromecasts at once, look at the HDTV which each Chromecast is connected to, and note the number on the screen. (You can name each Chromecast later, after you've set up the Wi-Fi connection.)

Step 5: Confirm the Chromecast code. After you select the Chromecast, your device will attempt to communicate with it. It will show a four-character code on the screen that should match a code that appears on your device in the setup software. If the code matches, click the correct box to move on to the next step.

Step 6: Rename your Chromecast (optional). If you have more than one Chromecast, or you just want to mark it as yours, the software will let you change its name once you confirm that it's connected to your device. You don't have to change the name if you're okay with ChromecastXXXX as its designation. Still, you may find it useful to name each one based on the room it's in, such as the Living Room or Den.

Step 7: Enter your Wi-Fi information. The software should automatically populate with your device's current Wi-Fi network. Just enter your network password and the Chromecast will try to log onto that network as well. As soon as it does, you're ready to start streaming to it. Note: The Chromecast only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks (though that could change in the future, fingers crossed).

Step 8: Start using your Chromecast. At this point, your Chromecast should be set up.

You can now stream away to your heart's content. Don't think that Google's HDMI dongle is only for streaming videos or TV shows at home, either; see our how to use Google Chromecast at work feature.

And for where to get started with Chromecast apps, take a look at 7 of the best Android and iOS apps for your Google Chromecast.