Did the kids give you a Chromecast for Christmas? Are you using it to watch Netflix? Great! Did you know that if you’re a Google Photos user, you can also display your latest and greatest photos on the TV as a screensaver when the Chromecast is not in use?
Setting this up is a two-step process. First, you need to decide how you will organise your images in Google Photos. Next, you will need to use the Google Home app on your smartphone to set up your Chromecast.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through both steps.
Organising your images in Google Photos
If you’re an active Google Photos user, this will be an easy decision. You probably already have a neatly organised photo library with lots of albums covering every family event from the past few years, facial recognition running on full speed, and your best photos marked as favourites. In that case, skip straight to the next section.
For everyone else, here are some ways you may wish to organise your photos to make the most of the Chromecast screensaver you’re about to set up. I’ve ranked these options from easiest to most involved. You can choose one or multiple options.
- Do nothing: Yep, that’s right. If you’re backing up your images to Google Photos, you could choose to do absolutely nothing. Mileage may vary when it comes to how great your slideshow will be.
- Turn on facial recognition: This is a set-and-forget option. By turning on facial recognition and then helping Google learn which face belongs to which name, you’ll be able to set up a Chromecast screensaver slideshow later on that will display select family members and friends. You’ll be relying on Google’s smarts when it comes to building the TV slideshow, so mileage will vary for this setting.
- Pick favourite photos: This is when you will need to start doing a little bit of work – but not too much. Every so often, swing by your Google Photos app and swipe through your latest images. Mark any photo you like as a favourite by tapping the star at the top of the screen while you’re viewing individual photos.
- Make Google Photos albums: This option takes the most kind of effort. But if you like tinkering with your digital photo collection odds are you will want to do this anyway. Long story short, make albums in Google Photos. Kids’ birthday party? That’s an album. Trip to Germany? That’s an album too. New boat? Definitely an album!
Setting up your Chromecast
When you (or the tech-kid) set up your Chromecast, this was done through the Google Home app. Odds are you will already have this app on your smartphone. If not, head over to the App Store or Google Play and install Google Home. Once you’ve downloaded the app and signed in, you’ll be able to manage your Chromecast. These are the steps you will need to take to get your photos playing as a screensaver on the TV:
- Download and install the Google Home app. You may also need to log in with your Google username and password.
- Make sure your phone on to the same wireless network as your Chromecast.
- Once you’re on the correct network, you’ll see your Chromecast showing in the Google Home app. Tap on the Chromecast to continue. (If you have multiple Chromecasts, tap on the one you wish to set up.)
- Tap Edit or the cogwheel in the top-right corner, then scroll down and tap on Ambient mode. This is where your Google Photos slideshow is waiting for you.
- From the ambient mode screen, tap Google Photos.
- Select which photos will feature in your screensaver slideshow. There will be multiple options depending on how you chose to organise your images in the earlier section:
- Recent highlights: If you’ve done nothing other than uploading your images to Google Photos, this is what you’ll want to select. Google will pick what it thinks are your best photos from the past few months and spin up a slideshow on your TV.
- People: If you’ve trusted Google to do some facial recognition for you, you can go with this choice. For this one, you will select a handful of people that you want to feature in your Chromecast screensaver slideshow. Based on your selection, Google will pick what it thinks are the best photos of these people and put together your screensaver automatically.
- Favourites: For those of you who mark images as favourites, this is an easy option. Google will play through your favourites.
- Albums: If you have a good system with photo albums in Google Photos, this is the option for you. Pick the albums you want featuring in your screensaver and Google will do the rest. Remember to check back in to update your album selection every so often to keep your screensaver slideshow up to date.