Google’s Chromecast makes it easy to browse for videos and watch them on your TV, but what if you want to quickly pause playback without reaching for your smartphone or computer? You can now do this right from your TV’s built-in remote.
This feature makes use of a feature called HDMI-CEC. Through the HDMI-CEC standard most modern TVs offer, you can now use the physical remote that came with your TV to pause and unpause videos while they’re playing on your Chromecast.
You’ll Need HDMI-CEC Enabled For This
You’ll need to have HDMI-CEC enabled on your TV to do this. This is a fairly common feature on modern televisions, although some TVs ship with it disabled by default and most TV manufacturers call it something else.
The CEC feature may be called Anynet+, BRAVIA Sync, SimpLink, Aquos Link, VIERA Link, or any number of other odd names. Consult our guide to enabling HDMI-CEC for a list of names and steps you can take to find the HDMI-CEC feature on your TV.
Bear in mind that some TVs — especially older ones — don’t offer HDMI-CEC. Some TVs do offer HDMI-CEC, but may only enable it on a specific HDMI port. And some TVs that do include HDMI-CEC may not include the “Deck Control” feature the Chromecast relies on here.
Basically, Deck Control just allows your TV to send playback button presses (Play/Pause/Stop/Rewind/Fast Forward) to devices like your Chromecast over the HDMI port. This allows you to use your TV’s remote control to control connected devices, and it may also work for Blu-Ray players or set-top boxes. Of course, those devices generally ship with their own dedicated remotes, so that’s less critical.
How to Pause and Unpause From a Physical Remote
If you have HDMI-CEC enabled and your TV supports the correct CEC features, this should “just work” — although you may never think to try it. Rather than fumbling for your smartphone or reaching for the pause button on your laptop, just pick up your television’s remote control.
Look for the Pause and Play buttons on your TV’s remote. While something’s playing back on your Chromecast, press the Pause button to pause the video (or music) and the Play button to resume playing. Yes, it’s that simple — although you’ll obviously have to point your remote at your TV. The remote sends the signal to your TV, and the TV sends the Pause or Play signal to the Chromecast over the HDMI port.
It really is that simple, although it will only work in apps that support this feature. However, many Chromecast apps already support easy Pause/Play. This currently works with YouTube, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, Google Play Music, WatchESPN, TuneIn Radio, Plex, and other apps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t yet seem to work with Netflix. It’s up to Netflix and other apps to add support for this feature.
What About Rewind, Fast Forward, and Stop?
The HDMI Deck Control specification would also allow a Chromecast to receive Rewind, Fast Forward, and Stop button presses from a TV’s remote control. You could theoretically one day rewind and fast forward videos on your Chromecast — right from your TV’s physical remote control.
However, the Chromecast doesn’t have support for these features. Google may add support for this in the future, allowing you to use your TV’s remote control for even more. For now, Pause and Play are the only events that work. Those are at least the most common buttons you’ll need while watching a Chromecast — it’s nice to simply pause a video while it’s playing with your TV’s remote control rather than reaching for a phone.
In the future, a Chromecast could do even more with HDMI-CEC. Imagine using the arrow and Select buttons on your TV’s remote control to navigate menus in your Chromecast’s interface. Your Chromecast could function much like a Roku, Fire TV, or Apple TV — without needing its own separate remote control.
This would be possible — although it would require Google and third-party developers add a menu system to the Chromecast. For now, it’s just convenient being able to pause and unpause videos and music with an old-fashioned remote control.