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How to turn your TV on with Google Home

Google has made it even easier to turn on your TV with your voice. All you'll need is a Chromecast.

Chris Monroe/CNET
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Sarah Tew/CNET

Google has made it so all its smart home products work nearly seamlessly together, and it all stems from the brains of the operation: Google Home. With one of Google's smart speakers, you can adjust the temperature of a Nest thermostat, control Nest security cameras, and stream your favorite shows on Chromecast, without ever lifting a finger.

There's also something Google Home can do that you might not have known. It can turn on almost any TV. Here's how.

Check your TV for CEC support

To turn on your television with Google Home, you need two things: a Chromecast and a newer television that supports CEC.

A Chromecast by itself can power on your TV through a feature called CEC or Consumer Electronics Control. In short, if you enable this feature on your TV, it allows you to control the television through various HDMI devices. For instance, your Xbox, PlayStation or Blu-ray player can toggle the power of your television, and in the case of Chromecast, it can power the TV on and switch input sources.

Also, CEC isn't always referred to as the same thing, so if you don't see it in your television's settings, look for one of the recognized trade names:

  • AOC: E-link
  • Emerson: Fun-Link
  • Hitachi: HDMI-CEC
  • ITT: T-Link
  • LG: SimpLink
  • Loewe: Digital Link or Digital Link Plus
  • Magnavox: Fun-Link
  • Mitsubishi: NetCommand for HDMI or Realink for HDMI 
  • Onkyo: RIHD
  • Panasonic: HDAVI Control, EZ-Sync or Viera Link
  • Philips: EasyLink
  • Pioneer: Kuro Link
  • Runco International: RuncoLink
  • Samsung: Anynet+
  • Sharp: Aquos Link
  • Sony: BRAVIA Sync, BRAVIA Link, Control for HDMI
  • Sylvania: Fun-Link
  • Toshiba: CE-Link or Regza Link

Powering on a TV with Chromecast

HDMI-CEC is supported by most modern HD televisions. However, older models may not come equipped with the feature. If you find any mention of CEC or the above trade names in your television's settings, setup is a breeze.

  • Open the settings menu on your television and locate the CEC option.
  • Enable the setting and plug Chromecast into an open HDMI port.
  • With your TV off, select a video or music to stream from your phone.
  • Tap the Cast button and choose the Chromecast connected to your television.
  • Your television should power on and automatically switch to the Chromecast's input source.

What may vary is how the Chromecast needs to be powered. Most televisions have at least one USB port on the back, but they sometimes cycle power with the television itself. Some USB ports do not remain powered when the television is off. You can check this by looking for the status light on the Chromecast when the TV is off. If the status light is not on, you will need to use an AC adapter and externally power the Chromecast to keep it powered independently of the TV.

By default, HDMI-CEC is enabled on the Chromecast, so the next time you want to stream something on your television, you won't need to reach for the remote first.

Powering on a TV with Google Home

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Taking this one step further, you can forget the phone and remote altogether and just use a Google Home speaker to power on and control your television.

Originally, to turn on a television with Chromecast, you had to tell Google Home to stream something specific. For instance, you could say, "OK, Google, play cat videos on [Chromecast name]" or, "OK, Google, play 'Stranger Things' on [Chromecast name]."

Thanks to a recent update, however, you can now simply power on the TV by saying, "OK, Google, turn on my TV" or, "OK, Google, power on the TV." If you have multiple Chromecasts, you will either need to set a default TV in the Google Home app or specify which television you want to turn on by saying, "OK, Google, turn on the [Chromecast name]."

Once the television is on, you can use Google Home to control the Chromecast with your voice. Tell Google Home to play TV shows or movies on YouTube or Netflix or stream music with Google Play Music. You can also play, pause, stop and control the volume using your voice. Another new feature will automatically lower Chromecast volume while you're speaking to Google Home.

Also new is the ability to power off some televisions using Google Home. Say something like, "OK, Google, power off my TV" or, "OK, Google, power off [Chromecast name]." That said, just because your television supports CEC doesn't mean it supports the power-off function.