The best Google TV tips, tricks and features that everyone should know

Google TV is being praised for bringing a much-needed facelift to Android TV. But its strengths are the new features and the ecosystem benefit it brings. With the revamped interface, your TV works well with your Android smartphone for a truly connected TV experience. If you’ve recently bought one of the best streaming boxes or TVs, you’re sure to see a lot of changes, such as the focus on the content rather than the streaming services, in addition to the noticeable visual upgrades. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favorite Google TV tips and tricks that you should check out to take your Netflix binge experience to the next level.


1 Virtual remote comes to the rescue

There will be instances when you can’t find your Chromecast remote. It’s either buried deep in that crevice in the couch, or someone left it on the counter when they went to get some snacks. And if you’re anything like a regular TV watcher, you wouldn’t get up to find the remote. Your best solution is at your fingertips: your phone!

The new Google TV app has a handy built-in virtual remote and works on Android handsets and iPhones. You can get almost anything done with it, including asking the Google Assistant stupid questions. And the best part is that you don’t need the physical controller to set up the virtual remote (as long as your TV device is powered on). This is how you set it up:

  1. In the
    Google TV app
    tap on your phone
    Remote control

  2. Select the TV from the list.

  3. Enter the six-digit alphanumeric code displayed on the selected TV on the next screen.

  4. Crane

2 Install apps on your TV with your Android phone

Google TV and Android phones are some of the best examples of the ecosystem advantage, something Apple is usually praised for. While the pair enhances your TV experience in many ways, the one major advantage is that you don’t have to install big screen apps the conventional way. You can use your Android phone to install apps on your Chromecast device or a TV with Google’s new user interface, as long as both devices are signed in to the same Google account. Here’s the easy way to install apps on your Chromecast with Google TV using your phone:

  1. Open the
    Google Play Store
    on your phone and search for the app you want to install on your Google TV.

  2. On the app page, open the drop-down to see more options.

  3. The pop-up screen shows a list of connected devices. Select the TV on which you want to install the app.

  4. Crane
    to install
    . And the app will be ready for use on your TV in no time.

3 Become a Chromecast power user with Button Mapper

Google TV is nothing but a fancy looking launcher that runs over Android TV. This means you get all the customization features that Android is known for. And Button Mapper is a tool that allows you to map multiple functions to the buttons of the remote control, making them more useful.

For example, you can program the home button to open the Play Store with a double press, in addition to the usual function of taking you to the home screen. This often comes in handy since Google TV doesn’t have an easy way to access the Play Store. And this doesn’t mess with your existing playback controls on the remote. Before proceeding with the steps below, install it Mapper button app on your TV using the previous pointer.

Button Mapper uses the device’s accessibility services to enable its features, so there are two parts to this process. First, give the app accessibility rights.

  1. Click on your
    profile icon
    in the upper right corner.

    Profile picker on the Google TV homepage

  2. Open

    Google TV settings option

  3. Scroll down and select

    Google TV settings page

  4. Go to

    Accessibility settings for Google TV

  5. Under Services, click
    Mapper button

    Button Mapper in Google TV accessibility settings

  6. Click
    and then click

    Enable Button Mapper in Google TV accessibility settings

This allows Button Mapper to remap the buttons on the remote. Next, program what you want Button Mapper to do.

  1. From the Google TV app section, open it
    Mapper button

    Google TV all app page with Button Mapper highlighted

  2. Select
    Home button

        Button Mapper to Edit Google TV Home Button

  3. To turn on
    To adjust

    Button Mapper on Google TV customizes the home button

  4. Go to in the list below
    Double tap
    and then click the category picker.

    Button Mapper on Google TV customizes the home button

  5. Click

    Button Mapper on Google TV opens Play Store with Home button

  6. Find
    Play Store
    in the list and click it.

    Button Mapper on Google TV opens Play Store with Home button

After that, double click the home button to open the Play Store from any screen on Google TV. Similarly, you can set up your TV to take a screenshot (as we did for this tutorial) using the Actions category when you long press the home button.

Button Mapper on Google TV takes a screenshot with Home Button

The free app only lets you customize the home button, but paying a fee unlocks more in-app features.

4 Set up your Google Watchlist

A big advantage of Google TV is a cross-platform watch list that syncs with Google services. So if you add a movie to your list from Google Search, it will automatically be added to your Android TV. There are three ways to populate your Google Watchlist:

  • When searching for a movie title, select the
    Do you want to watch button

  • Select in the Google TV app on your phone
    from the title page of the film.

  • Click on the on your TV set
    button on the title page of the movie.

    Add movie to your Google TV Google Watchlist

These methods will add the movie or TV show to your synced watchlist. You can find it under the Library part of your TV or in the Your stuff tab of the Google TV app on your phone.

5 Bring your family to Google TV

Google TV now allows everyone in your family to have an individual profile, confusing your recommendations. This allows each of these profiles to have their own watchlist and content suggestions tailored to their viewing pattern. In a few simple steps you can create a new profile for your family members or create a child profile.

  1. Click on your
    profile icon
    then go to
    Add Account

    Add Google TV homepage account

  2. Select on the profile management page
    Add Account

    Add Google TV account page

  3. Click
    Add an account
    Add a child
    to set up a profile for your child.

    Add Google TV profile page

  4. On the next page, log in with the user’s Google account information, and that’s it.

    Google TV add profile enter gmail account details

  5. You can switch accounts using the profile icon.

6 Cut the clutter with Android TV-like app-only mode

Not everyone likes to see their TV full of movies, TV shows, recommendations and advertisements. If you want to see the simpler interface, Google TV lets you do that with its apps-only mode. The option strips Google TV of all its suggestions to give you a clean home screen with only the apps you’ve installed, similar to Android TV. Here’s how to enable it.

  1. On the television
    go to
    Accounts and login

    Settings menu for Google TV accounts

  2. Select
    your profile
    on the next page.

    Profile picker for Google TV account pages

  3. Scroll down and turn on
    App-only mode

    Setting for

  4. Give your confirmation by clicking on the
    To turn on

    Google TV turns on app-only mode

7 Enable HDMI-CEC

The Chromecast with Google TV supports HDMI-CEC, so you can only use the Chromecast remote control with compatible TVs. With the option enabled, you can do basic things on your TV, such as turning on the Chromecast and turning on your smart TV. This is useful, especially when you’re casting your favorite Netflix series or Google Photos collection to your Chromecast, which automatically turns on the TV.

  1. below
    Display and sound

    Google TV Display and sound setting

  2. Go to

    Google TV HDMI CEC setting under display settings

  3. Click
    Enable HDMI-CEC

    Google TV supports HDMI CEC

8 Do more with your Google TV

A demonstration of Google TV at CES 2023

Google TV is one of the nicest additions to the larger Google ecosystem. You can easily set it up with the Google Home app and use your existing Nest speakers to control many Google TV functions. Conversely, Google Assistant built into Google TV can just as easily control your smart home devices. All the cross-platform features that work on Android (and even iOS) phones and other Google services, such as the Ambient Mode powered by your Google Photos memories, are fantastic bonuses that take your TV viewing experience to the next level and personalize it. If you’re not already on the Google TV bandwagon, these niceties will make you want to jump aboard.

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