News Highlights: How to remap the remote buttons and take a screenshot on the Chromecast with Google TV
Unlike previous Chromecasts, the (relatively) new Chromecast with Google TV comes with a little cute remote that lets you launch apps, control playback, and navigate the interface without needing your phone. However, one downside to that remote is that it offers some preset buttons that launch YouTube and Netflix. What if you don’t watch Netflix at all and prefer Plex and Disney +? Or how about launching your favorite music service? There’s an easy way to remap some of those buttons to do whatever you want, and as a bonus, the same method can be used to take screenshots on your Chromecast. Two birds with one stone? Let’s go.
While this tutorial was written for the Chromecast with Google TV, it also applies to any other Android TV device, including the Nvidia Shield, Mi Box series, and more. Just exercise your better judgment when assigning functions for one tap to avoid breaking crucial external functionality, and you should be fine.
Buy Button Mapper
First, you need to download a third party app called Button Mapper. Grab it from the Play Store in the widget above or use Assistant to search for it on your Chromecast, install it and launch it. You will be asked to enable the accessibility service to check the buttons you press and take their action. To do this, go to Settings> System> Accessibility> Button Mapper of your Google TV and enable it. The steps are described below.
Not all buttons are created equal
Once the accessibility service is enabled, you can go back to Button Mapper. The app allows you to assign different actions for a single tap, double tap and long press of each button, so you can add even more functionality by using these combinations.
But watch out! You shouldn’t mess with essential functions on your remote or you’ll enjoy troubleshooting or maybe even resetting your Chromecast completely. That means you shouldn’t change the single tap action of the D-pad, Home, Back, Power and volume buttons. In several cases, tampering with the double or long press will also have unwanted consequences (especially on the D-pad), so you shouldn’t tinker with it either. And there are a few buttons where built-in functionality still occurs even if you try to ignore them, making them less practical to use. The table below shows which combinations are suitable for customization and which you want to avoid.
(1) Reassigning the mute and volume buttons is not as easy as you may think. It depends a lot on whether you control the volume of your TV or sound system with the remote control of the Chromecast, and therefore on the option you chose in Settings -> Remotes and accessories -> Set up remote control buttons -> Volume control. This menu is a complicated mess that we’ve explained before, and honestly, I would recommend moving on; it’s just not worth it. But if you really want to be adventurous, read on.
In my experience, choosing the first two options in that setting (Auto or your TV) disables the ability to reassign the buttons on the remote. You have to switch to Chromecast volume, which means you lose surround sound and the ability to control the volume of your TV or sound system – you can only change the volume of the Chromecast. On the plus side, this allows you to remap the mute and volume buttons to anything in Button Mapper and they will do their thing. I really wanted to use this one to skip or rewind songs, but I soon found that it wasn’t worth the loss of functionality.
Reassigning the volume or mute buttons is possible, but not worth the compromise.
Reassign a button to take a screenshot
One of the advantages of Button Mapper is that it unlocks the screenshot functionality, which is in no other way easily accessible on Android TV or Google TV (instead of using adb). Just choose the desired button and pattern and assign the screenshot function to it. In my case, this is what I did:
- Select Home Button in Button Mapper
- Toggle Customize
- Select Long press
- Select Actions from the drop-down list
- Scroll down and look for Screenshot.
Now when I long press the home button my Chromecast will take a screenshot and save it to / Pictures / Screenshots. I can then use a file browser app to share them with my local network or upload them to Google Drive or Dropbox. A third-party app, such as Send files to TV, can also help to share them with my phone.
Reassign the input buttons for Netflix and TV
Button Mapper only displays a few buttons by default – the app is made for Android in general, not just Android TV – so we’ll have to add special buttons that we want to customize. To do this, select Add Buttons> Add Buttons (again) and press the one you want to add. Netflix is shown as BUTTON_3, TV input as TV_INPUT. Choose the one you want to customize and you can now assign any functionality to it.
Button Mapper supports different types of actions including taking screenshot, opening settings, launching installed apps, activating some screenshots, switching Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, controlling media playback and even more advanced adb and script functions. However, keep in mind that since this is the Android TV UI and not a regular Android phone, some options won’t do anything or be nearly useless. For example, you can’t see the recent apps menu or switch to the previous app, the power menu doesn’t do much, and things like turning on the flashlight don’t make sense.
In my case, I switched the single press of the Netflix button to launch the Plex application and the double to open Spotify. I have not adjusted the long press because even if the action is done correctly, the original functionality still occurs after it, which will open the Netflix app listing in the Play Store even if it is not installed.
You can also use this to add YouTube (BUTTON_2), mute (VOLUME_MUTE), and all of the D-pad buttons, but none of them are worth the compromise. That leaves the Assistant and Power buttons, neither of which can be added to Button Mapper – the app just won’t see them. Other ideas for mapping buttons
In addition to using different combinations to launch your favorite streaming apps, there are also a few cool or useful ideas you can assign to the Chromecast’s external buttons.
- Open the full Play Store, Google Play Games, or Google Play Movies & TV apps – there is no icon for any of these pre-installed apps in the Google TV launcher, so Button Mapper allows you to quickly open them without using voice commands. or dive into multiple submenus.
- Go to System Settings – instead of always going to the Home screen, opening the side panel and scrolling down to select Settings, you can reach them with a combination of buttons. I opted for a double tap on the home button, it makes sense.
- Kill the foreground app – this is a nice weapon to have if an app is misbehaving, or if I just want to quit a foreground app and unload it from memory. It made sense for me to assign it to a long press of the back button.
- Control media playback – if you don’t care about taking screenshots or launching apps, you can always assign some buttons to skip or rewind songs or video tracks that are currently playing.
I’ve been using Button Mapper on my Android TV devices (Shield, Xgimi Mogo Projectors and now Chromecast) for several years now. It’s one of the first tools I install and while it takes a few minutes to set up and see what combinations work on each unit, this is all the engagement it takes. After that, I forget that the app exists and let it do its thing, which is great when taking screenshots is some sort of task requirement.
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