Ever wondered how people control Netflix from their smartphone, or show holiday photos from their handset on the TV? It's all down to screen mirroring. Discover what it is, and the most popular gadgets that enable you to make the most out of this smart tech feature, below.

What is Screen Mirroring?

Not entirely sure what screen mirroring is? Also known as screen casting, the technology basically enables you to duplicate what you can see on your mobile's screen onto another device, like a TV for example. Once connected, whatever you do on your smartphone will be reflected on the other screen - ideal if you need to share something with a group of friends or your work colleagues.

In some cases, screen mirroring may be limited to projecting just your web browser or apps like Netflix and YouTube.

Three of the most popular ways to screencast include using AirPlay on Apple TV, a Google Chromecast or by mirroring a device with a Samsung Smart TV.

Screen Mirroring with Google Chromecast

Both Android devices and iPhones can be used with Google Chromecast. This handy little gadget will only set you back around £30, and it makes casting a breeze. Of course, to get started you'll need to buy a Chromecast, own a TV with an HDMI port, and be connected to your home Wi-Fi.

The next step is to use the USB provided and plug one end into the Chromecast, and the other into the power adaptor provided in the box. Then, plug the Chromecast into your TV's HDMI port - easy.

Next, make sure your smartphone, tablet or laptop can access the same network. Once both are in range, download the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet. For PC users, you simply need the latest version of Google Chrome downloaded.

Once the app has finished downloading, open it and follow the on-screen steps. It'll guide you through setup, which includes confirming your Google account and setting up Wi-Fi. Finally, you're ready to use your Chromecast. Take your device, make sure you're connected to Wi-Fi then open any app that works with Chromecast.

Let's say you're using YouTube - just pick a video on your phone, press play and then tap the cast button. It'll instantly show up on your TV, and you can even use your phone as a remote to pause, press play or increase the volume.

Google fan? Why not also check out our Google Android P Preview?

Screen Mirroring with Samsung Smart View

Samsung has released its own app, Samsung Smart View, that both PC or smartphone users can download in order to view multimedia content from their device on a Samsung Smart TV.

Offering more than just screen mirroring - you can, for example, use your smartphone as a TV remote - Samsung Smart View aims to make life easier. It's simple to use too, here's exactly how to do it:

1. First, turn on both your TV and mobile or PC.
2. Next, make sure your Samsung Smart TV and smartphone/PC can access the same internet connection. Connect both to the same network to continue.
3. Download the Samsung Smart View app on your phone, Windows PC or iMac/MacBook. Available from Google Play, Apple's App Store or Samsung Galaxy Apps, any Android handset or iPhone can connect to a Samsung Smart TV - you don't need a Samsung phone to benefit from the feature.
4. Then, launch the app and follow the steps on screen. Instructions may vary depending on the model of Samsung Smart TV you own. For example, you may be promoted to enter a 4-digit code or manually press Allow on the TV to connect.
5. Once connected, you're ready to go. Play music and videos, show photos, control apps like YouTube and Netflix from your phone or use your phone as a remote control for live TV.

Looking for a new Samsung handset? Discover which Samsung phone is right for you.

Screen Mirroring with Apple AirPlay

Screen mirroring is also easy with an Apple TV. Using AirPlay - a feature created by Apple - you'll be able to stream videos, share photo albums and display your device's screen directly onto your television in no time.

Whether you're using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, the steps for activating AirPlay are always the same. Just make sure you set up your Apple TV correctly first, and double check that it uses the same connection as your chosen Apple device.

Want to share a video you've created on iMovie in the living room, or control Netflix from your phone? Once your Apple TV has been connected and plugged in, just open an app on your device and tap the AirPlay icon. Can't see it? Tap the Action icon, then select Airplay.

From here, your Apple TV should pop up. Click on it to begin streaming, then follow the same steps above and click on your device (e.g. Tom's iPhone) to stop streaming.

If you'd rather mirror your entire screen, there are different steps to take. First, you'll need to open Control Centre on your iOS device and press Screen Mirroring. From here, choose your Apple TV from the list of available gadgets and if a passcode appears on your TV screen, enter it on your iOS device. You should see your device's screen pop up on the TV, and every action you take will be reflected here until you open up Control Centre once again, tap Screen Mirroring and select Stop Mirroring.

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