How to stream media from your PC to Xbox One
Here's how to stream media directly from your PC to your Xbox One
20 Feb 2020
The Xbox One was touted by Microsoft as the only device you need in your living room for gaming, TV, videos, music and more. But how exactly do you stream your media library from your PC to your Xbox One?
Universal Media Server and the Media Player app
Universal Media Server (UMS) is a great app that works with all kinds of devices and setups and is a really useful tool when it comes to streaming to your Xbox One. In conjunction with the UMS program, we can use the Xbox's Media Player app to view all the files.
Setting up Universal Media Server
In order for your Xbox One to see your films, TV shows and more, we first have to set up your PC so that it acts as a media server. The simplest way of doing this is through a program called Universal Media Server (UMS), which broadcasts your files across a home network so the Xbox One can see them and play them back on your TV.
You'll need to make sure you have an up-to-date version of Java installed on your PC - this is required for UMS to work. You may already have Java on your computer, but if not, go to java.com and download it before continuing. In the interests of security, you should never download Java from unknown websites.
Once you have downloaded and finished installing Java, download and install Universal Media Server. Simply visit the website and click the Windows logo and the file will download.
The program is free to use and works with nearly every computer or console. Once it's installed, open it and you will see the UMS main panel.
Now we must tell Universal Media Server where to find your files. By default it will access all your storage, and shares pretty much everything on your PC – so instead, it's better just to add only the folders you want to share. To do this, follow these steps:
- Click on the Navigation/Share Settings tab at the top of the UMS main panel.
- Under the Shared Folders section, highlight all drives and press the red x to unselect this.
- Now press the Folder icon and find your media folder, then press open. That folder will now be added to the shared folders list.
- You can add as many different folders as you want. Once you've added some folders, UMS must be restarted to save the changes. Press the Restart Server button at the top of the UMS main panel.
Your PC is now set up and accessible from your Xbox One with the Media Player app!
Using the Media Player app
Way back in October 2014, Microsoft added a basic media player app to the Xbox which can access all of the folders you have shared from your PC. This app comes as part of the operating system, so you don't need to install it separately.
- Starting from your Xbox One Start Screen, browse to your apps.
- Once you can see your apps, look for and open the Media Player app.
- Once this opens, you will see your Media Server app. Select this.
- You'll see any available content to stream. Browse through the folders to find a suitable song or video. Once you've found the content you're after, simply select it to begin playing.
Streaming from Plex Media Server
Plex is a great service that can transform your PC and Xbox One into a powerful media centre. You set up Plex Media Server on PC, then grab the Plex app on your Xbox One to enjoy a fantastic media streaming experience!
Install Plex Media Server on your PC
Setting up Plex is quite easy, as once you open it, you're taken step by step through the process. First, you’ll need to download Plex Media Server, so head to the Plex website and download Plex Media Server to your computer.
Once the Plex Media Server has finished downloading, open the file to start setting it up.
- On the first box that opens, press the install button.
- Press Yes or Continue on the UAC prompt (if you see one).
- Wait a minute or two while Plex is installed.
- Once it finishes, press Launch to open up Plex Media Server and start setting it up.
Configure Plex Media Server
Your web browser will now open to begin the Plex setup. If it doesn't open automatically, look for and click on the Plex logo in your task tray - found in the bottom corner of the screen (where the time, date, Wi-Fi and other icons are found).
- Press the Agree button to begin.
- Choose a name for your server and press next.
- Press Add library to begin adding content to your Plex Media Server.
- Choose the type of media you want to add from the choices available, then press Next.
- Give this library a name and press Next.
- Press add folder and select the folder where your chosen media is stored on your PC. Then press the add button to finish this library.
- Repeat these steps for each type of library you want to add (music, TV shows and so on). Once you've picked your libraries, click Next.
- You can then add some Plex Channels or skip this for now by pressing Next. Your Plex setup is now complete, so press Done to finish.
Using the Plex App
As of December, the Plex app is now free to use on Xbox One - you no longer have to have a Plex Pass subscription to use it.
The Plex app is a great way to enjoy music and video on the Xbox One and organises your media library so you can find what to watch quickly and easily. You can browse your TV shows and movies, and Plex will show all the information and metadata it can find about each item - episode description, release year, and so on. It will also show cover art for the shows or movies you're watching.
The Plex app can be downloaded from the Store on your Xbox One, to download it open the Store, go to the Apps section and search for Plex. Once downloaded, open the app and you are asked to pair or sign in. Once you are signed in, you'll see your entire library and can access it through your Xbox.
Streaming directly from your Windows PC
One easy way to stream from your Windows PC is to simply find the file you want to stream and 'push' it to the Xbox One. First, make sure that your Xbox One is listed as a Device on your computer by following these steps.
- Click on your Start Menu and open the Control Panel.
- Click on the search box in the top right corner of the Control Panel, then type Devices.
- In the Search results, click on Devices and Printers.
- You will see a list of devices attached to your PC, which should include your Xbox One. If you do not see the Xbox One, click Add a device.
- Your PC will now search for new devices. If the Xbox One appears, add the device to your PC. If it still does not show when searching for devices, try restarting both devices and try again.
Once the Xbox One appears as a device on your PC, we're ready to begin streaming to it. Windows computers have a feature called Play To, which lets the PC play a video straight to another device - in our case, the Xbox One. There are a few different ways you can use this feature, depending on your Windows version.
Using Windows Explorer (Windows 10, 8 or 7)
Windows Explorer is the go-to program for finding anything on your PC. You can find it by clicking on the folder icon on your taskbar, or by opening any of your main folders (My Videos, My Music, etc.). To stream content from Explorer, follow these steps.
- On your computer, find the file you want to play on your Xbox One. Right-click on the file and select Play To.
- You'll get a list of available devices, so select your Xbox One.
- Your PC will now play the file on your console.
- On your Xbox One, you will see the Xbox Music or Xbox Video open, and the file will start to play.
Using Apps (Windows 10, 8)
Windows 8 and 10 include some great built-in apps for playing video and music, and there are many third-party apps which can easily stream content to your Xbox One. To stream from these apps, follow these steps.
- Open the App on your computer and start playing the video or song you want to stream.
- Open the Windows Charms Menu by swiping in from the right edge, or moving your mouse cursor along the right-hand edge.
- Once the Charms Menu appears, select Devices and choose the option for Play.
- Your Xbox One will be listed. Select it to stream to your Xbox.