How to stream your video collection from a PC to the Xbox One

Beginners' Tips Series!

Xbox One is more than just a game console. It is an entertainment hub for games, television, music, and videos. And although the available apps put a ton of media at your fingertips, you can get even more out of your Xbox One by configuring it to play your own music and video collection with it.

You can stream via Play (Charms > Devices > Play), but today we will walk you through the networked approach, which assumes you have computers sharing the same network. There are two primary ways to do this. The first is to stream your media from your computer or tablet, and the second is to play it directly off of a USB drive. Today we will review how to do both. The beauty of this method over the Play system is you can do it all from your couch via the Xbox One, instead of sending the video from a PC to your console.

Streaming media from your computer

Step 1: Configuring your HomeGroup

The key to playing music and videos from your computer on your Xbox One is setting up a HomeGroup. If you do not have one set up yet, you can click the link in the previous sentence to see how.

You must make sure you configure your computer to share files with your Xbox. To do so:

On Windows 8.1:

  1. Open the HomeGroup settings by opening the Charms bar on the right, then going to Settings > Change PC settings > Network > HomeGroup.
  2. Locate the slider under Let devices on this network (like TVs and game consoles) stream my music and videos and move it to the one position.
  3. You can fine-tune your settings by going to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > HomeGroup and clicking on Allow all devices on this network such as TVs and game consoles to play my shared content. In this case, choose Allow next to your Xbox One.

On Windows 7:

  1. Go to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > HomeGroup.
  2. Make sure Music and/or Videos is checked under Share libraries, and printers.
  3. Under Share media with devices, check Stream my pictures, music and videos to all devices on my home network. If you would prefer, you can pick and choose which devices are allowed to stream media by clicking on Choose media streaming options… and choosing Allow next to your Xbox One.

Step two: Accessing shared media from your Xbox One

Once you have configured your HomeGroup properly, accessing media from your Xbox One is simple. The process is the same, whether you are streaming music or videos or pictures.

  1. On your Xbox One, open the Media Player app.
  2. Here you should see a list of computers that are on your network. Choose the one that you would like to stream from.
  3. Choose either music, videos, pictures or playlists.
  4. Choose how you want to sort your media
  5. Make your selection of what you want to play.

Accessing media from a USB drive

Media Player is also what you will use if you want to play music, view pictures, or watch a video from a USB drive.

Just plug your drive into the USB port on the left side of the Xbox One console, and then open Media Player. You will now see the USB drive show up alongside the networked computers.

Choose the drive and browse to your media, just like you would on a computer.

Xbox One stream

From day one, Xbox One was already a force to be reckoned with, but it left a lot to be desired in the way of apps and functionality that we were used to seeing on Xbox 360. The apps continue to arrive, making it better and better. And with the addition of Media Player, it is officially an entertainment juggernaut.

Do you use your Xbox One for accessing your home media? Share your experience with us in the comments.

72 Comments
  • I think Windows Media Center could have a special mention... It works on xbox 360 and accomplish the same purpose.   And my wife use my xbox mostly as a media center, especially to watch movies stored at my PC
  • Separate article. Not everyone has Media Center, in fact, most people do not at this point. However, having a Xbox One and a PC/tablet/laptop is pretty standard.
  • yes, MSFT depricated one of the best features of the Xbox in it's 'upgrade'.
  • How can I stream my videos from my PC to my phone Daniel? Sorry for being a little off topic but at least not way off.
  • I use server side apps like Tversity and PlayON.  Then you can download the respective apps for your phone to view videos.
     
  • You may wish to check out PLEX - install the server part on your PC, add the media libraries you want, then playback using the app on the phone.  I think there is a small charge for the software, but the interface is slick, and works fantastic.  
  • I disagree. There are more people owning an X360 (~84million sold units vs. 10million XBOne units shipped to retailers). The standard is not what's newer but what's more common.
  • Media Center Extender is a highly requested feature on uservoice.com. In terms of priority you have a good point, but to say there are not many users out there wanting to use Media Center on an Xbox One as an extender is just not accurate.
  • Thanks, been waiting for the news on media player vs usb drives.
  • How about from my PC to my phone?
  • Check out setting up a Plex media server on your PC, the interface is stellar and there's apps for just about every device out there.  It's amazing.
  • I use SmartPlayer as my client on my phone, on PC I use the built-in DLNA server function.
  • Maybe silly question, can it play media from NAS?
  • I don't believe NAS support is there yet, but MS did say it was coming. I need to check up on that.
  • I have a Synology and its Media Server works with Xbox One with no issues, I also successfully tried some MKV. the Media Server is based on DLNA so I guess most DLNA servers will work, great!
  • I can also verify that Dan. I have NAS using a Netgear Centria N900 router that I learned about from a review here. It works flawlessly with the Xbox One and Xbox 360 media server apps, as well as streaming to my Surface 2. Also tested the MVK update yesterday and it works on the X1 and Surface as well.
  • Nice, I have a NAS by QNAP just sitting around that I need to setup and try, thanks.
  • I have the old WD MyBookWorld and WD TV Live Hub. While it will recognize both it will only find media on the Live Hub which is also a "Play To" device. Hopefully NAS support will be coming in one of the updates.
    I should probably also mention that while the Xbox One recognizes the files and folders on my Dell Venue 8 Pro it does not do the same for anything saved to the micro SD. It is also experiences a lot of buffering when playing to the Xbox One.
  • Yep working fine here too, finally. Was one of the features I missed with the xbox one launch
  • I'm having trouble playing my .mkv files over my network to my Xbox One. No issues playing them via USB. I'm using Windows 7. Any advice, or is this a known lack of functionality?
  • Mate use plex media server on your pc streams to xbox one no problems at all, I use all the time.
  • Maybe there is a problem because a lack of support with win7. You should use Win9 a.k.a 8.1 =8+1
  • I believe this is due to the fact that the server still indexes the library through media player, which does not recognize MKV. Get Serviio, it's free and easy.
  • I am surprised that Plex didn't at least get an honorable mentione here.  Hands down it's the best way to stream media from the PC to the Xbox One and worth every penny.  I realize the methods described here are free, so that's an important distinction, but for all the added benefits of Plex, including a STUNNING GUI complete with automatic show information downloads, I think it's worth mentioning :-)
  • Separate article. Otherwise, this would turn into an overwhelming post.
  • No subtitles support. The rest of the world is ignored as always.
  • Life is full of challenges.
  • Third party (Plex or Mediabrowser) are the only subtitle options right now. It is rough when you live in US but most of your media is foreign.
  • I use my 1.5 tb myCloud with my xbox one... works fantastical... that makes all my devices that play well with my myCloud... love the myCloud
  • What about from Windows Phone to Xbox One? Music downloaded from Music app on phone shows up and plays in Xbox Music on console, but music that is transferred from my PC to phone via USB doesn't appear at all on console.
  • Use the "Play To" app :-D
  • That's a decent workaround, but not as elegant as I'd like, because it requires interaction with my phone, and my music gets on my devices in a variety of ways. I shouldn't have to use different tools/apps depending on how the music gets there. Maybe there's something stupid I'm missing here, but so far no solution.
  • Then just put all the music into your Win7 (or higher) PC and use the built-in DLNA server
  • http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=3e5b2336-ae5e-4328-8291-172bf02fa975
  • I simply use OneDrive. I put the avi or mp4 files in the cloud. Just open the file from the OneDrive app and it streams just fine. My files are available everywhere I have Wi-Fi on all my devices. Only down is no subtitles support but it doesn't bother me for what I like to watch.
  • Probably wouldn't work I've most peoples' internet connections for bluray rips...
  • Also, and this may not even apply to you, storing pirated media on Onedrive is against its terms of use policy and could theoretically result in your account being suspended.
  • Honestly, as nuts as they go about priacy, it probably applies to most people. I have resorted to downloading torrents of movies I own because it's faster than ripping it on my own. Yet I'm sure this would be viewd as piracy from the outside. They really need to get the laws really happered out on this, and get the different media companies out of the politicians pockets while they do it.
  • I've been streaming movies via my home network ever since they released media player for Xbox One ( Oct?). It still has issues. It sees the computer and shared folder but consistently shows files I deleted weeks ago and doesn't show files I recently added.
    I have found the best approach to simply use my Surface tablet to access the folder in question, right click on the video I want and select "play to - Xbox". Works flawlessly everytime.
  • Reindex your library. either launch media player, or have your 3rd party DLNA server rescan.
  • Thanks for replying! I don't have a third party DLNA server. How do I get media player to rescan?
  • You should just be able to launch it, and it'll do it automatically, or possibly a menu option for that. I have been using Serviio for a while now. Its free and really easy.
  • I've been playing stuff from a USB drive for awhile now, but couldn't figure out how to stream them directly. I'll try this out!
  • Plex bro...Plex... How about a seperate article featuring the Plex ecosystem and how it fits within the Windows ecosystem?  Windows is well supported by the team (Phone, Tablet, PC and Xbox One)  
  • Sure, we have many guides planned ;)
  • It would be nice if they allowed Xbox video work the same way.
  • I recommend Media Browser 3, it is great and it support ISO files.
  • Another option..... A NAS with DLNA support! I use my XBOX One with my Synology NAS to stream videos to my living room..... SUPER easy
  • Does voice control work in the media player all over Xbox One? I never understood why if u right clicked a file and play to....it would allow the voice controls on the 360.
  • Yep. You can control the video playback with your voice.
  • I have actually started uploading my collection to OneDrive. I can watch movies on all my devices with no problems.
    Only complaint is the web interface allows you to set the quality level, telling me they're transcoding my video. Not a bad thing, I actually wish that option was in the WP app so I could control my data usage.
  • I've tried the same, but my OneDrive app in XB1 only lets me browse my Pictures subfolder. Are you just putting your videos in your Pictures folder, or am I missing something?
  • Oneadrive app support mp4 videos.
  • Is this missing a step? If I remember correctly I had to launch Windows media player and make sure it indexed my media library before it would show on my Xbox One. Also with that method I was unable to view MKV files. I found that Serviio was a better DLNA server, took no time to install and configure and it was free.
  • There are better dlna servers than serviio, with more features.
  • That's great. Doesn't change the fact that I got it for free and was streaming my first video off it in less than 15 minutes. I don't need features, I need to to be easy and to work. Most of what I do, I set up equally for my parents. I keep it super simple, and I'm able to stay very familiar with it so I can provide support over the phone for them.
  • Imagine how much better it would be if they shipped the SDK to app hub devs and let anybody with an app hub account submit apps. we sould have had this functionality within weeks, probably we would have VLC, and probably we would have every app under the sun instead of the limited apps MS curates. I'm kind of hoping sony opens up sooner than MS because MS still stuck on the pre-iphone days when platforms didn't use open appstores with nost just 100, but 100K apps as means to obtain dominance.