How to stream multimedia to your Xbox One from your Windows PC

When Microsoft released the Xbox One back in November of 2013, the console came without the ability to play multimedia from an external device, such as a flash drive. It seemed that the ultimate entertainment console would not be able to play any of your personal content and instead you would be locked to approve multimedia apps on the platform, but that is not the case.

The Digital Living Network Alliance was established in 2003 by Sony and aimed at creating an easy way to share media between devices. In essence, DLNA makes it easy to stream content from one device (such as you PC) to another device (such as your Xbox One).

Get Streaming

To get your devices up and streaming is a simple process. First, make sure that the PC you want to stream from and the Xbox One you are using are on the same network; either device can be connected via wireless or wired, but we recommend using a wired connection for the best performance.

Next head over to the Xbox One console that you wish to stream multimedia to and access the “Settings” menu. From there, find the “Preferences” option and make sure “Play To” is enabled. These steps will now setup your console and allow it to have multimedia pushed from any PC. Make sure you are performing these operations on a secure network; otherwise, your neighbor might feel the urge to constantly Rick roll your console.

As long as the devices are on the same network, you can begin streaming! There are a few ways to get your content up on the big screen. The first option is to find the multimedia file on your PC that you want to share, simply right click on it, and then select “Play To”. The second option is to open Windows Media Player and select the “Play To” option from there.

For those looking for quick a summary of the above steps:

  1. Make sure that your Xbox and PC are connected to the same network.
  2. In you Xbox One's settings make sure that "Play To" is selected under "Preferences".
  3. From your Windows PC right click any multimedia file and select "Play To".
  4. Alternatively, open Windows Multimedia player and select the "Play To" option from there.

If you are using Windows 8, you can even push content directly from a Windows Store application to your television. The applications must support sharing to external devices, so note that not every app will work with this process. If you head into ether the Music or Video app on Windows 8, you can bring up the Charms Bar, select “Devices”, and then hit “Play” to get going.

Some Troubleshooting

Some users have experienced problems with their Xbox One not showing up as an option to “Play To”, if this is the case head into the “Devices and Printers” section of the Control Panel. From there, click “Add Device” and you should see your console as an option.

If you are still having problems streaming to your console, you can stop by our Xbox One forum here at WPCentral – to magically be transported there, click here.

Overall, this is a great way to stream your personal multimedia content to your Xbox One entertainment console, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that Microsoft pushes an update to allow plug and play of attached storage.

Have you tried using DLNA to stream content to your Xbox One or other device?

Michael Archambault
  • I am still a heavy Windows Media Center user via the XBOX 360 extender...
  • Then Microsoft hates you. Me too, but since I don't really play games anymore my incentive to upgrade is nil. Talk about a missed opportunity to update WMC for the MODERN UI and integrate it into their unified vision.
  • I am still having to use my old ATV2 with XBMC, I store all my videos on a NAS, which the ATV can connect to and stream away merrily in any format. For the xbox is a massive pollava having to run a computer, play the video on it, then use playto (which often cuts out half way through), and then 80% of the time you find that the video is in a format the xbox cant play... Useless.
    I was really hoping to be able to ditch the ATV a just have one device... Sigh. Oh and if you're using play to on a computer, it generally means you cant use the computer at the same time, or the video will fail. You also cant let the screen time out, or he video will fail.
  • You are not alone! I know we are not legion in numbers (I don't know why not though) and I keep wondering what the future is, if there is one, for us. MS doesn't support WMC development any longer and it is unknown if it will even be available with W9. So what are we supposed to do as alternative other than go to Roku which doesn't make any sense for MS to drive people to a competitor. I don't think XB1 is different in this regard than XB360. I'd like to hear what other have to say.
  • This one feature is why I regret buying the Xbox One. You'd think something that was designed to be a media device for your living room would have a system video player that allows me to play from my media server over my network. Call it a first world problem, but when I'm using my Console, I want to watch my videos from my console, not mess around with my computer. Even the Windows/ Windows RT system video player allows me to play content from the network. I understand that Microsoft is unlikely to ever add the simple "system video player" feature to the Xbox One, for this reason I'm glad I still have my 360 (which has gotten WAY more use since Nov 22nd then my One) bcause they want me to pay for Xbox Video. My problem is Xbox Video is Way to overpriced. If Ms wants me to use it, the prices need to come down. I'd gladly pay for a subscription service like Xbox Music. $100/ year unlimited video streaming
  • I do hope they add the ability to browse movies via external hard drive and from servers too. I was a whs user but moved to 2012 server last year and have all my videos on there. I use my smart TV and 360 to watch videos depending on the room I'm in but would love it if my Xbox one could view the videos too (via the dash or an app).
  • Makes it really nice if you have a tablet like a surface! Basically a really awesome remote for the Xbox one.
  • It should be better than what they have in place. We need a PLEX app.
  • And my 4tb hard drive straps on the back nicely. It's much easier to plug direct into the Xbox one. But Microsoft are being all iTunes about it. Shame, they assume they are top, but they need to unleash these features to stay competitive.
  • I find it good, but it doesn't feel as good as full mirroring.
  • Is it any way to play movies from a USB Flashdrive ?
  • Not by directly plugging it into the Xbox One (at least not yet), but you could plug it into a PC or tablet on the same network and use the Play to option described in this article.
  • I miss being able to pull content to the Xbox without getting up and going to my computer room. It's not bad, but it's not as fully featured as the Xbox 360's System Media Player.
  • Completely agree. My office desktop computer is on a different floor in my house. Windows Media was great on my 360 to browse and play my content. Easy to "play to" from my laptop or surface, but my content on my desktop is what I need easy access to. Please fix this Microsoft!
  • +Infinity
  • Just run a transcoding media server, I use serviio, but twonky, plex, etc are also options. Then run a PlayTo/DLNA app on your phone. I use the phone app to pick what I want and it then plays on the Xbox one. Very similar to how it worked on the 360, except even easier because its on my phone and runs smoother. Will play pretty much anything, except HD content unfortunately :(.
  • Unfortunately transcoding solutions don't help those of us recording shows using CableCard tuners and  Media Center which have the copy protect flag. Streaming is the better solution.
  • Any suggestions on how to play files like .mkv? Windows Media Center doesn't recognize them as media files so I can't seem to use Play To. But I use Plex to transcode them and send them to any DLNA enabled device, such as my tv. However since Xbox One doesn't have a DLNA client I can't use anything to view the files on my XB1!
  • I want PLEX on the X1. I've never had any problems with mkv or anything else. From what I heard, mkv has issues with Play To
  • Install shark007 codec pack, makes MCE play mkvs just fine. Also I use the win8 devices charm to send video to the xbone, works great.
  • Playing different containers on MCE with sharks codecs can cause some issues. But they do work. Gabest’s Matroska Splitters combined with FFDshow is the best selection and my choice. But to enable viewing in MCE you need to add some registary lines. They can be found here along with links to codecs. Enjoy.
  • Extract the MP4 files from the MKV and don't worry about it anymore.  That's what I do.
  • I love streaming to the Xbox 360
  • Shouldn't be reliant on another PC to stream content to the xbone when the 360 could access media without needing a PC. Still a long way to go.
  • Would much prefer the ability to view network shares...using Play To is a pain if your PC with all your media on it is in another room, and you don't have a Windows tablet.
  • Not sure if it is dlna but I stream movies to my Samsung tv from my win8 on occasion using the right click, play to option. Super easy.
  • "The Digital Living Network Alliance was established in 2003 by Sony"   And yet those idiots took that out of the PS4 (at least last time i checked). Which is why I'm not buying one.   That said, yeah, I have Plex streaming to my PS3. Windows Media Player is ok but the restrictions to the formats it streams made it not an option. I'm happy with Plex. Plus, I have it across all my devices (PC, PS3, tablet and Nokia).
  • This is not an acceptable way to view your content, at all. The 360 had the capability to view content from a media server for so long that I forget when it was added. The one is not "the one" until it can do this at a minimum.
  • +360 :-)
  • Useless until Im able to pull files using XB1. My PC is downstairs, I can't be sending content using Play To, we need a basic app. Come on MS!
  • I wish it worked like it did on the 360. Playing music in the background and being able to browse my music library from the 360. Hopefully that's something they're working on because I tried 'Play To' and was not impressed.
  • I use it all the time from my surface but I really want the ability to browse to my nas and play direct.
  • I use my Sony Blueray player to play MKV from a nas
  • TLDR: luiislp - have u got a USB port on your router that reads a flashdrive..?
    Had a mild panic on Day One as we used the 360 to stream 99% of our media - System Media Player was/still is MIA & DLNA wasn't very visible - but, after a bit of googling / random app-trialling, we got it sussed! Currently; XBO ethernetted to BTHub5, which has ethernetted 2Tb WD MyBook, then using Linada / Nokia Device Hub Beta + myMediaHub on Nokia 920 (all free apps, haven't decided which way we prefer yet tho) to initiate the stream (automagically, via XBO Xbox Video app) to the TV. Feels like a hard slog after writing it out but works surprisingly well in practice! :) Plus no denying it's cool being able to use the voice commands - tho we would like the option to rechristen our XBO; "Jarvis*, pause!" :D (*middle son has just suggested Hal as perhaps more appropriate?!)
  • I been doing this sense day one, I got this solution from the Xbox support twitter account... But I missed the way the 360 did it
  • I've been using play to since I got my Xbox One and other then not playing my mkv files its been straight!
  • This is my favorite feature of the Windows Ecosystem second only to Xbox Live.  It's a shame too because it broke a few months ago and Microsoft wanted $80 to figure out what the problem was.  *sigh*
  • Until we can browse media on a computer from the xbox1, this system is a huge fail. I am not a gamer, and used to browse and play music from my 360 and play a slideshow of pics from my desktop at the same time. This lack of integrated functionality makes this system more of an Xbox "2". I don't see getting rid of my desktop for many years with space to setup raid drives and have better processing power and display for intensive photo and video editing. I have to switch to my BR player or my network receiver to browse my desktop libraries!
  • This is exactly how i do it on the xbox 360. Is this even available on the XB1?
  • Apparently not. This takes the cake for stupidest "upgrades" to a perfectly functional concept.
  • For who has the xb1 in a room, and the pc in another, I think this app could solve your problems Or just search DLNA (controller, remote, etc) on the store :)
  • I think the Play To thing is pretty underrated. I use it to stream movies thru Movie Planet. You could also use it with any media that you see thru the MODERN IE. Also NBC Sports app. It's a pretty handy feature and to be honest I could live without the DLNA thing. I barely use it as it is on my PS3. But I'm sure it would be useful for a lot of people.
  • i have used play with X360 since windows 8 came along, and i loved the feature. XB1 though broke it for me. i am getting a constant audio/video sync issues when i play content from apps on windows 8 devices. Youtube is a good example. Av out of sync in less then a minute.   i don't think its just me either. There is a forum post about this issue on xbone site.   anyone else has seen this issue?   svyatko
  • If you have trouble seeing your XBOX ONE, just restart the PC. That seems to always work for me. You could also restart your XBOX if that doesn't work.
  • I have some real issues with play to crashing and having to restart xbox. I try to play to from my lumia 920. :(
  • Get out with shitty news we already knew for ages. Post real news, or nothing. Not this crap
  • I want, no I demand, Miracast support! C'mon MS, you included support in Surface 2 and SP2...
  • I streamed a video from my PC to the Xbox one the other day. I had to open the Xbox video app, then go to the computer and hit the play to option on the video file. It worked great but if rather have a way for the Xbox to read my videos folder or something automatically to pcs that I add to it. That way the Xbox becomes the controller. can u stream video from windows phone to the Xbox1?
  • Your right, just like the 360 had. :-/
  • goes to show this is a MSFT product. If it was made by apple, it would go like this: Step 1) select stream to <anything>. done.
  • Shame you can't stream from the Xbox One to your DLNA device, i could really do with that option while the wife is on my PC/Xbox tv then i could use my 8.1 tablet to play my One. :-/
  • I set this up the first day I got the Xbox One.  It was one of the primary reasons I GOT an Xbox One, to begin integrating my media.  I don't use the Xbox One for games since my PC does and INFINITELY better job at it.  But the Xbox One is fantastic for becoming my central media hub for the house.  I stream from my laptops, PCs, Windows Phones, all to the Xbox One.  Awesome sauce.
  • Not sure if this is the case for the XBoxOne, but is/was for my 360. I've tried to setup my 360 to stream to/from my Surface Pro 2, and I've been told this is the reason (not actually tested).
    My router can use 2.5Ghz and 5Ghz for WiFi connections (I think it helps with overlapping access points and channel cross-overs). The 360 connects over 2.5Ghz whereas the Surface can connect over 5Ghz. This means that although both items are on the same network, they can't talk to eachother. Solution is to turn off the 5Ghz setting, or use a wired connection for at least the XBox.
  • I tested it and it works great, thanks for the heads up! Its still a pain that I have to go to my computer first but hopefully they'll add it into the Xbox One's interface soon, pleeeeeease! If Xbox does it, then it will force PS4 to do it, and/or if PS4 does it, it will force Xbox to do it. Someone has to do it! lol Once again, thanks wpc for the heads up, works great!
  • I appreciate people taking the time to write up solutions for this, but the 360 was functionally way more capable. Real shame. It scares me that I didn't get a warning or heads up in any of the reviews that I read.
  • Like so many on here, I really don't like the play to option. I have a NAS with a DLNA server on it. It worked great on the 360, but it sucks on the Xbox One. This is not surprising, Microsoft really want's to push Xbox Music and their cloud services. It worked with W7, but it doesn't work win W8, WP8, or on the Xbox One. I really do hope that Microsoft reverses course on this, but I doubt it.
  • The 360 was much better in terms of streaming. However, for those of you that want a more media center experience on One, I posted a thread awhile back on MediaBrowser 3 forums on how to use MB3 with Xbox One IE11:
  • What a joke! MSFT has this concept for the One, but does everything in it's power to flush it down the toilet. You can't add an external HDD or use NAS, what is 500 gig now days? Walk into the other room and send it from your computer. Welcome to the 20th century, or should we say MSFT vision for the future. "We want you to use our console for everything. As long as you pay us to use all of the features, and don't expect it to work with anything."
    I don't see them in talks with cable companies to allow streaming of cable or satellite via the console, no wait that's Apple...
    In other words here's a console to do everything, but in actuality it does nothing but play games at a marginally lower rate than it's competitor.
  • Here is a how to guide on setting up your PC and Xbox One to stream videos and Music
  • Thanks for the article Michael. Just want to inform all folks who live outside US that Xbox One is a great media Player. If you want to access Netflix and other streaming stations on your Xbox One you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.