Using the Play To feature to stream media

You can use the Play To feature to stream video, music, or picture files stored on your computer to a separate playback device on your home network. That device could be another computer, TV, or stereo connected to your network. You can use the Play To feature in Windows Media Player or anywhere you store media files on your computer.

Picture of a Play button Watch a demo:‌ Windows 7 Play To demo.
Picture of the Play To dialog box
Play To dialog box

Although it's easy to use Play To—you manage what you stream in a single dialog—you must already have a network set up, the correct hardware, and media streaming turned on before you can play media on other devices.

Set up your network and media devices

Before you can use Play To, you need the following hardware and software:

  • A wired or wireless private network.

  • Either another computer on your network running Windows 7 or a device known as a digital media receiver (sometimes called a networked digital media player). Digital media receivers are hardware devices connected to your wired or wireless network that you can control using your computer.

    Notes

    • You must allow remote control on another computer before you can stream media to it. For more information on allowing remote control and other streaming settings, see Change settings for streaming media in Windows Media Player.

    • When you stream music to a digital media receiver, you might not be able to switch tracks using controls on the device itself or the remote control that came with the device.

For more information about setting up devices on your network, see Add a device or computer to a network.

Turn on streaming

Your computer needs to detect suitable playback devices on your network before you can use Play To to stream media. That means media streaming must be turned on, if you haven't already done so. To turn on media streaming on your home network in Windows Media Player, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player.
    If the Player is currently open and you’re in Now Playing mode, click the Switch to Library button Picture of the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the Player.
  2. Click Stream, and then click Turn on home media streaming.

    Turn on home media streaming won't be available on the Stream menu if streaming is already turned on.

  3. In Media streaming options, click Turn on media streaming. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  4. Click OK.

For more information about how to use media streaming, see Stream your media to devices and computers using Windows Media Player.

Use Play To in Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player makes it easy to manage your media, find items that you want to play, and open Play To. To select items that you want to play, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player.
    If the Player is currently open and you’re in Now Playing mode, click the Switch to Library button Picture of the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the Player.
  2. If the list pane is closed or if the Burn or Sync tabs are exposed, click the Play tab.

  3. Find the items that you want to play in the Player Library, and then drag those items from the details pane into the list pane.

  4. Click the Play to buttonPicture of the Play to button at the top of the list pane, click the device on your network that will receive the media.
  5. In the Play To dialog box, use the playback controls to play, pause, or stop the media stream, and to change to the next or previous item in the list.

    For more information about the Play tab, the list pane, and playback controls, see Getting started with Windows Media Player.

Use Play To elsewhere in Windows

Outside of Windows Media Player, you can stream media with Play To by right-clicking files. To select media files and stream them to another device, follow these steps:

  1. Click the files you want to stream to another playback device.

  2. Right-click the selected files, point to Play to, and then click the device on the network that will receive the media.

  3. In the Play To dialog box, use the playback controls to play, pause, or stop the media stream, and to change to the next or previous item in the list.

Manage items in the Play To dialog box

You can add or remove items from the list in the Play To dialog box and change the order in which items play.

  • To add an item, drag it into the Play To dialog box.

  • To remove an item, right-click the item, and then click Remove from list.

  • To shift an item in the list, drag the item up or down in the list.

  • To clear the list of all items, click Clear List.