Streaming pictures, video and music using Play

Make your photos, music and videos a bigger and louder extension of your PC by streaming them directly to your TV or speakers. For example, flip through your holiday snaps while they stream from your PC to the TV. At the same time, play your favourite music to your speakers to make your slideshow presentation even more special. Or, use Internet Explorer 11 to stream content like your Facebook photos or YouTube videos.

Get set up

Depending on what you already have set up, you might be ready to stream. For example, if you have an Xbox 360 on a home network and you chose the express settings when you first set up your PC, you might be ready to stream. In other cases, you might need to set up or change your network and connect compatible devices.

Show all

Make sure your network is set up

Here are some considerations about making sure your network is ready.

Home network. You'll need to have a home network set up. Though it’s not strictly required, using a wireless router that you connect all your devices to might be best. For more information, see Setting up a wireless router.

HomeGroup. While it's not a requirement, belonging to a homegroup can make it easier to share between your TVs, speakers and PCs. When you set up a PC with Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, a homegroup is created automatically. If a homegroup already exists on your home network, you can join it. For more information, see HomeGroup from start to finish.

Sharing. Turning sharing on lets your PC connect to devices on the same network. You might already have turned sharing on when you first set up your PC or when you first connected to your network. If you're not sure, you can check that it's on.

To turn on sharing for your network

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the bottom-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click Network, tap or click the network name, then turn on Find devices and content.

Use compatible devices

Several manufacturers offer devices that provide a great streaming experience. Other manufacturers don’t always advertise that their devices are compatible, yet many people report a great experience with them. If you’re looking for a new device or want to know more about device compatibility, make sure that you look through both the Windows Compatibility Center and the Windows Certified Products List. It’s not always simple to know ahead of time if you can stream to a specific device, so doing some research before you start can help minimise frustration later.

Here are more considerations about compatible devices.

  • A simple way to start streaming is through an Xbox 360. When you choose the device to stream to, select the Xbox 360 rather than the devices connected to it.

  • Many devices with DLNA certification will work with Play. However, a device with this certification logo doesn’t by itself mean you can stream to it. Make sure that the specs for the device say it has a Digital Media Renderer (DMR) certification.

  • If you're going to stream directly to a TV or speakers, follow the instructions the device manufacturer provides to connect the device to your network. In many cases, this is as simple as connecting the device to your router with an Ethernet cable. Once you connect a device to your network and have sharing turned on, Windows should automatically find the devices that work with Play.

    To see your connected devices

    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, then tap Change PC settings.
      (If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, then click Change PC settings.)

    2. Tap or click PC and devices, then tap or click Devices.

    3. You'll see the devices you can stream under Play.

      There are some limited cases in which a device that works with Play doesn’t appear there. Reasons for this vary. Check with the manufacturer, the Windows Compatibility Center and the Windows Certified Products List to make sure the device is compatible. If you’re certain your device is compatible, but it isn’t listed in Devices, you might need to add it manually or fix a different problem. For more information, see Adding, removing and managing your devices and printers and Tips for solving problems with Play.

Starting streaming

You can stream from the Photos, Music and Video apps built into Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1. Or, you can use other media apps, but they need to support Play. To stream from the web, use Internet Explorer 11. (You can't stream from Internet Explorer 11 for the desktop.)

  1. Open what you want to stream with an app.

  2. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Devices.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Devices.)

  3. Tap or click Play, then choose the Play device you want to use.

    Windows shows only devices that can play the type of content you’ve selected. If you don't see your device listed, you can tap or click Add a device to try adding it manually.

If you want to stream media from File Explorer, tap or click what you want to stream. On the Play tab in the Play group, tap or click Play, then select the device in the list.

Streaming content from File Explorer by selecting the content, choosing Play To in the menu and selecting an available device

Note

  • There’s a lot of content you can stream from your personal media collection, such as the music and films that you’ve made, music you legally own and your own photos. Copyright laws prohibit streaming and broadcasting certain content, such as commercially produced video. If you’re legally allowed to share it, Windows lets you stream it.

Controlling what’s streaming

Once your content starts playing, you can use the controls in the app or web page. You can also use the controls on your PC.

For example, use the volume buttons on your PC to open controls that let you change the volume, pause and play, or go forward or back. If you’re playing more than one thing from your PC, tap or click the right arrow to switch between the controls for each. Tap or click the app icon to go to that app. The controls are available even when your PC is locked.

Controls that change the volume, pause and play, or go forward or back for the content that's currently playing

If you’re streaming through an Xbox 360 with Kinect, you can use voice and gesture commands.

Note

  • Speech recognition and voice commands aren't available in all languages for Xbox 360 with Kinect.

To stop streaming

You can stop streaming without interrupting the content playing on your PC.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Devices.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Devices.)

  2. Tap or click This PC.

Need more help?