We’ve already shown you how to cast your Android’s screen to Windows, but did you know it’s also possible to stream media content from your Windows machine to your Android device?
It’s a useful skill to know. There are lots of reasons why you might want to access Windows-based music and video on Android. Maybe you want to watch a film on your tablet in bed or listen to your vast music collection in another room.
You can approach the problem in a few ways, but some of them — like Chrome Remote Desktop — are app specific. In this article, I’m going to show you how to use VLC Media Player to access Windows-based media on your Android phone, regardless of which browser you’re using.
Note: Using this method will only work when your phone and computer are on the same local area network.
1. Download VLC
You’ll need two copies of VLC, one for your desktop PC and one for your Android device.
You can grab a copy of the desktop version from the official VLC website, but you will need to head to the Google Play Store to find the Android version.
You can follow the two download links below if you’re struggling.
2. Allow VLC to Operate in the Background
If you use your phone to listen to a lot of music on YouTube (and if you don’t subscribe to YouTube Red), you know how frustrating it is to be unable to listen to music in the background. If you exit the app, the tunes stop.
Using this VLC trick can negate those problems. Your music will keep playing even if you’re using another app on your device. However, before you can relax, you’ll need to change a setting on the mobile app.
Fire up the VLC app and tap on the three vertical lines in the top left-hand corner to open the app’s main menu. Next, click Preferences. Finally, mark the checkbox alongside Play videos in background.
3. Share Your Files
Now you need to return to your Windows machine and set up file sharing. The easiest way to share your files is to use the HomeGroup feature. If you’ve followed our guide that shows you how to turn off HomeGroup, you’ll need to turn it back on again.
If you’ve never used HomeGroups before, you need to create one before you go any further.
Create a HomeGroup
At the time of writing, the HomeGroup settings are still found in the Control Panel. Be aware that the feature will probably jump into the Windows 10 Settings app at some point in the future.
To access the settings, either open the Start Menu and type HomeGroup, or head to Control Panel > HomeGroup. Click Create a homegroup at the bottom of the window.
Windows will ask you what files and folders you want to share. Choose the appropriate content. If you only want to access videos and music on your Android, just enable those two options. Make sure you select Shared from the adjacent drop-down menus.
When you’re ready, click Next. Windows will spend a few seconds creating the HomeGroup. When it’s finished, it will give you a HomeGroup password. Click Finish to complete the setup process.
Grant Access to Your Phone
Now you’ve created a HomeGroup, you need to make sure your phone can access it.
When you’ve clicked Finish in the previous step, Windows should take you to the HomeGroup settings page.
At the top of the window, locate the section called Libraries and devices that you’re sharing from this computer, and click on Allow all devices on this network such as TVs and games consoles to play my shared content.
On the next Window, click on Allow all in the top right-hand corner. You can also give your HomeGroup an appropriate name. Click Next when you’re ready.
You might be prompted to decide what files you want to share for the second time. Eventually, you will end up back at the HomeGroup settings page. You’ll see a warning telling you that sharing is in progress, wait for it to disappear before continuing.
4. Play Content on Your Phone
Now you’re all set up on Windows, it’s time to return to your Android device.
Open the VLC app and click the three horizontal lines in the top left-hand corner. Choose Local Network from the pop-up menu.
You should see your HomeGroup listed as one of the options. You might see other devices depending what’s connected to your network. For example, in the image below, you can see VLC also discovered my Sonos system.
Click on the name of your HomeGroup, and you’ll see all the folders you’ve shared. Clicking on a folder will take you into the same tree as you see on your Windows machine. Just navigate through the folders until you find the music or video you want to play.
Because VLC is so powerful, it also supports M3U playlist formats. It means you can create playlists using your favorite desktop music player, then play them directly on your device. You won’t need to navigate to each track individually.
5. Access Your Screen Remotely
If you need to access more than your music and video files, the best solution is to use Chrome Remote Desktop. I touched on it in the introduction.
Obviously, you need to use the Chrome browser for this to work, but given it’s the default browser on your Android device, most of you probably already have it installed.
Setting the app up is easy. Below My Computers, click Get started then hit Enable remote connections. When prompted, create a PIN number.
Finally, open the app on your phone, tap on your computer’s name, and enter the PIN you just made.
Using Chrome Remote Desktop is not as efficient for watching videos and listening to music. You won’t have the mobile-centric controls that VLC offers. However, it does provide you with an easy way to access documents and software on your main machine if you’re away from home.
How Do You Cast Media to Your Android Device?
I’ve shown you how to access videos and music files on your Android device using nothing more than VLC Media Player. But, of course, other apps and methodologies achieve the same result.
Which apps do you rely on? You can share all your tips and suggestions in the comments section below.