Stream music and movies in your local network using VLC player

Streaming media in local networks provides a more controlled, customizable, and often more efficient way to enjoy your digital content, such as those large media files like HD movies. For example, when your computer is loaded with all kinds of media files, you may want to play them on your phone or tablet. Fortunately, there are various methods or apps that can help us achieve that. We can use media server software like Plex, Emby; Both Mac and Windows support SMB which allow us to share files and access them from other devices in the network; Many NAS devices come with built-in media server capabilities. We even found the media streaming feature with some free media players, VLC is a good one.

VLC player is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player that can play almost all major video and audio files. It can also help you stream music and videos from computer to other computers or mobile devices in a local network or even the internet. To stream media files in your home network using VLC player is very straightforward. You can firstly broadcast a stream in VLC player on your computer, then connect to the stream using VLC player on another computer or mobile phone in the same network.

vlc media player logo

Part 1. Setup music and video streaming on your computer

Download VLC app above. Install the free media player on your computer. Then use it to play the music files and/or movies you like to stream to make sure they are playable using this player.

Click Media menu from the top left corner, select Stream from the drop-down menu. The Open Media dialogue opens where you can select local music files and movies and add to VLC player to stream them. Hit the Add button to load the media file from your computer hard drive to VLC. After that click the Stream button to proceed to the ‘Set up media sources to stream‘ pane. Press Next button to continue.

add media file to stream in vlc for windows

The Destination Setup screen shows up. VLC can use a variety of protocols for streaming. We recommend the video/audio streaming via HTTP as it is easier to setup and also easier for other computers or mobile devices to connect to the stream broadcasting computer.

http streaming setup 1 - vlc for windows

Select HTTP as the new destination and click the Add button. You will then find the options to customize the HTTP streaming settings. You can change a different HTTP port or specify a custom path in the HTTP address URL. These are optional. You can leave them to the default without any change.

http streaming setup 2 - vlc for windows

VLC can automatically transcode your video or audio to lower quality for fast streaming speed and saving your network bandwidth. For media streaming in your local network, you do not need to activate the transcoding option, unless the video file to stream is very big.

stream output activate transcoding in vlc for windows

Click Next button to continue to the Option Setup screen. You do not need to change anything here, just hit the Stream button to start streaming from your PC.

Part 2. Connect to media stream on another device

You can watch the stream from another computer, smartphone or tablet. To connect to the streaming server on a different computer. Install and run VLC on the computer, click Media button, then select Open Network Stream from the drop-down list. The Open Media dialogue opens where you can enter the network streaming URL with the port number. Click the Play button to start playing the audio/video stream.

If you want to connect to media stream from computer on an Android or iOS device, download the VLC player for mobile on your device. For Android users, whenever you want to stream a media file from your PC to your Android phone, launch the VLC player on your phone. Touch to open its side menu and select “Stream”. Enter the network streaming address to start playing the stream.

Part 3. More media streaming options for Windows

Except VLC, you can actually make use of the Windows Media Player to turn your computer into media server, then access the photos, videos and music on the media server from other computers and devices. If your smartphone comes with the apps that can access media servers to fetch and play content from it, you do not even need VLC player or any other third party streaming apps. Additionally, both Mac and Windows support SMB which allow us to share files and access them from other devices in the network.

Stream videos, music from Windows

Windows comes with a set of public folders, C:\Users\Public\Music, C:\Users\Public\Pictures, C:\Users\Public\Videos, etc. You can put any media files, movies, videos, music, audio tracks, into the Public folders so other users sharing the same computer or other devices on the network can access files stored in them.

Also the built-in file sharing in Windows can help us share or stream media files from PC to other computers or devices in the same network. Just make sure to turn on network discovery and enable file sharing first, then copy the movies, videos, music songs you like to share or stream to a folder, finally right click on the folder to access its Properties window and share it with Everyone.

Stream videos, music from PC to iPhone

If you are using a Mac, you can share files between your Mac and iPhone via AirDrop. Windows users can setup the file sharing to share or stream media files to iPhone or other mobile phones. Check out this guide to share & stream files between PC and iPhone via Windows File Sharing. Basically you turn your PC into a file server, and use the stock file manager, the Files app, to access your PC from iPhone and share or stream files between them.

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