How To: Stream videos and music with VLC

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VLC is just one of those apps that you can constantly discover new things about regardless of how much time you spend with them. The lightweight, open-source media player that supports everything can also be used to stream videos from your computer to a variety of other devices, including other computers. Previously, I had shown you how to play videos from YouTube and other network streams in VLC but now you will learn how to become a streamer yourself.

Set up VLC

To start with, go and sit at the computer you will stream the videos from. Hopefully that will be your main computer as streaming video requires some processing power from your PC and decent bandwidth from your network connection. The first thing we need is your local IP address. The easiest way to find that is to open a CMD (cmd.exe) window, type ipconfig and press Enter. Look for the “IPv4 Address” item and copy it down somewhere as you will need it later.

Once that is done, open VLC. Click on File > Stream or press Ctrl + S to open the set up window for the streaming. The window looks like your standard VLC file selection menu so just drag and drop your multimedia files in it or click on “Add” and browse your computer for your desired content. After you have added everything you want, click on the Stream button to continue.

VLC Open Media

At this point you should find yourself in the “Source” window where VLC will tell you about its setup wizard and how it can help you stream your content. The source field should already be filled out so just click on Next to continue. In the “Destination Setup” window, select “HTTP” from the dropdown list and click on Add. Note the port number (8080 by default) and click on Next.

VLC Destination Setup

The “Transcoding Options” window is a very interesting one because it allows VLC to play your files in pretty much any device you can think of. Not all devices support the same file types, especially if you are not going to use VLC to play the content. Whenever you want to stream something that is in an unsupported file format, all you have to do is choose a different one from the dropdown list and make sure that the “Activate Transcoding” box is checked. VLC will actively convert the file to something the targeted device supports so you can access all of your multimedia content without resorting to third-party conversion apps.

VLC Option Setup

Once you are ready, click on Next to get yourself to the final window of the setup process. In “Option Setup” users will get the option of “streaming all elementary streams”. Only select this option if you are streaming multiple files, especially when you have added subtitles to the mix. You can also choose to enable the option if your files are not playing in the targeted device. Make your choice and click on the Stream button to actually start streaming your content.

Play your content in another device

Now that your main computer is streaming content from VLC, it is time to set up the second device and start watching your videos or listening to your music there. To keep things simple, I will assume that you also run VLC in the secondary device for now. On PC, go to Media > Open Network Stream. On the mobile version, tap on the Open MRL option from the menu. In both versions of the app, all you need to do is type in the destination type and the local IP address we got in the first step of this post along with the :8080 suffix where “8080” is the port I mentioned in the Destination Setup window. In short, what you need to enter will look something like this, only replaced with your own items:


VLC Open Network Stream

Your content should be immediately available, provided that the information you entered was correct and that you followed the setup process steps closely. Note that you will not be able to use all playback controls as this is a live stream. If you want to rewind, for example, you will need to do it from the main PC where VLC is streaming from.

Extra tips

VLC Stream Camera

Now that you know the basics of VLC streaming, I highly suggest exploring additional options for your multimedia content. Here are some examples of what else you can do with VLC’s streaming tools:

  • Add subtitles: In the “Open Media” window at the very start, you may have noticed an option that reads “Use a subtitle file”. While the option is self-explanatory, the way it works may be missed by some people. You see, for the subtitles to be included you need to make sure they have the exact same names as the media files they are attached to. Your files should look something like “The Godfather.whatever” and “The” otherwise the subtitles will probably not work.
  • Stream and watch on your PC at the same time: If your setup can handle it, VLC lets you stream video and watch it on your computer simultaneously. To do that, select the “Display Locally” option in the Destination Setup window of your stream.
  • Stream from your webcam or desktop: In the Open Media window, click on the “Captured Devices” tab. Select your desired capture mode from the dropdown menu and then you can go through the regular stream setup options. Streaming from a webcam works pretty well but the other two options are a little more trouble than they are worth. For instance, you can easily choose to stream your desktop and though it may work fine sometimes, it will most likely crash all the time and hinder the experience for you.
  • Third-party apps: This guide uses VLC-to-VLC streaming as a main example but you are not actually limited to VLC in the targeted device. In fact, any application or service that supports network streaming also supports grabbing content from VLC. So any app that you have in your streaming box, for instance, can be used to grab content from VLC in almost exactly the same way. Just add the same address as you would normally and the apps should be able to pick everything up automatically.