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How To Play Your Own Media Files to Google Chromecast

The latest rage for home entertainment systems is Google’s $35 Chromecast. The company hopes it will be the new living room entertainment device of the future. One thing it’s not designed to do is stream non web-based content. But with an extension and a little know how, you can stream your local files to it.

Out of the box the Chromecast allows you to send YouTube, Netflix, and music, TV, and movies from Google Play. Compared to the Roku, Apple TV, or Xbox 360, it currently doesn’t have much to offer. But here’s some ways to get more content to your HDTV via the Chromecast.

After you set up Chromecast on your Android device you’ll have the option to download apps that allow you send content to Chromecast.

Stream to Chromecast

Stream Local Media from Your PC to Chromecast

Install the Google Cast extension in your Chrome browser. Then start playing the video or music file you want to stream in the browser.

Yes! You can play media file types directly in Chrome. There’s a couple ways to do it actually. Either drag drop the file into the address bar. Or open a new tab in Chrome and hit Ctrl + O (or Command  + O on a Mac) and browse to the media file you want to play.

In my tests I’ve been able to play MPEG, MPG, MP4, M4V, OGG, MP3, and AVI files. I tested several MKV files, and the video would stream, but without sound. No love for FLAC files either.

Open in Chrome

If the media plays in the Chrome browser, click the Google Cast button and send it to your HDTV.

Browser to Chromecast

Here’s and example of streaming an MP3 file.

MP3

You can even stream compatible media files from Google Drive.

Google Drive

The quality of the stream will depend on the state of your WiFi router and amount of traffic on the network. If you’re having streaming problems, change the options to a lower quality setting. Or, if things are streaming well, you can increase the quality – up to 720p only though.

Quality

You’ll also want to make the video display in full screen mode so it displays larger on your HDTV. Otherwise it displays in at a smaller aspect ratio which isn’t that great for viewing.

Large Screen

Then hit Esc to exit full screen. In this example I’m streaming a video from my home server which is cool that you can stream from network locations too.

Exit for Full Screen

Conclusion

A few more things to note about the Chromecast. While all the images of it give the impression you simply plug in the stick in to an HDMI port on your TV, you also have to connect it to a power source. It comes with the power cord that connects like a smartphone. This is kind of annoying in my opinion, but doesn’t necessarily make it a deal breaker.

Chromcast contents

I was considering giving the device a mediocre review until I discovered this workaround for streaming local media. In fact, a lot of the media I tested for this article I streamed directly from my Windows Home Server. It’s also worth noting that there’s an app for your iPhone or iPad and it seems to work as advertised.

Chromecast iOS App

Still, there is a lot of room for improvement with this new device. If you already have a Roku or Apple TV that you already use as your set-top box, there’s not much of a reason to get the Chromecast unless you’re like me, a cord cutter, and want another toy to watch videos and listen to music.

Are you using a Chromecast? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about it.

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9 Responses to How To Play Your Own Media Files to Google Chromecast

  1. Diablo September 10, 2013 at 4:17 am #

    This doesn’t work for me – when I drag it to the address bar/open the file it seems to download it rather than playing it. Would be good if it worked though…

    • Jun February 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

      Did you try and right click the video file and play the video file on google chrome then cast it?

      • Paul February 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

        Sorry Jun, I think I may have missed a step. Did you suggest that I right click and play to Chrome? Is that in the ‘open with’ options? I can’t see how I can do that.

        Thanks for your advice

  2. Brian Burgess September 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    @Diablo: that actually happened to me a couple of times, but only when I was trying to play files that aren’t compatible.

  3. dubluv September 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    streaming video from my pc to chromecast didin’t work for me either. when copied into the address bar of chrome, it simply started downloading it back to my pc

    • Eric September 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      It plays pdf.,mp3′s and mp4′s great but avi…no…mkv…no..divx…no is there an extension for Chrome I’m missing or what? This thing is cool and easy and when it works it’s great but man does not live on one format alone.

      • Eric September 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

        Brian, I gottta say, you come up as a go to guy on the chromecast…and you and others have said avi and other files are playable yet, I can’t get these to work. I have asked if there is an extension or a add on or whatever you want to call it, I just want a path to follow. Like I said the unit works great…as directed…its these loophole directions that seem to be misdirecting me…

  4. Diablo September 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    I don’t get a visual when I play some mp4s, only audio.

    I reduced the bit rate to the lowest setting but does seem to make a difference. Is this as good as it gets? Netflix, YouTube and some mp4s? Little underwhelmed…

  5. robertdiligente March 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    i know a software called idealshare vdieogo which can easily helps me to convert all kinds video like mkv, avi, mp4, mov, flv and etc to chromecast supported format.

    then i can easily stream the converted local video from computer to chromecast for play on tv by the following way:

    Install Google Chrome Cast Extension
    Open chrome or a new tab, and then connect your chrome browser to Chromecast
    Drag and drop the video/audio file you want to play into the Chrome browser
    Click the browser extension and select “Cast this tab

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