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How To Play Your Content on the Xbox One

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In the rush to get the Xbox One on store shelves Microsoft seems to have left more than a few features out of its next-generation entertainment console. Though it’s possible that a few of those featured, Like Kinect Sesame Street, won’t be missed, there’s a growing number of users clamoring for the return of local video and audio playback.

Unlike the Xbox 360, the Xbox One seems to have no concept of what a USB storage device is. As such, users can’t simply load video or audio onto a flash drive and play it back on their television. Instead, Microsoft hopes that users will ditch local content playback for something it calls Play To. Essentially, Play To creates a direct connection between the computer a user has media playing on and the Xbox One itself.

Here’s how to play your content on the Xbox One using Play To.

In Windows 8.1

For users with a machine running Windows 8.1, streaming directly to the Xbox One is simple. Microsoft has integrated Play To functionality with the Charms Bar.

Go to the Start Screen on your Windows 8.1 or Windows PC by tapping the Windows Key on your keyboard or below your convertible’s display.

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Place your mouse cursor in the top right-hand corner of your display. Then click on the Settings Charms. It’s the charm represented by the cog at the bottom of the Charms Bar. You can also open the Charms by  swiping from right to left on your touchscreen equipped device.

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From inside the Settings Menu click Change PC Settings.

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Click or tap PC and Devices inside the settings menu

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Click or tap Devices.

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Click the arrow next to Add a Device. Turn your Xbox One on so that Windows 8.1 can find the it on your home network. Both devices will need to be on the same wireless network for Play to streaming to work.

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After Windows has finished setting up and testing the connection between the Xbox One, Which is called LIVINGROOM in our example, it’ll add the console to its list of devices that it can stream content to.

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Now whenever you’re playing media content on your Windows 8.1 device, you can send it directly to the Xbox One that’s connected to your television.

While your media is playing. Place your cursor in the right-top corner of your display or swipe from the right edge to the left edge of your display if you have a touch screen.

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Click or tap on the Devices Charm while your video is still playing.

Click or tap Play.

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Click or tap the name of the Xbox One your added to your Windows 8 installation earlier. By default all Xbox Ones will simply use XboxOne as their name.

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In Windows 7

Turn your Xbox One on.

Click the Start Button and select Control Panel from the Menu.

Win7-Start-Menu

Click or Add a Device under the Hardware and Devices Menu in the Control Panel.

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Select your XboxOne from the list of devices the Add a Device Wizard finds and click Next. Once the Wizard is done it’ll automatically close the window.

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Go to the Start Menu and open Windows Media Player.

With Windows Media Player open, select video or audio file from the navigation menu on the right hand side of the window.

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Right click on your song or video to reveal a drop down menu.

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Hover over the Play To option in the menu. Select your Xbox One from the list of devices available to stream to.

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You’ve successfully played your local content on the Xbox One. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to enable the functionality on computers running operating systems older than Windows 7. Play To streaming works on almost every file format that Windows understands natively. That includes WMV, MP4 and AVI.  Play To can also stream music on video from Windows Store apps as well. The Xbox One is on store shelves right now, for $499.

Travis Pope is a Reporter-at-large for GottaBeMobile. He's currently enjoying a romp in the dangerous quicksand that is Microsoft's Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox ecosystem.

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