How to Stream Videos from Your Computer to Your Smartphone with VLC

Stream Videos from Your Computer

If you have a lot of digital video sitting on your computer, it would be pretty nice if you could easily watch them on your smartphone or tablet from anywhere your WiFi will reach. In this guide, I’m going to show you how to stream videos from your computer to a smart device.

Preserved for Future Generations

In the age of Netflix, Hulu, and all the other online streaming providers it may seem strange that anyone would still keep a personal digital video collection. The truth is that shows can come and go on these services.

The truth is that shows can come and go on these services. Many older programs are simply never going to be available to begin with.

If you own an extensive collection of VHS, DVD and even BluRay media it makes sense to digitize them and copy them to a hard drive. We spend a lot of time watching things on our phones and tablet, but getting those files on there can be a tedious pain.

If you want to watch something, you want it now. Not an hour from now once you’ve figured out how to hook everything up and copy the files over. Then you realize that the format the video is in doesn’t work with any of the apps you have.

The creators of the essential VLC player have a solution to this that I love. It’s called VLC Streamer and is a paid app for Android and iOS with a free trial version to test out.

You Have The Power! (To Stream Videos from Your Computer)

VLC Streamer is a powerful little tool. With it, you can instantly stream videos from your computer over the local WiFi.

It also transcodes the file in real time using the CPU on the computer. It’s like having your own Netflix server. You can also copy the files wirelessly to your tablet or phone so you can watch it on the road.

Setting it up is so easy you guys. To demonstrate how it works I’m going to walk you through VLC Streamer and show you how to set it up. Here’s what we’ll be doing:

  • Installing VLC Helper
  • Installing the App
  • An Overview of Helper
  • An Overview of the App
  • Adding Content in Helper
  • Playing Movies in the App

Installing VLC Helper

To stream videos from your computer you need the helper software. It’s free, just head over to the download page and get it. We’ll come back to it in just a little while, but first we have to handle the smart device side of the equation.

Installing the App

Using the links I provided earlier, install the correct version of the app for your device. Go ahead and install the free version for testing purposes. There’s no point in spending the two bucks if thing don’t work out.

Now we’re ready to start streaming videos from your computer.

An Overview of Helper

When you open up the helper software you’ll notice four tabs:

  • Add Movies
  • Settings
  • Folders
  • File Getter

You can completely ignore the last one,  since it’s to do with another VLC app that has nothing to do with video streaming.

Under “Add Movies” you’ll find the main way to prepare videos for streaming. Here you can queue movie files and even DVDs. Set the quality you want to convert them at and let ’em rip. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, don’t bother with “advanced conversion setting”.

Stream Videos from Your Computer VLC Helper

Under “settings” there’s thankfully little to mess with as well. Here you can get a quick help reference bly clicking “show introduction” and check for updates.

Stream Videos from Your Computer VLC Helper

Under “folders” you can tick a box that automatically encodes movies that you drag into a specified folder. You can also change the location of the working folder where encodes are kept.

Stream Videos from Your Computer VLC Helper

An Overview of the App

When you first start up the app you’ll see a list of visible computers on the WiFi. If the helper is running, you should see your computer’s name listed. If not, refer to “connection help”

The app has quite a lot of adjustable settings. Too many to go through here. For most people, you won’t need to change anything and there are really good explanations built in if you want to explore.

If you tap on the name of your computer you’ll see a list of any movies you’ve already converted. At this point, we don’t have any, so let’s make one.

Adding Content in Helper

This could not be easier. All you do is drag the movies you want to convert into the little box labeled “drag movies here”. Just remember to set the quality correctly for your device and bandwidth.

In this case, I’m going to convert a DVD instead of a file. So I just click on “Add DVD”, select my DVD drive and open it.

You’ll see the disc start the conversion process straight away. Soon I’ll be watching Generation 1 Transformers on my iPad.

Stream Videos from Your Computer VLC Helper

Playing Movies in the App

When you go back to the app you should see the movie listed where there was none before. You don’t even have to wait for the conversion to finish before you start watching. You can stream videos from your computer right away.

Stream Videos from Your Computer VLC Helper

If you click the little arrow to the right of the file name you’ll see this menu that lets you copy the movie to the device itself.

Stream Videos from Your Computer VLC Helper

You don’t have to prepare movies on the helper program either. If you hit the big “add a movie” button at the bottom of the mobile app, you can explore the hard drive and get any movie to convert.

Genius Couch Potato

Stream Videos from Your Computer VLC Player

How easy was that? I love VLC Streamer and I think it’s well worth the asking price. Now all those old DVD and VHS rips can be enjoyed all over again.

What’s your preferred way to stream videos from your computer? Are you a VLC fan or do you prefer another solution? Let me know in the comments.


All Screenshots by Kees Friesland


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