How to Use "Play to" and "Remote Media Streaming" in Windows 7

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There are a couple of new features in Windows 7 that help you liberate the multimedia content from your PC and stream it to other devices around your home. You can even stream to your laptop no matter where you are in the world – all you need is an internet connection to do so. The two features that enable these capabilities are “Play to” and “Remote Media Streaming.” Since they both do similar things, you may be confused as to how to turn each feature on or configure its settings. But the steps are actually quite simple, just follow the instructions below.


“Play to” is the feature that lets you stream media like music, photos, and videos from your Windows 7 PC to other devices connected to your home network. These can include audio/video systems, other PCs, your Xbox 360, and more. (The Digital Lifestyle blog started a wiki of supported devices – feel free to add to it!)

The “Play to” feature is not enabled by default – you have to switch it on.

Here’s how:

  1. Before you can use “Play to” you have to turn on Media Streaming. Launch Windows Media Player and make sure it’s displaying your library, not playing a file.
  2. Click the “Stream” button at the top and then click “Turn on Media Streaming”
  3. In the window that appears, click the “turn on media streaming” button and click “OK”
  4. Once enabled, you can access “More streaming options” from WMP’s “Stream” menu where you can configure options like the media library’s name, which devices to show, and which devices are allowed to access your shared media.
  5. If adding other Windows 7 PCs, you’ll need to go to the destination PC and select “Allow Remote Control of My Player” from the “Stream” menu in order for them to show up in the “Play to” list.
  6. Now that you have the other devices on your network configured to receive media, you can go back to your WMP and click on the “Play” tab at top-right. Look for this button:


  7. Click the button and in the window that appears, choose the device on your network you want to send the media to.

To see “Play to” in action, check out this great demo from the Windows 7 launch in New York City.



Remote Media Streaming is the feature that lets you stream media from your Windows 7 PC to your own internet-connected PC, even when you’re outside your home network.

Here’s how to set this up:

  1. If you haven’t already done so, you need to turn on Media Streaming as described in step #1 above.
  2. In WMP, click on the “Stream” menu and choose “Allow Internet Access to Home Media”
  3. For security purposes, you’ll now need to configure an online ID which will be used to access your media from the internet. In the window that appears, click on “Link an online ID”.
  4. On the next screen, choose “add an online ID provider” to link an online ID to your Windows account:add_online_id
  5. You’ll be directed to a webpage where you can download the Windows Live ID sign-in assistant in either the 34 or 64-bit version. Download the appropriate version for your PC and then click the .msi file to install it.
  6. Install the software, first accepting the license agreement, then click “Next” and “Finish.” (You’ll also need to click “Yes” on the User Account Control dialog box that appears)
  7. When installation is complete, return to the “Link online ID” window and click on the “WindowsLiveID” provider that now appears in the list:windowsliveID
  8. Click on the “Link online ID” hyperlink and fill in your Windows Live ID info in the box that appears. You’ll now be signed into Windows Live.
  9. After signing in is complete, return to the window and click “OK” to close it.
  10. Now you can return to the “Stream” menu in Windows Media Player and continue setting up Internet access to your media. Again, click on “Stream” and choose “Allow Internet Access to Home Media”
  11. Click on “Allow Internet access to home media” again in the next window that appears.
  12. Click “Yes” on the User Account Control (UAC) dialog box when it pops up.
  13. Click “OK” on the “success” window to finish.



To access the media library on a home computer from your laptop when you’re traveling, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. You first have to associate your Windows Live ID on the remote computer in the same way as you did on your home computer (as described above).
  2. After that’s complete, launch Windows Media Player on your laptop and look for the Player Library for your home computer listed under “Other Libraries” in the navigation pane.
  3. After clicking on this library, you’ll now have access to the media stored on your home PC. In the background, the WMP software connects to the home computer using SSL and the connection is verified using digital certificates to identify which libraries can be accessed. The experience, however, is simply that where your remote library is shown at the same time as your local one is.

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