How to Stream From VLC to Your Chromecast

VLC’s developers have been working on Chromecast support for some time, and it’s finally available in version 3.0…at least on Windows. That means now, you can stream video and audio files from VLC media player on your PC to your Chromecast.

Warning: even though this feature is in the stable version of VLC, it can be finicky. Some people report it works perfectly for them, while others report it doesn’t and has problems with certain types of media files. Your experience may vary, but it’s worth trying to see if it works for you—and it should only get better over time.

What You’ll Need

This feature is currently only available in version 3.0 of VLC for Windows, so you’ll need a Windows machine and an up-to-date version of VLC to continue.

Oh, and of course you’ll need a Chromecast device, or an Android TV device like the NVIDIA SHIELD (because they can accept Chromecast-standard streams, too), or a television that uses Android TV as its software (like one of Sony’s newer TVs). The Windows machine you’re using to stream needs to be on the same local network as your Chromecast device, wired or wireless.

How to Cast Video From VLC

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the appropriate version of VLC, you can get started. First, ensure your Chromecast and your television are on.

You won’t find a “Cast” icon in VLC–at least, not at the moment. To find your Chromecast, you’ll need to click Playback > Renderer > Scan in 4.0. If your Chromecast already appears in the menu, click on it in the list.

Open a video file in VLC and click the “Play” button. Use the Media > Open File menu or just drag and drop a video file from your file manager onto the VLC window.

After you try to play the video, you’ll see an “Insecure site” prompt. Click “View certificate” to view your Chromecast’s security certificate.

Click “Accept Permanently” to accept your Chromecast’s certificate.

The video file should immediately begin playing on your Chromecast after you agree, with your Chromecast streaming the file from the VLC player on your computer. Use the controls in the VLC window to pause, fast forward, rewind, and otherwise control playback.

That’s a VLC video running ob the SHIELD via Chromecast.

When you try streaming in the future, you’ll just need to use the Playback > Render menu to scan and connect. Afterwards, you can play video files without accepting the certificate prompt again.

Again, this feature is still in development. When I tested it on my PC and SHIELD, the video was playing back with a lot of missed frames and audio de-synced by about a second. At the time of writing, pretty much any other way to play back video would be better, for example, loading local media up on a flash drive and playing it back via a smart TV or set-top box.

Help, It Didn’t Work!

Having problems? This feature may just need some more time in the oven.  If this VLC feature doesn’t work well for you at the moment, try another way to watch local video files on your Chromecast.

Specifically, there’s an easy way to stream your computer’s desktop video to a Chromecast using Google Chrome’s built-in casting tool. To start it, open Chrome to any website, then click the Chromecast icon, or click the Menu button and click “cast.”

Select the drop-down menu next to “Cast to,” then change the source from the Chrome tab to “Cast Desktop.” Then select your Chromecast or Android TV device.

Once Chromecast is broadcasting the whole screen, just open VLC and play your video in fullscreen. Note that, because Chromecast’s video streaming protocol is focused on speed rather than quality, the video quality will be much lower than in the steps above.

If you’d like to downgrade back to a stable version of VLC, visit VLC’s homepage, download the current stable build, and install it.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.