If you have a Chromecast, you very likely have Plex, or a similar app installed on both your desktop and your Android phone. Plex is hands down the best app for streaming media to the Chromecast. It’s mobile apps act as excellent remotes for playing media but if you’re looking for a super simple, zero set-up solution for browsing media files on any device on your network and playing them over Chromecast, Plex isn’t what you’re looking for. The solution lies with VLC player and the Beta version of its Android app. Here’s what you need to do.
In order to browse media files on your network you need an app that can search for and browse files on network locations. You also need an Android phone that natively supports casting i.e. you must be running Android 4.4.2 or above.
The VLC Player app as mentioned earlier is in Beta so in order to download it, you will have to join the Beta program and become a tester. The stable version of the app in the Google Play Store does not have this feature just yet. Make sure the Beta version is 1.9.0.
Once you have the app on your phone, open it and open the navigation drawer. Tap the ‘Local Network’ option and wait as the app populates a list of every device, PC or Server, on your network. You can see from the screenshots below that the app recognizes a Plex server as well as PCs that do not have server apps running on it.
Tap the PC or server you want to connect to. You might be prompted to enter the login and password for that device after which you can navigate to and choose whichever file it is you want to play.
With the file ready to play, all that’s left is to cast it. Pull down the notification area and tap the ‘Cast’ button. Native support for Chromecast means that it will automatically recognize media is playing and cast it perfectly to your TV or monitor. Other than needing the Beta VLC app, you don’t need to set anything up on your computer. You can walk into a friend’s house, connect to their WiFi network, and start casting media from their computer to their TV/monitor with just your phone.