Questions about watching movies from my computer on my tv

After you’ve finished pointing and laughing, can someone please explain - verrrrry slowwwwwly- how I can accomplish this (it is possible, isn’t it?) Someone at work loaned me a drive with Game of Thrones (I know, more pointing and laughing) and I was too embarrassed to tell him I have no idea what to do with it. Does it plug right into my tv? Is that what the “components” option is for in the input menu? Do I somehow have to get it onto my own computer first? I do have wifi, a “smart” tv (it’s a helluva lot smarter than its owner) and Roku. I’d be so grateful if any of you smarties could walk me through this.
Thanks!:slight_smile:

Do you have an HDMI port on your computer? If so, then you can plug your computer into your TV via an HDMI cable, and use your TV as another monitor.

Right. After you plug in the HDMI, open your video card’s control panel, go to the tab for setting up multiple displays, and fool around with it until your TV screen shows the exact same thing as your monitor.

Note: you may have to unplug any computer speakers or earphones to get sound on the TV.

Also note that HDMI cables can be massively overpriced. Shop around before you buy one.

If your smart TV has a USB input you might be able to plug the drive directly into the TV and bypass your computer all together.

If your computer is a bit slow it’s advised that after you get it almost all the way set up to run, you tell it to display on TV only and then do the final “play” clicks afterwards. Displaying on two monitors at once is too much for some computers to handle.

On the other hand, if your TV is new enough and has a USB port, you may just possibly be able to natively play the files directly by plugging the USB drive in there. This is fairly rare but worth a shot.

A peripheral such as a PS3 can also play some videos. Plug the stick in there and try it out by navigating to the video menu. When you get to the USB stick option in that menu and it says there’s no files, hit the triangle button to bring up a side menu and select “display all” to display the files and choose from them. Just like the TV though the PS3 may not be able to play them natively.

Finally, HDMI is your best choice from PC to TV but AVI may be necessary if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port. I would need to know about your setup and what ports your PC and TV has at this point.

Do you have a Blu-ray player? It might also have a USB stick option. Which Roku model do you have? It looks like some of them also have a USB slot.

Smart TVs should have a USB input. After you plug it in, the Smart TV should prompt you. It’s “smart” :slight_smile: This is what my Samsung Smart TV does. I’ve had to finagle with TV audio settings a bunch to make it work for movies from thumb drive.

Other options have been mentioned. You can also cast it from Google Chromecast (if you have one), an Amazon fire stick? chromecast equivalent.

“Component” inputs are the kind that have 3 connections, red, blue, green for video only. This was the next step up from RCA inputs (red and white). These have now been surpassed by DVI and HDMI. And now my laptop only has display port which I am not a fan of.

Some of what has been said may have buzz words you are not used to. If that’s the case, please let us know. Nobody’s born knowing them. If you need some help in that area, read the following. I’m not trying to dumb it down, just get you started if needed.

The USB is a rectangular hole or silver metal about the height of half a Kit-Kat and the size of a your little finger. The drive’s USB would have a flat plat in the end of the silver metal, so when you plug it in and it doesn’t seem to fit, turn it over and see if that works.


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The HDMI is a little wider. The hole (port) in the computer often has a notch in it, maybe two notches, matching the notches on the cable.


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The HDMI is great because it sends the picture And sound to the TV so that you don’t have to use PC speakers.
Be sure you have this HDMI on the PC and the TV. If not, we can suggest other methods.

First, plug the USB into your computer.
On your desktop should be a Computer icon. Double-click that.
The window that opens shows your hard disk ( C: ) - and should show one or more extra “Devices with Removable Storage”.
The one that says “DVD RW Drive” or “CD RW Drive” is your DVD/CD drive.
Another one should be something like “USB Disk” and have a letter with a colon after it.
Double click that “USB” one.
Windows Explorer opens and shows you the files on the USB.
Let us know what kinds of files are shown. The file extension after a period is the important part (.avi, .mpg, .fob, etc.)
Double click one of those and see if it plays.

Windows computer have Windows Media Player. That will hopefully take the movie and just work. There are other ones (like VLC) which we can suggest that you get to play movies better.

Now, the movie is playing on the PC screen and you want to put it on the TV. Let us know what version of Windows you have (or ask how to figure that out). I’ll assume WIndows 7 and hope for a match.

First, plug that HDMI cable into the PC and the TV.
Then go to the PC desktop screen background.
Right-click on an empty spot and a menu will come up.
Left-click “Screen Resolution”.
The display needs to show two simulated ‘screens’ named 1 and 2. It should find the TV because the cable was plugged in.
Fourth in the list is “Multiple Displays”. Choose “Duplicate these displays” or - more fun - “Extend these displays”.
When you have the movie playing on your PC screen then left-click and hold down the button on the movie screen’s title bar.
Drag the movie to the right and it will slide off the PC screen onto the TV screen. Always fun to watch.
The sound should be going through the computer’s HDMI cable to the TV speakers.

That’s all for now. Let us know if there’s any glitches or I didn’t explain something well.

I use a 25’ HDMI cable and keep it hooked up to the tv, and right near my laptop.

If you go this route, cables can be had cheaply on monoprice.com or ebay. You don’t need an expensive cable. 10’ is less than $5 on ebay.

Youse guys are the best! My tv does indeed have a usb port (though I’m not exactly sure where it is; my tv is mounted on the wall so this might be a challenge). I’ll be checking all this out a bit later but wanted to check in and say thanks for everyone’s help. I have no doubt I’ll have more questions but at least I have a starting point.
I think I’ll probably want to download it onto my computer(?) so I can get the person’s drive back to them. I *assume *that’s what they expect me to do anyway(???) because I doubt they want me to keep it for as long as it’s going to take me to watch it all. Merci, danke and gracias!

There can be problems with a USB port.

For one thing on some older TVs (like my parents) the USB port is only good for pictures and music. You cannot transfer video files using it.

Also not all video formats will work on all smart devices. mp4 is a generally well accepted format, but there are dozens of formats for digital video. If you transfer the files to a USB drive and plug it into the computer, the computer may not recognize the files.

I’ve personally had issues where the video files were too large and the PS3 didn’t recognize them. Even though they were mp4 format, and even though they were used on a PS3 which can read mp4, the file resolution was too high. So there are a lot of caveats with using a USB stick. Maybe you don’t have a USB port on your TV or on a gaming device or blu ray player. Maybe you don’t have the video files in the right format. Maybe your TV doesn’t accept video files via usb. Maybe the video files are too high resolution. etc.

HDMI is easy. For me there is no screwing around with control panel, the TV automatically displays the computer screen after I switch the input to HDMI.

If you have a gaming console, blu ray player, etc. those may also have a USB port you can use.

Many laptops now have functions like widi to wirelessly transfer videos. I have problems with those myself.

HDMI is likely the best bet.

I agree that USB is crapshoot and it will most likely not work due to file format and codec issues. If this is just a one off situation and you want to watch a few files, then using an HDMI cable would be the simplest solution, although not the most elegant.

If you’re going to be doing this on a regular basis and don’t want to bother with cables, or move your pc every time you want to watch a movie, I would go with a streaming solution using dlna so you can browse media files on your pc from the comfort of your living room, (or wherever you have your TV). If you disclose the make and model of your TV and Roku, I can give you specific details on how to set it up.

Okay, I’m back with *many *questions. I’m not able to locate the usb port right now; will have to wait til daylight / take the tv off the wall. Damn my old eyes! I have plugged the drive into my computer and can see the files. Do I download them? If so, to where? I mean, I get the basic concept of downloading stuff, but do I, for instance, just put them on my desktop? Does it matter? Then, assuming I accomplish that (*big assumption *people) I assume I need to connect my laptop to my tv via hd cable you all have mentioned? I guess what I’m asking is, does the “thing” , whether it be my laptop or the drive itself, that holds the files need to be physically connected to my tv? Sorry; I know how stupid that sounds but I cannot express how over my head all this is. I’m trying though, and with your help I can leap, *leap *I say, into the 2000’s :o

Alrighty, one last progress report for the night; I have downloaded the files to my computer and at this point, if worse comes to worst I could just watch them from here, but obviously I don’t want to do that. So, now if anyone can(re)explain what to do next . . . I do realize that my tv screen is basically just a big monitor. My question from before about having to physically connect to it is some vague question about having the wifi and the roku and wondering if magic tv faeries can zone in on my computer and see the files. In my quest to figure out how to do this I read something on line that seemed to say I *could *somehow get this unto roku. Does that make any sense? Will check back in tomorow with hope and many thanks for the lack of snark thus far:)

Your best and easiest bet at this point is going to be hooking up the laptop to the computer.

If you want to get the files to the Roku you need your own USB stick. Then you need a Roku that has a USB slot (only 1 model does, IIRC?) Then you need the files to be in the correct format and there’s only like a 50% chance that they are (MKV (H.264), MP4 (H.264), MOV (H.264)).

Don’t do it. Just hook up your laptop.

Oh lordy, I’m getting the vapors just reading that. I don’t know if my computer has an HDM port, but if so which port on the tv do I use? My options are HDMI (this is what I select when I use Roku) HDM2( which is for my regular tv) and the USB. If I use the USB port will I get sound? Something was mentioned about my computer speakers. That aint gonna sound very good(?)

TVs these days usually have multiple HDMI ports. Often they don’t show up in your menu options until you plug them in. Otherwise you can temporarily disconnect your Roku from its HDMI input and plug in a new cable there, and switch back when finished.

I hope your computer has an HDMI port because that would make it simplest - HDMI cables transfer both picture and sound together. You would simply buy a cable long enough to go from computer to TV and directly connect both to each other physically. Be aware that cables over 50 feet may not process the signal from the computer to TV adequately, so the computer should be close enough to the TV. Let us know if your computer has an HDMI port (the port looks the same on both ends, see Corner Case’s post)! If not, you may need to get an adapter or use a different cable.

Here’s a YouTube video on how to connect a laptop to a TV with an HDMI cable:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s532CgZNrMg

Forget the USB route – probably won’t work.

Easiest route (as others have said): Truck your computer into the living room and plug it into TV. Challenge – your computer may not have an HDMI port; it may have a DisplayPort, mini-HDMI, or DVI/VGA. Additional challenge – Your TV is mounted on the wall and this might be a pain. Additional annoyance – you have to lug your laptop into the living room every time you want to watch Game of Thrones.

Slickest route: Plex. Plex is a software program that comes in 2 parts. Part 1 you install on your computer. It will search your hard drive for any media files and then start announcing on your home network that it has media files to play. Then you install Part 2, the Plex app on your Roku. The Roku app will hear your computer broadcasting its media files and offer to play them for you.

Challenge – you will need to install and configure 2 pieces of software; you may need to create a Plex account.
I know this sounds a bit like a sales pitch but Plex is just the industry standard app for this sort of thing. (It’s also free).