Stream Movies From Your Computer Easily With ES File Explorer

Posted Sep 08, 2012 at 8:36 am in Threads > Entertainment

What this tutorial will help you set up is actually a way to wirelessly access your computer files from your Android device. One of the best practical applications of this is to easily stream movies, without having to mess around with silly acronyms like DLNA and XBMC. Besides, if you have the appropriate HDMI cable/adapter, this could set you up with a really simple and easy way to watch your shows/movies/cartoons/whatever on your TV.

I’ve split the process into two general sections: Computer Side and Android Side. For the computer side, I’ll be using (and taking screenshots of) a Windows 7 PC and for the Android side, I’ve taken screenshots from my Asus Transformer (but it should be the same process for all/most other Android devics). So let’s get started:

Computer Side
Objectives: Set up static IP and share folders.
1) Set up static IP
a) Go to the control panel in the start menu.
b) Depending on your Windows settings, the submenus might look a bit different, but with default Windows 7, look under the subheading of Network and Internet and click on View network status and tasks
c) Click on your connection name (It’ll be next to “connections”)
d) In the popup window, press Properties
e) In the next popup window, scroll down and click to “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and Press the Properties button
f) This neeeext popup window is the one you want.
g) Select the “Use the following IP address” bubble.
h) This next bit depends on your modem setup. For most models, your modems will resolve to something like 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.1.254
i) This is where you set your static IP. For the IP address (assuming you have the above modem address), you want to put in something that conforms to the format of 192.168.1.x. For the ‘x’, you can enter pretty much any number, but I like to put in something like 50, to make it easy to remember (which would make it 192.168.1.50)
j) The Subnet mask will fill itself in after you type in the IP address
k) The default gateway is something that you have to look up. Go to the start menu and type cmd and press enter, which should open up a command prompt in a new window.
l) Type ipconfig, press enter and you’ll be presented with a wall of text. Scroll all the way back up to the top and you should see your default gateway. Type that number into the popup window from before
m) The DNS server addresses are something you can look up online if you like. You can also just use the settings I have on the screenshot below (Preferred DNS server: 8.8.8.8; Alternate DNS server: 8.8.4.4).
n) Click OK and close on all the popup windows
o) The last thing to do is to navigate to the folder you want to share (eg. with your videos in it), right click it and go to “share with” -> Homegroup (read/write)
p) Here’s a screenshot of a few of the above steps on it:

Android side
a) Go to the Play Store and Download ES File Explorer. As an aside, this is primarily a really good file browser, but it can do other fancy things (like the stuff in this tutorial).
b) In the app, swipe to the screen to the right from the default one
c) Press the + New button at the top (or press menu and press New) and then press Server
d)You’ll be presented with this screen:

I’ll explain what to put for each of them:
Domain: You can just leave this blank
Server: This is the Static IP that you set up in the computer part. So, with the example I gave, you would type 192.168.1.50
Username and Password: You type your windows username and password if you have them, or you can just tick Anonymous.
Display as: You can name it if you want (eg. “Home”)
e) You should now see the connection you just set up, with a picture of a laptop with an Earth next to it as its icon. Press it.
f) You should now be greeted with the folders that you have shared. If you have problems seeing or accessing folders here, you want to go back to your computer and check the sharing settings
g) Navigate to the video you want, select it, and it’ll start playing.
h) Enjoy it!

Okay, so this turned out to be way longer and more detailed than I anticipated, but I hope it’s useful to some people. The best part of streaming videos is that you can choose which video player app you want to use to play it (I recommend Diceplayer or MX Video Player).

ES File Explorer is also really good for copying files onto your device – if you long press on any file/folder, you can select “copy”. Then you navigate back to your device (swipe to the left), press menu and select Paste.

Other ways this could be useful:

  • Copying videos over so you can watch them elsewhere
  • Copying textbooks/documents/lecture notes for later consumption
  • If you like to dabble with ROM flashing, this is a really easy way to copy the ROMS onto your device.
  • Almost anything you can think of, really. You can now access all the files on your computer, provided that it’s shared properly and your computer is on.

Can anyone think of a better/novel/practical use for being able to access your computer files? Also, if you have any questions about any of this, please let me know below.

Thanks for reading!

Addendum (02/07/13): I should probably mention that ES File Explorer has since undergone a massive UI overhaul. Even though it looks quite different (and much better, in my opinion), everything should still be in the same place as the above screenshots.