Got an Xbox 360? You’re probably already using it to frag friends in Call of Duty, huck Hail Mary passes in Madden and take down templars in Assassin’s Creed, but if you’re not also using it as a home media server, you’re missing out. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to set up a UPnP sever on any Windows or Mac computer so the Xbox can access it, and then how to connect and browse your media. That way, when friends come over with their laptops, they can connect to your network and play their digital media too.
To prepare, make sure your Xbox 360 is connected to your network either by Ethernet cable or by using the Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter. From the Xbox’s main menu, go to the Media tab and sign into your user account by selecting the Sign In button at the top.
For Mac & Windows
1) In previous iterations of this article, we recommended different UPnP clients for different operating systems, but after plenty of shopping around and trying boatloads of different software, we’ve come across a simple UPnP that’s extremely simple and works for both Windows and Mac. There are tons of options out there when it comes to UPnP clients, but we think this one – called Plex – scores high marks in all areas: it works on any operating system, it’s fast, has a gorgeous user interface, is full of advanced features and it doesn’t cost a dime.
2.) Go to www.plexapp.com and click on the tab labeled Downloads. Just below the top of the page, you should see three yellow buttons: one for Mac, one for Windows and one for Linux. Click the one that’s appropriate for your system.
3.) Once you’re on the download page for your system, check to make sure that your computer meets all the minimum system requirements. As long as you’re not still using a Commodore 64 and you bought your computer in the past five years or so, you should be fine.
4.) Download and install the Plex Media Server – not to be confused with the Plex Media Center. The Media Center is, however, a good-looking media player that works nicely. If you’re looking for a program that has more pizzazz than your boring iTunes or Windows Media Player setup, it’s well worth a download.
5.) After installing the Plex Media Server, locate and click on the icon. If you’re on a Mac, it will be the black chevron shape in your menu bar, and if you’re on a Windows PC, it’ll be in the lower right corner on your taskbar. When clicked, a menu should appear, from which you should then choose Plex Media Manager.
6.) At this point, the process will look slightly different for windows and Mac users, but the process is essentially the same. Basically, this is when you need to tell Plex where all your media is located. If you’re organized and all your movies, music and pictures are in a well-maintained folder system, this should be easy.
Windows Users: after you click on Plex Media Manager from the icon menu, a window should appear in your default browser. From here, just click on the sections which you’d like to add media to (movies, music, tv shows, etc.) and a drop-down window will appear. Click the Add button, and yet another window will appear, prompting you to select the folder where your media is. This can be done manually by typing the file path into the box, or by browsing the files on your system until you find the right one.
Mac Users: after opening the Media Manager, click on the + button in the lower left corner of the window. This will give you a drop down menu from which you can choose a name for the section you’re creating, and also add media. Just click the + button to browse the files on your system, or drag and drop them into the box.
7.) You’re almost done! Fire up the Xbox 360 and head over to the Movies tab. Click on the Video Player app, and your computer should be listed under “Plex media server on (insert name)’s computer”
8.) Find the media you want and hit play!
If you run into any trouble, just head over to the Help section of Plex’s website. There you’ll find FAQ’s and highly-active user forums that’ll help you troubleshoot just about any problem.