How to Play Video on Car Screen from Mobile or USB

Watching videos is surely a great way to kill time on long drives. But sometimes, playing videos on a car screen can be quite tricky.

So, are you wondering exactly how to play video on car screen from mobile or usb? If so, then this guide is just for you.

You can play video via wired or wireless methods. Wireless methods include using Bluetooth connection and connectivity apps like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Playing media using a USB connection is also a popular approach. It takes little to no effort to set up and play videos on a car screen through a USB connection.

Today, we’ll discuss the different methods of mirroring your phone to the car screen, how to play videos using USB, and also provide additional information.

So, let’s get into the details.

How to Play Video on the Car Screen?

You can stream videos on your car screen with a USB flash drive or by using apps specifically designed for car screen-to-phone connection.

If you have Bluetooth or a USB-enabled head unit, you can play videos using these two methods.

Method 1 – Using USB Cable or Aux Cable

The first method we’ll look into is the USB connection. You can directly play videos from your phone with a USB cable without installing any additional software.

It is also possible to play media by using a USB to AUX adapter.

Method 2 – Using Bluetooth or Third-Party Software

This method of connecting is only available to Bluetooth-enabled cars. Using Bluetooth or third-party apps eliminates the need for a wired connection.

Some popular software includes – Apple’s CarPlay, Google’s Android Auto, and Mirrorlink.

How to Play Video with USB

This is the most common method of connecting a phone to the car screen. Every car has a USB port on the head unit, and you can easily connect the phone in 3 simple steps:

Step 1 – Locate the USB Port

Most cars and head units come with a USB port attached to the front or side of the screen. Locate the port and connect the smartphone using a USB-C or micro-USB cable. If you’re an iPhone user, then use an Apple Lightning cable.

Step 2 – Enable Developer Mode from Phone Settings

After you have connected the cord, go to your phone settings and do the following steps –  

Settings > About phone> Software Version

Tap “Software Version” a few times. This will switch the phone to developer mode.

Step 3 – Pair Your Device to the Car Screen

After switching to developer mode, enable USB debugging from the phone’s connectivity settings. The phone screen will be paired with the head unit within a few seconds.

USB debugging allows your device to communicate and share files with the car screen. Mainstream brands like Ford, Toyota, and Chevrolet, etc. require this step to successfully connect with the car screen.

How to Stream from Mobile Using Apps

The second method of connecting your phone to the head unit is through apps such as CarPlay, Android Auto, or Mirrorlink.

For Apple Users – Play Media with Carplay

Apple released Carplay in 2014 for a better user experience while driving. This app ensures hands-free phone operation and also reduces drivers’ distractions on the road.

Carplay can connect via both Bluetooth and a lightning cable. To set up Carplay –

  1. Connect the phone to the car head unit with an apple USB cable.
  2. Now go to settings > general > Carplay.
  3. Select your car model and enable the USB connection.
  4. Next, start the Carplay logo on the head unit to finish setting up the device.

Carplay is available on iPhone5 and newer models. To check whether your car is compatible with Carplay, click here.

For Android Users – Connect Using Android Auto

Android Auto is a similar app to Carplay. Powered by Google, this is an easy-to-use and reliable application for android users. To connect your phone using Android Auto, follow the steps below –

  1. First, download the latest version of Android Auto.
  2. Next, check if your car supports Android Auto and enable it from the car’s settings.
  3. Put the car in the parking and connect the device via a USB cable. The phone will automatically pair with your car.
  4. Now, start the android auto application on the car and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.

Additionally, you can also connect the phone using Bluetooth if your car is Bluetooth enabled.

To wirelessly connect your phone, download the android auto app and proceed to the next steps –

  1. Turn on the car’s Bluetooth.
  2. Go to your phone connectivity settings and search for the car model in the “Available Devices.”
  3. Pair the phone with the car.
  4. Launch the Android Auto app in the car and complete the setup.

For Android Users – Connect the Mobile Using Mirrorlink

Mirrorlink is another amazing app you could use to establish a secure and stable connection with the car. Before downloading the app, check the official Mirrorlink website to see the car’s compatibility.

If you find your car is compatible with Mirrorlink, you shall proceed to download the app, and then you can Mirrorlink your mobile in 4 simple steps –

  1. Enable Bluetooth and connect your phone to the car using a USB cable.
  2. Once you’ve established a secure connection, go to phone Settings > Connectivity > Additional Connections > Mirrorlink.
  3. Now, enable “Connect to vehicle via USB.”
  4. Open the app on your phone and complete the setup.

How to Play Video from USB Flash Drive?

Most modern car stereos and infotainment units are equipped with a USB port and can play media files directly from a USB flash drive or SD card. 

Here is a 4 steps guide to setup a USB Flash Drive with your car:

Step 1 – Convert the Video File Into AVI Format

Converting the video files is a crucial step, as most head units don’t support the conventional .mp4 file format. You can convert the files to .AVI format using MP3 Video Converter or online on Convertio. After converting the files, move on to the next step.

Step 2 – Sort the Files into Different Folders

After converting the files to the proper format, you need to separate the files into different folders such as – music, podcast, movies, etc.

This makes it easier for the head unit to read the files. Additionally, you can find the desired files quickly if you sort them out beforehand.

Step 3 – Locate the USB Port

Generally, in the after-market units, the USB port is either at the sides or in the back of the car screen. However, if your vehicle has a built-in screen, the port position may vary.

The USB port can be found in the tunnel console or by the phone charging port. Look at your user manual for further information.

Step 4 – Connect the USB Flash Drive

Now, put the car in the parking and insert the flash drive in the port. Momentarily, the car will detect the flash drive.

Tap on the video player icon on the screen to play the video files.

Can I Stream Netflix in the Car Using Carplay?

Apple’s Carplay services do not support Netflix due to privacy restrictions. That said, you can stream Netflix using third-party apps like – CarBridge or by using an MMB device.

Before installing CarBridge on your iPhone, you need to setBackground App Refreshto always on from the settings. After that, pair the phone to the car via Bluetooth and complete the following steps –

  1. Download the Carbridge app from the official website.
  2. Next, open the app and log in to your apple id.
  3. Finally, connect the car and your iPhone using CarBridge.

To play Netflix using a multimedia device, simply –

  1. Connect the device to the car using a type-C or a type-A USB cable.
  2. Start the apple Carplay on your vehicle.
  3. Scroll down the car screen and find Netflix in the apps section.
  4. Enter account details on Netflix and enjoy your desired content.

How to Watch Live TV on the Car Screen?

You can watch live television through several methods, such as satellite TV, DVR streaming, cable subscriptions, etc.

Here are two of the most common ways to watch TV in the car –

Satellite TV Subscription

This is one of the most reliable methods of watching live TV in the car. Satellite TV subscription offers a variety of channels to choose from and also a wide network coverage.

Nonetheless, satellite subscriptions are quite expensive and require additional hardware such as – a compatible screen, antennas, and tuning box. 

Online Streaming Services

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are excellent for watching live TV. They offer on-demand video-playing services and a wide selection of TV shows.

These don’t require any additional hardware to operate, and the subscription fees are also minimal. Furthermore, streaming services have the option of downloading shows, allowing you to watch them even when you’re offline. 

Safety Notes

Watching videos in the car is undoubtedly a fun activity, but drivers should refrain from using their phones while driving.

In the US, more than 50,000 drivers got into accidents in 2019 alone due to the use of cell phones while driving. When driving, you should be mindful of the road and avoid any distractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it possible to stream YouTube music on car screen?

Yes, you can play podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio files on your car screen. Third-party apps like – Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Mirrorlink allow users to listen to uninterrupted high-quality audio while driving.

2. Which format should I use for the car USB player?

Multiple file formats, such as – mp3, mp4, mkv, and avi, etc, are compatible with car stereo systems. The mp3 format is best for audio files, whereas the AVI format excels in playing video files.

However, newer after-market infotainment systems also support mainstream formats like – mp4 and mkv.

3. Can I play movies over a bluetooth connection?

Unfortunately, you can’t. Bluetooth does not have the required signal strength to transmit high-quality video files. However, you can play video files on the car screen using wifi or a USB connection.


Today we’ve discussed how to play video on car screen from mobile or USB. All of the methods mentioned works great for both the older and newer generations of cars.

In short, apps like CarPlay or Android Auto are great for wireless connection. In addition to high-quality video players, they also offer services like– navigation, communication, and voice command.

Connecting via USB is better suited for you if you prefer wired connections. Moreover, a wired connection also ensures better speed and signal strength. 

Watching videos is a good way to kill time, but safety should always be your first concern. So, avoid watching videos while driving and pay attention to traffic rules. 

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