Gone are the days when your games console would be used exclusively for playing games and maybe watching a couple of movies. Today the PS4 is an all-powerful multimedia center capable of doing everything from streaming your Spotify playlists to watching Netflix. Rumour has it that an upcoming patch will make your PS4 capable of scratching your back while whispering ASMR nothings in your ear.
As of 2015, your PS4 is also very capable of playing media files that you keep on an external USB hard drive (You can’t store media files locally on your PS4, unfortunately,), and in this article we’ll show you how.
Prepare Your External HDD/USB Drive
The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure that the device that you’ll be using to play your media files is formatted correctly. The PS4 supports FAT32 and exFAT formats (not NTFS). We recommend using the exFAT format rather than the old FAT32 because it lets you store much larger individual files which you’ll definitely need in the case of videos.
You can format your external HDD or USB drive on just about any computer. Here’s our guides on how to format an external HDD on Mac and how to format an external HDD/USB Drive on Windows. If you’re focusing in particular on optimizing your hard drive for playing movies, then check out our guide on how to format a hard drive fit for movies.
Play Video Files on Your PS4
Using the onboard media player you can use your PS4 to play video files in the MKV, AVI, MP4 and MP2 TS formats. Bear in mind that your video files will also need to be using the correct codecs for picture and sound. So if, for example, you have an MKV video, its audio codec will need to be either MP3, AAC LC or AC-3, otherwise you won’t hear anything. Here’s Sony’s official list of all supported media formats and codecs for the PS4.
On your freshly formatted exFAT hard drive, throw all the video files you want to play on your PS4 into a folder with a name of your choice. (They have to be in a folder, otherwise your PS4 won’t see them.) When you’re done, plug the hard drive into your PS4, go to “Media Player,” then navigate to your videos.
Play Music Files on Your PS4
It’s much the same story here as it is with video files, except the supported formats in this case are FLAC, MP3 and AAC. The really important bit of info you need to know is that the folder you create for your music files on your hard drive needs to be called “Music” in order for your PS4 to see them.
The great thing about playing music files on your PS4 is that you can play your favorite tunes while gaming. Once you’ve started playing your music using the Media Player, during gaming hold down the PS button to access the Quick Menu where you’ll have basic music playback control such as Pause/Play, Previous/Next Track, and so on.
Playing media files on your PS4 is, mercifully, a whole lot easier than it used to be thanks to some much-called-for and much-needed patching from Sony. It’s a little frustrating that you can’t store media files locally on your PS4 and play them directly from there, but who knows? Shout about it loudly enough and it may just happen.
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