The Xbox 360 features built-in support for streaming media from a Windows PC, both from Windows Media Player and acting as an Extender for Windows Media Center, but it is possible to achieve ┬ásimilar functionality with a Mac using third-party solutions. In this tutorial, we’re going to look at using one of the most popular of these applications, Connect360, to establish a connection between a Mac and an Xbox 360 over a home network to stream media from the Mac to the games console.

Connect360 is able to stream audio, video and digital photos from a variety of sources, including your iTunes and iPhoto Libraries, as well as transcoding certain formats in real time that would not ordinarily be supported on the Xbox 360. This functionality is available over both ethernet and wireless network connections. Although Connect360 is commercial software, it does offer a free version for download that allows you to stream a limited amount of media to test out the program’s functionality before deciding whether or not to purchase.

1.) Connect360 functions as a Preference Pane in your Mac’s System Preferences. When you first download the application, it will appear like this on your Desktop (or in whichever download location you selected):

Downloaded Connect360 PrefPane.png

2.) Double-Click on the downloaded Connect360.prefPane. System Preferences will open and you will be asked for your Administrator Password to allow the application to install:

OS X Password Screen.png

3.) When Connect360 first starts, you will be presented with this screen:

Connect360 when first Opened on OS X.png

4.) Click on Start. Connect360 will automatically configure the OS X Firewall the first time it opens to allow communication with your Xbox 360, and you will be presented with a dialog box asking for your permission. Click Allow to proceed with the configuration:

Allowing Connect350 to Configure the OS X Firewall.png

5.) Connect360 will begin to catalog your iTunes and iPhoto Libraries as well as the Movies folder on your Mac. This may take some time the first time you launch Connect360, especially if you have substantial libraries of media on your Mac. However, after this initial process, Connect360 will update the catalog only as changes to your media collection are made, making subsequent launches much quicker. In this screenshot, we can see that Connect360 has detected our media files on our Mac and prepared them for sharing. However, there is no Xbox 360 yet detected:

Connect360 Sharing OS X Media Libraries.png

6.) Turn on your Xbox 360. If your Xbox 360 is not set to automatically sign you in, sign in with your Gamer Profile. Connect360 will detect your Xbox 360 and display it in its Discovered Devices pane:

Connect360 Discovering Xbox 360 on same Network.png

7.) On your Xbox 360, go to My Xbox and navigate to the Movies Library. Press A on the Xbox 360 controller. Your Mac should now be listed in the available media sources:

Selecting Mac as Media Source on the Xbox 360.JPG

8.) Press A again to select your Mac as the Source. All the video files in your iTunes Library and Movies Folder will now be available to view on your Xbox 360, and can be selected by navigating through the media list and pressing A on the 360 controller:

Shared Mac Video Library on Xbox 360.JPG

9.) In the Music Library pane on the Xbox 360 Dashboard, your iTunes Music Library will be available to stream and can be navigated by Albums, Artists, Playlists, Songs and Genre. You can also stream live Internet Radio broadcasts to your Xbox 360 by adding the station source to a playlist on your Mac:

Shared iTunes Music Library on Xbox 360.JPG

10.) Similarly, in the Photos Library on your Xbox 360, your iPhoto Library will be available for viewing and can be navigated by Event or Album. Slideshows can also be played:

Shared iPhoto Library on Xbox 360.JPG

11.) Connect360 has a number of options that can be tweaked by clicking on the Settings button. Here you can set options for transcoding quality and Library updating, amongst many other functions of the application:

The Connect360 Settings Tabs.png

For Mac owners who like to game on the Xbox 360, Connect360 helps to turn Microsoft’s games console into a very useful remote media player for all the content stored on your OS X machine. Unfortunately, it is not compatible with Apple’s iTunes DRM protection, so music and movies purchased from the iTunes Store that do contain this DRM are not accessible on your Xbox 360. All music available since iTunes went DRM-free in the MUsic Store will play happily on the console, though, as will any music, videos or digital photos you have added to your media Libraries yourself.