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how to play USB on TV

Do you want to play media contents from USB on your TV? To do that, you may need to do some preparatory work. This post from MiniTool Partition Wizard shows you how to play USB on TV step by step.

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Preparatory Work

Do you want to play music, pictures, or videos from a USB device on your TV? Nowadays, most TVs are smart TVs and they can play content from a wider range of sources than traditional sets. This includes files on a USB stick or hard drive.

But before you start playing the content from a USB drive, you should do some preparatory work.

1. Find the USB Port on TV

If your TV allows you to play the content from a USB drive, it will provide a USB port. In most cases, the USB port is located at the back of the TV. Please look for it carefully. If there is no USB port on TV, your TV may not have this feature.

2. Prepare a Suitable USB Device

Most smart TVs can recognize thumb drives, flash card readers, and even cameras and external hard drives. But please note that not all TVs support USB hubs and USB extension cables. If possible, do not use them.

3. Format the USB Drive Properly

How to get USB to work on TV? The trick is to format the USB drive to a proper file system. If the USB drive uses an improper file system, it won’t be recognized and used by the TV. What file system is supported by your TV? In recent years, popular smart TV brands are Samsung, LG, Sony, Hisense, and TCL. In most cases, these TVs support the following USB formats.

  • Samsung: QLED and SUHD TVs support FAT, exFAT, and NTFS file systems, while Full HD TVs support NTFS (Read-Only), FAT16, and FAT32.
  • LG: FAT32 and NTFS are supported.
  • Sony: FAT, FAT32, and exFAT are supported.
  • Hisense: NTFS, FAT32, and FAT are supported.
  • TCL: ROKU-enabled TVs support FAT, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, and HFS+.
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But please note that the supported file system may vary depending on specific TV models. For example, some TVs may only support FAT and FAT32 file systems. Please look at the following example:

I just bought a WD 4TB my book and hooked it up to my TCL LE48FHDF3300Z tv but it says there is no media. I formatted to NTFS and it didn't work. I then formatted to exFAT and still didn't work. Any advice? -- forums.tomsguide.com

Not only the LE48FHDF3300Z, other TCL TV models like LE32HDF3300 and LE55FHDF3300 also only support FAT and FAT32. It’s not surprising because FAT and FAT32 file system are much more widely used than NTFS and exFAT file systems.

Note: Files larger than 4GB can’t be stored on a FAT32 USB drive.

Then, how to format the USB drive? Some TVs allow you to format the USB drive with its built-in feature. But most TVs may not offer this feature. Therefore, I recommend you format it on a PC. In a Windows PC, you can format the USB drive easily as follows:

  • Connect the USB drive to your PC.
  • Open the Windows Explorer.
  • Click This PC, right-click on the USB drive, and choose Format.
  • Choose a File System and then click OK.

However, if your TV only supports FAT and FAT32 file systems and the USB drive is larger than 32GB, you will fail to format the USB drive to FAT32 on your PC. In this case, I recommend you to use MiniTool Partition Wizard, which can format a drive up to 2TB to the FAT32 file system.

To format a USB drive using MiniTool Partition Wizard, you can refer to the following steps:

Free Download

Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard and get its main interface. Right-click on the partition of the USB drive and choose Format.

choose Format

Step 2: Expand the drop-down menu next to File System and choose FAT32. Then, click the OK button.

choose a file system

Step 3: Click the Apply button to execute the pending operation.

click the Apply button

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4. Prepare Proper Media Files

Not all media files are supported by a TV. In addition, if you want to play the content from a USB drive, the range of supported file formats will be shrunk further. You should make sure your media files (pictures, music, and videos) are in proper file formats.

What file formats on a USB are supported by your TV? I gathered the supported USB file formats for Samsung, LG, Sony, Hisense, and TCL TVs. If your TV is from these brands, you can refer to the following tables.

1. For those TVs that are not included here, you should check the compatible audio and video file formats in their user manual.
2. If you know the specific model of your TV, I recommend you to find the user manual of the TV so that you can get a more accurate result.
3. If you want to play a video but its format is not supported by your TV, you can try using a video converter to convert the video to a proper format.

Samsung TV Supported File Formats (for QLED and SUHD)

Category File Extension Format/Container Codec
Audio .mp3 MPEG MPEG1 Audio Layer 3
  • .m4a
  • .mpa
  • .aac
.ogg OGG Vorbis
.wma WMA WMA
.wav wav wav
  • .mid
  • .midi
midi midi
.ape ape ape
  • .aif
  • .aiff
  • .avi
  • .mkv
  • .asf
  • .wmv
  • .mp4
  • .mov
  • 3gp
  • .vro
  • .mpg
  • .mpeg
  • .ts
  • .tp
  • .trp
  • .mov
  • .flv
  • .vob
  • .svi
  • .m2ts
  • .mts
  • .divx
  • AVI
  • MKV
  • ASF
  • MP4
  • 3GP
  • MOV
  • FLV
  • VRO
  • VOB
  • PS
  • TS
  • SVAF
H.264 BP/MP/HP
HEVC (H.265 - Main, Main10)
Motion JPEG
DivX 3.11/4/5/6
Window Media Video v9 (VC1)
Microsoft MPEG-4 v1, v2, v3
Window Media Video v7 (WMV1), v8 (WMV2)
H.263 Sorrenson
.webm WebM VP8
VP9 (Supported up to profile 2)
.rmvb RMVB RV8/9/10 (RV30/40)
Note: It seems that Samsung didn’t release compatible file formats used on USB drives separately. The file formats in the above table may be applied to both WLAN and USB.

LG TV Supported File Formats on USB

Category File Extension Codec Format Audio Format (in Video)
  • .avi
  • .mpg
  • .mpeg
  • .mkv
  • .mp4
  • .asf
  • .wmv
  • .m4v (DRM free)
  • .vob
  • .3gp
  • XVID
  • MPEG1 SS
  • H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
  • MPEG2 PS
  • MPEG2 TS
  • VC-1 SM(WMV3)
  • Dolby Digital
  • DTS
  • MP3
  • WMA
  • AAC
  • AC3
  • .mp3
  • .wma
  • .wav
  • .m4a (DRM free)
  • .flac
  • .jpg
  • .jpeg
  • .png
  • .gif

Sony TV Supported File Formats on USB

Category File Type File Extension
Video MPEG-1 .mpg
MPEG-2 (PS, TS) .mpg, .m2t
MPEG-2, AVCHD .m2ts, .mts
MPEG-4 (Part 2, 10), MP4 .mp4
DivX SD (Home Theater profile 3.0) .divx, .avi
Xvid .avi
WMV, Asf .asf, .wmv
Music LPCM .wav
MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3 .mp3
WMA, Asf .wma
Image JPEG .jpg, .mpo, .arw
Tip: Hisense didn’t release the information about compatible file formats that are suitable for most TV models, but you can find the user manual of a specific model to check compatible file formats. In addition, they usually support .avi (Mpeg2, H.264), .mkv (H.264, H.265), .mpg (Mpeg2), and .ts (H.264, H.265) videos; .jpg images, and .mp3 music.

TCL Roku enabled TVs usually support the following file formats:

  • Video:264/AVC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV)
  • Audio: AAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); MP3(.MP3, .MKV); WMA (.ASF, .WMA, .MKV), FLAC (.FLAC, .MKV), PCM (.WAV, .MKV, .MP4, .MOV), AC3/EAC3 (.MKV,.MP4. .MOV, .AC3), DTS (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV,.DTS), ALAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .M4A)
  • 4K Video:265/HEVC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); VP9 (.MKV)
  • Playlists: .M3U, .M3U8
  • Image: JPG, PNG, GIF (non-animated)
1. If the bitrate of the video is too high, it may be unable to be played on your TV.
2. If the number of files and folders saved on the USB drive is too high, some files and folders might not be accessible.

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How to Play USB on TV

After completing the above preparatory work, you can follow the steps below to play the content from USB on your TV.

1. How to Play USB on Samsung TVs

  • Plug the USB drive into the USB port on TV or the Mini One Connect of your TV.
  • Press the Source button on your remote and then select USB Device USB. Or you can press the HOME button on your remote, navigate to Source and choose USB Device / Connected Device.
  • Select the media file you want to play.
Tip: 1. Pressing the Enter button can show the control panel. 2. If you want to play another media saved in your USB device, press the Return button on your remote and it will return to the MY CONTENT page.

2. How to Play USB on LG TVs

  • Connect the USB flash drive to the USB port on the side or the back of the TV.
  • Press the Home button on the remote to access the home screen.
  • Select the Input icon, which is in the upper right corner and next to the Settings
  • Select USB Drive.
  • Select the type of files you want to see (All Media, Movie List, Photo List, or Music List).
  • Select a file to play on your TV.

3. How to Play USB on Sony TVs

  • Press the HOME button on the remote.
  • Connect the USB drive to the USB port on your TV and wait until the message USB device is connected displays on the screen.
  • Select the type of file you want to access in your USB device (Open with "Album", Open with "Music", Open with "Video").
  • For Android TVs released in 2020 or later, please press the left arrow button on the remote to move the cursor to the left edge. But for other TVs, you should press the left arrow button on the remote once more to display the Menu.
  • In the left pane, select Folders or the USB device name.
  • Select the folder where your files are placed.

4. How to Play USB on Hisense TVs

  • Connect a USB device into the USB port.
  • Select the media type on the Media screen or Home screen (Photo, Music, and Movie).
  • Select the file to play.

5. How to Play USB on TCL TVs

  • Connect a USB device into the USB port.
  • Press MENU on the remote control and then the Main Menu
  • Select USB to display the USB screen.
  • Select the folder or file to play on your TV.
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Here is a post talking about how to play USB on TV. If your TV is from Samsung, LG, Sony, Hisense, or TCL, this post may help you. It lists supported USB file systems and supported USB video format, audio formats, and image formats of these TVs.Click to tweet

Bottom Line

Is this post helpful to you? Do you have other ideas about supported USB formats and supported file formats on these TVs? Please share your ideas with us. In addition, if you have any problem with MiniTool Partition Wizard, please feel free to contact us via [email protected]. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

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