How to Play Media Off USB on Vizio TV Without Remote

How to Play Media Off USB on Vizio TV Without Remote

I got my hands on a secondhand Vizio TV from a friend who was moving away. It didn’t come with a remote, I guess he must’ve lost it during the move.

This was annoying but I figured I could plug in a flash drive to watch some home movies.

But nothing happened when I plugged my flash drive into the USB port.

The Multimedia App was supposed to launch automatically. I couldn’t just use the remote to navigate the interface because I didn’t have one.

I decided to hop online to see if I could figure out an easy way to get the Vizio TV to recognize the USB Flash Drive without a remote.

To play media using USB on Vizio TV without a remote, format your flash drive using FAT32 and use supported file formats like MP3 and MP4. Access the Multimedia App using the Vizio Mobile App as a remote, or use a USB mouse.

You have to Format your USB Flash Drive to FAT32

The first thing that you need to know is that the USB ports on older Vizio TV models are service ports, and can only be used for specialized diagnostic equipment. You can use the USB ports on your TV only if they are media ports, found only in later models.

If you are unsure whether or not your TV’s USB port(s) is a media port or service port, refer to your TV’s manual. 

Once you have ascertained that the ports on your TV are in fact USB media ports, you need to figure out if your USB flash drive is formatted FAT32. 

If it is not formatted FAT32, your Vizio TV may not recognize it, or be able to play the media files on it. 

Here are the steps to check and reformat your USB Flash Drive as FAT32.

  • Connect your flash drive to a PC.
  • Open File Explorer.
  • Right-click the USB when it gets recognized.
  • Click on Show more options.
  • Then select “Format..” from the dropdown menu.
  • A menu will open up where you have to check if the File System is FAT32. If it isn’t, click on it to change it to FAT32.
  • You’ll receive a warning message telling you that formatting the device will erase all the data. It is advised to make a backup of the flash drive for this reason.
  • Press OK.

Make Sure your Files Use Formats your Vizio TV Supports

Vizio is very particular about file formats, and it won’t play the content on your USB unless it is in the MP3 format for audio and MP4 for video.

To check the format of your file:

  • Connect the flash drive to a PC.
  • Open File Explorer.
  • Click on the flash drive when it is recognized.
  • Right-click on the file that you wish to view on the TV. 
  • Select Properties from the drop-down menu.
  • One of the first things you should see in the menu is the type of file, which should be MP3 for audio and MP4 for video. 
  • If the format differs, you can use an online file type converter like  to convert it to the necessary format.
  • Download the converted file.
  • Copy and paste the file into the flash drive’s memory.

Use a USB Mouse to Navigate to your Photos and Videos

Once you have prepared your flash drive, you can plug your USB into the back of the Vizio TV. Your Vizio TV may have multiple USB ports or just one.

If your TV only has one port, you should be ready with a USB hub for this next step.

When a USB is plugged into your Vizio TV, an icon with a V-logo will pop up which will have to be selected, for which you normally need a remote.

You can remove the need for a remote by connecting a USB mouse and using it to click on the pop-up which shows up. 

Using the Vizio Mobile App (formerly Vizio SmartCast Mobile)

In case you do not have a USB mouse or USB hub handy, you can use the Vizio Mobile App to use your smartphone as a remote.

It used to be called Vizio SmartCast Mobile, but they changed the name to “Vizio Mobile”

The Vizio Mobile App gives the functionality of a virtual remote right in your smartphone, which of course, is much harder to lose.

Note: Make sure your smartphone and Vizio TV are both on the same WiFi network. 

Here is how you can set up the Vizio Mobile App:

  • Open the Vizio Mobile app on your smartphone.
  • Tap the Control icon. It should look like a television with a speaker in front of it.
  • Tap Devices in the top right corner.
  • Select your TV from the menu that comes up.
  • Your virtual remote should be set up; enjoy!

You Can’t Plug Your Flash Drive In While Your Vizio TV is Off

Your Vizio TV won’t recognize your Flash Drive if you plug it in before you turn it on.

If you don’t have your Remote, you’ll have to find your Vizio TV’s power button to turn it off and back on.

To get your Vizio TV to recognize your Flash Drive:

  1. Unplug the USB from the TV.
  2. Unplug the TV from the power outlet for 60 seconds.
  3. Plug it back in.
  4. Switch the TV on.
  5. Plug the USB back in.
  6. Wait for the “Multimedia” app to appear.

Also try unplugging your TV from the power outlet and letting the charge drain out when your Vizio TV won’t turn on.

Playing Files Off USB on a Vizio TV Is Not A Great Experience

The on-board media player app on Vizio TVs is pretty bare-bones.

If your video file contains subtitles or multiple audio tracks for dubs in different languages, you won’t be able to access these options.

So long as you’re playing small home videos or video files under 4 gigs in size, you should have a good experience.

Personally I’d rather cast to my Vizio TV from my Android smartphone that mess with the USB port on the back of my Vizio TV.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a Vizio TV remote cost?

A Vizio TV remote can be purchased for anywhere between $15.99 and $29.99.

What formats does USB support on Vizio TV?

Vizio only supports devices with the FAT32 file system. Vizio also fails to recognize files over 4GB.

About the author

Maria Chan, or MC, as we call her, is the genius girl-boss who gave up on her cushy silicon-valley job to grind it out with us. Her undying pursuit of wanting Zeebox to the best makes it very clear that she has no interest in running a generic tech-site.

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