How to Watch MKV, Xvid, DivX and WMV Videos on Your iPad or iPhone

This tutorial will show you how to watch .mkv, .avi, .wmv, .flv (Flash) and many more video formats on your iPad or iPhone, using a completely free App.

Please note: while this tutorial was initially published in 2010, it has been updated to be current in 2021.

By default, the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch are only able to play certain types of video files. By installing just one App you’ll be able to watch all sorts of different video files – and that App is free!

  1. Get started by downloading and installing VLC for Mobile. If you search for VLC in the App store, make sure to select the one that lists VideoLAN as the author. There are lots of apps that try to imitate VLC and you don’t want to accidentally install one of those.
  2. VLC in the App Store

  3. Launch VLC from your iPad/iPhone Home Screen.
  4. the VLC app icon on an iOS Home Screen

  5. Tap OK when you’re prompted to grant VLC permission to search your network and connect to media devices.
  6. the permissions box for VLC in iOS

  7. Right now your media library is empty, which is perfectly fine and doesn’t really matter at all. We actually only opened VLC so that we could make sure it had the right permissions.
  8. the default VLC for Mobile screen

  9. Transfer a video file (.mkv, .avi, .wmv etc) to your iPad or iPhone. Use whatever method you normally use to transfer files to your device. If you’re a Mac user, AirDrop is probably the fastest and easiest way. If you’re using Windows, ShareDrop is a great way to transfer files from a PC to an iPhone or iPad. The VLC app itself also has a number of ways to copy audio and video files from network shares, cloud services like Dropbox, and even media servers like Plex. We’ll get to that at a later step. Once you’ve copied a video file to your device, use the Files app to find the video and select it by tapping on it.
  10. an MKV file to watch on an iPad in the Files app

  11. A new window will appear with a little bit of information about the file. Tap the Share button in the upper-right corner.
  12. info about an MKV file to watch on an iPad with an arrow pointing to the iOS Share button

  13. Choose VLC from the list of apps.
  14. an arrow pointing to VLC in the iOS Share menu

  15. Ta-da! Your video will open up in VLC and start to play. Enjoy!
  16. an mkv video being played on an iPad

  17. Once you’ve finished watching your video, take a moment to become familiar with the VLC for Mobile app. One section you might find particularly helpful can be accessed by selecting the Network tab in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Give VLC a moment and it will scan the network that it’s connected to for media servers and file shares. It found my Mac, Windows PC and Plex server all within 20 seconds. Use these shortcuts to connect to other devices on your network and stream or copy files to your iPhone or iPad right from within VLC.
  18. the VLC for Mobile Network tab with 3 media servers listed


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2 thoughts on “How to Watch MKV, Xvid, DivX and WMV Videos on Your iPad or iPhone”

  1. Thanks, this is very helpful and will save me a lot of time and converting. Going to try it right now.

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