Stream .mkv, avi, etc to Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by BlindMellon, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. BlindMellon macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2011
    Hey all, forgive the noob question, but a search didn't produce anything definitive.

    I'm looking to take the dive into a Apple TV unit. I have years worth of .mkv, avi, divx, (etc.) files and would like to stream them from my PC to the Apple TV unit.

    Converting all these files to iTune friendly format would be my life's work and the quality would suffer.

    Can this (streaming) be done? Details please for a noob! :eek:
  2. jdblas69 macrumors regular

    Aug 15, 2012
    You would have to jailbreak a apple tv 2 and install plex/xmbc. There is no known jailbreak yet for apple tv 3.

    Alternatively maybe you should look at other media streaming devices that support streaming of multiple video formats.
  3. herdnerfer macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2011
    Saint louis, MO
    Converting not too difficult

    It's really not that hard to convert these files to .mp4 for iTunes.

    I use Videora AppleTV converter. It's completely free & you can just queue up all the files, it will automatically change them to the right format, retaining image & sound quality & will even load them into itunes for you.

    100 movies may take a day or two to convert, but its all done automatically without any actions from you.
  4. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    A relatively simple and economical way to do it is with an iPhone/iPad and Air Video Server. The app costs $1.99 or $2.99

    The beta version of the server does x264 pass-thru, so there's no load on your PC, except for the conversion of the audio.

    If you don't have an iPhone or an iPad, then you'll either need to convert all your files, or use another streaming device.
  5. BlindMellon thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2011
    Thanks all. Due to Apple imposed limitations on the device, I just went ahead and got the WD TV Live Streaming Media Player Wi-Fi 1080p unit. Plays everything you can throw at it - natively. No converting. Same price.
  6. heisenberg123 macrumors 603


    Oct 31, 2010
    Hamilton, Ontario
    ya good alternative for people like you with a mix and match of many formats, my buddy has one and it works good you can even get it to add all the meta info, (cover art, director, actors, movie description) not sure how its done buy my buddy is not that savy with technolgy so if he can do it than im guessing its straight forward
  7. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    I went the WDTV Live route a while back as well and it is great for those with many different formats of movies and being able to connect it to an external storage device while on the go.

    More recently I have been getting more and more into the whole Apple ecosystem and just enjoy how easy everything works together, I just had to "make" all my movies play nice. Basically converting MKV's to mp4 or m4v is not that time consuming at all, it is basically just changing the file container and I haven't noticed much if any quality loss.
    Now going from avi to mp4, which I am still in the process of, takes what seems like forever.

    It's just nice that I can now host all of my movies on 1 small computer in iTunes and access them easily over every Mac and iOS device that comes into the house as well as using Airplay more and more.

    I still use the WDTV when we go RV'ing cause it's easier to take 1 set top box and a hard drive than moving the Mac Mini, Airport Extreme, AppleTV and Hard Drive and creating a network to watch movies :)
  8. BlindMellon thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2011
    I would have gone the Apple TV route, but I have no movies in iTunes format and a hundred+ in every other format...
  9. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Same, I have almost 500 Movies that were mkv and dozens of TV series in mov/avi format.
    All of my movies have been converted and about 1/2 of the TV series.

    Most of the conversions I set up to work through the night, some days I was able to convert 50+ movies / day. Right now I'm just picking and choosing TV series.

    If you ever get interested in doing the same.

    I suggest MKV2M4V (off the app store) to convert the mkv files.
    iVI (off the app store) for any avi's or other formats.
    iDentify (off the app store) for bulk renaming/ adding metadata to files.

    I've used free and purchased most of the conversion software on and off the app store and these are the one's I had the most success with.
  10. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    Personally, I'd stay away from it. There are much better choices, as long as your sources are mostly MKV's; for example, MP4Tools. It just remuxes MKV's with compatible video tracks to MP4's, unlike the Videora AppleTV converter, which ALWAYS reencodes the video. With incompatible videos (Ogg Vorbis, VC-1 etc.) it'll automatically reencode the video.

    Anotehr excellent choice is iFFMpeg, which, so far, I've found excellent.


    MKV2M4V is decent but there certainly are much better choices. Let me cite my pros/cons section of my review:

    The biggest problems

    Let's start with the biggest, not-fixable problems of the app so that you don't waste more time reading this article if you see an absolute stumbling-block.

    There are two of them:

    - the app can't transfer (by reencoding if needed) more than two original audio tracks. This is a major problem if you want to retain, say, all the commentary tracks of a video. For example, the well-known Finnish sci-fi parody “Iron Sky” has two commentary tracks (Finnish and English) and two main audio tracks (one 5.1 and one 2-channel AC-3 tracks, having the same audio). This is at least three tracks if you want to preserve both commentaries, along with either of the main audio tracks.

    - there is absolutely no support for embedded subtitles at all. It only supports external SRT subs, which means you need to extract them first with, say, Subler. This, should you want to use this app in batch mode, would result in a lot of additional work. (Needless to say, top remuxers like the most recommended MP4Tools and Subler both support embedded subtracks. Actually, Subler even supports their bitmap versions too – both OCR'ing and pass-through'ing-wise.)

    OK, these are the major problems of the app you must be aware of. Don't even think of purchasing the app if they're a problem.

    Before going further and I quickly explain how the app should be used, I tell you more of the advantages / disadvantages of the app. After all, there are a lot of alternatives on the market – it's better to decide if you need this app as quickly as possible.


    Accepts both M4V (MP4 / MOV) and MKV input, meaning you can quickly, say, downmix the AC3 track of an already-converted M4V file now that AC3 is no longer supported in the vast majority of players.

    Very easy-to-setup for batch mode (to convert more than one video at a time) – unlike MP4/MKVTools, where you do have to make some additional settings. Batch mode is particularly good compared to Subler, which has very weak batch support.

    Cheap (compared to almost all the other remuxers; except for, of course, the free Subler).

    Cons (in addition to the ones already explained)

    Somewhat slow conversion, at least compared to the, in this regard, best tools (Subler, MP4Tools, AnyVideo Converter HD). It's still way faster than, say, iVI (Pro).

    No support for video conversion for non-H.264 (for example, VC-1) input, unlike with MP4/MKVTools / iVI.

    Uses at least twice the movie's filesize for temp files – can be an issue when, to speed things up, you use a small(er) SSD to write the target movie file to.

    (more info: )
  11. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    I would be interested in more from you on this one. Pro's/Con's, overview of use and most of all, what it offers vs Handbrake. I took a quick look at it's website and it looks interesting but couldn't really tell if it offered anything that I don't already have using HB.
  12. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    The most important of them is automatic remuxing when possible - and excellent batch support.

    Will post a major article on both FFmpeg (how it should be used from the command line, batch files (for loops) etc.) and iFFmpeg in the very near future.
  13. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Great! Will be looking forward to it. Right now between MakeMKV, HB and Subler, I have a pretty solid system down but I am always open to improvement. I don't remux the h.264 mkv's into mp4's as I use wifi for everything and the only advantage for me would be an almost imperceptible video quality improvement.
  14. satchmo macrumors 68000

    Aug 6, 2008
    Saved me from converting anything since everything is done on the fly.
    The free app works well too.
  15. Soondae macrumors member


    May 22, 2012
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    So long as you have a MAC there are two simple solutions that work perfectly:
    Play the movie in VLC and then Airplay to your ATV
    Purchase Beamer ($13) when you drop your AVI, MKV or what ever it will automatically airplay to the ATV. I love Beamer and it now supports 5.1 audio.

    If you have a PC you have little choice but to re-encode to MP4 and play thru iTunes.
  16. e5volcano macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2010
    I too am in the OP's situation (considering buying Apple Tv to stream stuff from my Windows PC to AppleTV), but wouldn't AirParrot work? That's what I am thinking of using after I buy my AppleTv
  17. Jeaz macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2009
    Surprised noone has mentioned iFlicks. Yes, it's a paid app, but it's a very good one.

    It supports header switching on the MKV file to MP4 so converting a full length movie takes maybe 5 minutes at the most. Also adds metadata and subtitles (software version, so you can turn on and off from the AppleTV) and supports folder actions.

    It's on the Mac App Store. Website here:
    Been using it for years and it's been a great experience.

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