VLC for iOS 2.2 (iPhone screenshot 001)

I previously wrote a guide on how to stream movies from your iTunes library on your iPhone or iPad using Home Sharing. The feature only works with iTunes-supported file formats though, meaning that you can only stream videos or movies in formats like MP4 and MOV. Many other video codecs, notably AVI, are not playable by iTunes.

Nevertheless, it is still possible to play AVI videos or movies on iPhone or iPad. You simply need to download the official VLC for iOS app, which is free on the App Store, and choose one of several methods to get the AVI videos or movies onto your device. Read ahead for step-by-step instructions on how to watch AVI videos or movies on iPhone or iPad… 

Update: This app does as much as VLC, and more: WALTR for Mac converts & transfers any video to iPhone and iPad, no iTunes required

How to watch AVI files on iPhone or iPad

Step 1: Download VLC for iOS on the App Store. Free for iPhone and iPad.

Step 2: Open VLC for iOS and tap on the pylon icon in the top-left corner.

VLC for iOS Side by Side

Step 3: Tap on Wi-Fi Upload and the toggle switch will turn orange.

Step 4: On your Mac or PC, type the network shown into the address bar of your web browser. Example:

Wi-Fi Upload VLC

Step 5: Click on the plus sign in the top-right corner and open the desired AVI file.

Step 6: The file will be uploaded to your iPhone or iPad over Wi-Fi.

After following these steps, the AVI file should appear within the Media Library in the VLC for iOS app. VLC supports virtually every common video codec, so this guide can be used for other file formats as well. If you would prefer to upload files using a different method, tap on the Learn More link in VLC for iOS for instructions on using iTunes file sync or uploading media from Google Drive or Dropbox.

  • Willie

    Really good post!! I wished vlc had a function similar airplay that let’s you stream your content from your mac to iPad..

    • It does support streaming from computers via UPnP.
      I’m using AVPlayer which supports streaming via FTP.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      For this I’d highly recommend the Plex Media Server. You can download for free at plex[.]tv. The app costs a small amount of money but it also has a web client if you don’t want to buy the app.

    • Julia Softorino

      Come on, Handbrake`s better than VLC
      But the Best One is Waltr, the app we`re working on
      It can transfer media directly to iPad without iTunes sync 🙂

  • Scope

    Is this sponsored… There’s so many apps that can do this…. why is vlc special…

    • Gucciipad

      Vlc has been special as a PC video playing app for years.

      • Scope

        This app has zero benefit over a plethora of similar apps on AppStore. You could post this exact same article and replace VLC with so many other app names and there would be no difference. You say it’s special. How so? I don’t think you even know why you think it’s special. No doubt it’s not on iOS.

      • Virain

        The difference is that not every player supporty dolby digital codec.

      • Jack Wong


      • Virain

        ya but its paid

      • Seere Petrova

        not all free players support other audio codecs as well… and this one does support the most common ones.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        This app has zero benefit over a plethora of similar apps on AppStore

        Here’s three:

        It’s free

        It’s Open Source

        It just works

      • DogeCoin

        It’s cross platform. Got it for IOS, WIndows, MacOSX, GNU/Linux.

    • Joe Rossignol

      No, this post is not sponsored by VLC or anyone else. I simply chose VLC because it is an app that I personally use and I’ve used the desktop version for several years. There are definitely other apps for playing AVI files.

    • John Stevenson

      It`s not special comparing to the apps like WALTR. This one can transfer videos without convering, using iTunes or quality loss. You just drag and drop.

  • CoryChinloy

    You can also put videos into the app via iFile. Just place them into /var/mobile/Applications/VLC/Documents and then they will appear in the VLC app.

    • Joe Rossignol

      Nice tip! I didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing.

      • DogeCoin

        Protip, if your using linux you can just mount your iphone and manually put files in the location without having to use itunes.

    • Brian May

      Same principal but with iFunboz too. Same location

    • babiloe

      I u

  • iPhone Gruru

    Then please enlighten us.

  • Sachin

    VLC is among the few apps I install on my every iDevice. No need to convert to mp4. It even plays 1080p .mkv files. 😀

    • Virain

      No dude i tried to played 1080p mp4 video on my iphone 4s but it didn’t

      • Sachin

        For that you need atleast A6 processor i.e. iPhone 5 and later.

      • babiloe

        Nope. Even my 3GS or iPad 1 can play mp4 1080p. I think it is 10bit anime movie non standard.

      • regkilla

        iPhone 4S? Get out!

      • Virain

        Then i think moli player is better player then vlc but for paid player i go for av player

      • Sean Cua

        it should be able to play 1080p videos since my ipad 2 can play them and they have the same processor.

        Edit: Although I’m using AVPlayer.

      • iThinkergoiMac

        I would point out that, technically, you can’t play 1080p videos on your iPad 2 since it just doesn’t have the pixels to display it.

        iPad 2 resolution: 1024×768
        1080p: 1920×1080

        Therefore anything bigger than 720p (the closest standard widescreen format, but still bigger than what the iPad 2 can display) is wasting space. Same for a retina iPhone (makes no difference whether 4/4S or 5/5s in this case).

      • Sean Cua

        Technically it is still playing, but it just downscales the video. I don’t usually watch on my iPad but when I do I copy my videos from my pc which are always 1080p and I won’t waste time by converting the video into 1024×768.

        Basically what I’m saying here is that the A5 can process 1080p video.

      • iThinkergoiMac

        Yes, there’s no question that it can play the video that has been scaled down from 1080p to match the screen. And there’s no harm in using a 1080p video, though it will use more space and eat the battery faster.

  • Wolfer

    This app has been used by me for every video I have in my pc, mac, or download from the net. It is free, and very easy to use, to place the videos in it using the wifi conection, like it is explain here, or using itunes, or any other download app for the iphone or ipad, or from the messages app, or email app. Really I love this app, plays every format of video I had put in it. I had it installed in my computers too. At least for me it is a 5 star app for play videos. Every type of video.

  • White Michael Jackson

    I am sorry but VideoOn Player play more video types way more smoother than VLC for iOS

  • Windy S.

    @JoeRossignol:disqus: VLC drains too much battery on my iDevice. Have you met this issue?

    • Joe Rossignol

      I haven’t paid attention to it much. My iPhone 5 is almost 2 years old, and the battery seems to be draining quick anyways. Time to upgrade soon.

    • iThinkergoiMac

      VLC isn’t the most efficient video player out there, that’s for sure. I seem to get pretty good results on my iPad with CineXPlayer and nPlayer.

  • jack

    This app has only one problem. Once a video is inside VLC, it can’t get out since there is no Open With / Share dia log so forget exporting it to Camera Roll or any other app such as Facebook or Whatsapp.

  • LeonLink

    AVPLAYER >>>>> VLC

  • wonderboydave

    I still like VLC streamer. install on ios. install on PC/MAC. locate files from PC/MAC from iphone, have an option to either stream or copy to phone. AVI and other formats supported.

  • download and use AIRVIDEO HD its the best for streaming videos 🙂

  • Amad

    Great post.

  • Sleetui

    VLC’s App is still buggy and fails to preform at times such as playing MKV formats. Whilst other apps may be better. I would try infuse 2.0 but not sure if it can play MKV smoothly since you have to pay for the insane price. And I prefer PS3 Media Server since I use a PS3.

  • Chris

    Infuse by Firecore is my personal choice, it’s much more intuitive than VLC and has a nicer feel to it

  • James Dodd

    Use Infuse. It’s miles better than VLC, and has many more options for how to get content on your device and it has a well designed UI. It’s made by Firecore. And it’s free, and receives constant updates for new features.

  • Sean Cua

    AVPlayer > VLC

  • iThinkergoiMac

    This post implies that VLC is the ONLY way to do this, when it’s far from the case. Arguably, it’s not even the best app for the job, though it’s certainly a good one. VLC does have a nice clean interface, but I’ve found that CineXPlayer and nPlayer are both more robust than VLC (though I’ve found files that VLC will play that both CineXPlayer and nPlayer can’t seem to figure out). VLC is free, which is a huge benefit as well. Between the 3 of them, I’ve never found something I couldn’t play on my iPad.

    The point is, the article is a bit misleading since it seems to imply that VLC is the only way to do this, not that it’s the best way in the author’s opinion.

  • VLC Media player is good for videos and movies i am also used..

  • babiloe

    The best way is to remukv movies into mp4 container. Unfortunately for WMV or AVI,
    It can be done in 1 minutes using subler for Mac or mkv2mp4 for PC. You can put integrated subtitle and cover just like original iTunes movie.

  • Kendra

    Thanks for the article Joe. Netflix app is also great on iPhone. If live outside USA, you can use tools like UnoTelly to get Netflix on your iPhone.

  • Eliah

    Thank you so much! This method really helped me out big time! I was always converting files into mp4 through various softwares that took ages to convert.

  • changegrowup

    iDealshare VideoGo is just the right AVI to iPad Converter. It can
    fast convert all AVI files whatever it is encoded with DivX, Xvid, WMV,
    H.263, H.264, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Motion JPEG and etc to iPad more
    compatible video or audio format.

    In addition to converting AVI to iPad, iDealshare VideoGo also
    supports converting other iPad unsupported video or audio formats to
    iPad like convert WMV, WTV, ASF, MPG, FLV, VOB, MKV, RMVB, SWF, WebM,
    3GP, WMA, OGG, APE, FLAC, 3GA and etc.

  • pressurehold

    I use iDealshare VideoGo to play AVI on iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, QuickTime

  • Christy

    Try out WALTR, recently I came across this app, it works just amazing! The best way for those, who don’t want to waste time, convert video or sync like me:) I’m using it to play AVI on iPad, all I need is to drag and drop my videos, no complex configuration is required. Super fast and easy!

  • Julia Softorino

    I prefer Handbrake to VLC anyway
    Thoough the Best App Out There is WALTR of course
    It Works Flawlessly

  • aureliaandrewsb

    I use iDealshare VideoGo to convert AVI, FLV, MKV, WMV, MPG etc to play on iPhone.

  • shuidiaosha

    You may try Idealshare VideoGo,it is great toConvert MKV to Facebook recommended MP4 or MOV with the highest possible conversion speed to upload MKV to Facebook.

  • Sean

    You should try CarbonPlay – Multimedia gadget.

  • Carlos Samey

    I always use Acethinker Video Converter to convert AVI video to MP4 video, and then use iTunes to sync the MP4 video to my iPhone for playback, It’s not that direct, but it’s free and it works pretty well. And this way works for almost all video file types, not just AVI video, share it here as an alternative method.