In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to play MKV video files on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android (phone, tablet, TV), and Windows PC. There is no need to waste time converting the MKV video file before playing it!
The apps here will also work to play AVI, MP4, DTS, WMV, 3GP, MOV, FLV, and other video formats.
Can stock Apple apps open MKV files?
The Photos app and Files app on iPhone or iPad, and the QuickTime Player on Mac can’t play MKV files. In other words, none of the native Apple apps have the ability to handle MKV playback.
But by using third-party apps, you can remove this deficiency from your phones and computers and have them open MKV files with ease.
Use VLC Player to watch MKV videos
VLC is a free app for your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android phone, Android TV, and Windows PC that is among the best media players to play MKV files.
On Mac and Windows PC, you can simply open the MKV video or movie file inside the VLC app, and it will start playing.
On Android phone, tablet, and TV
On Android devices, opening VLC for the first time will ask your permission to access your media library. Once you allow grant it permission, the app will scan your phone and show you all the videos, including MKV files. Just tap to play one.
On Android TV, download the VLC app from Google Play Store and grant it to access your storage. After that, you can see the MKV and other video files that are on the pen drive or flash drive connected to your TV. Besides that, you can also click an MKV video file in your TV’s file manager, which will most likely automatically open in the installed VLC app.
On iPhone and iPad
As compared to other operating systems, things are a bit different when it comes playing MKV videos on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:
- First, download the free VLC app from the App Store.
- Now, you can safely, securely, and quickly transfer MKV and other files to VLC from your computer wirelessly or using a cable.
- Once the transfer completes, open the VLC app and go to the Video section. You’ll see the transferred MKV file here.
- From there, tap an MKV video to play it.
AirDrop an MKV file from Mac to iPhone or iPad and play it
Whenever you AirDrop something, the file automatically opens in an Apple app designed to handle it. For example, when you AirDrop a JPG/PNG photo or MP4/MOV video, the iOS Photos app automatically opens and shows the transferred media.
Secondly, when you AirDrop a file like PDF or document that can be opened in several apps, you’ll see a popup alert once the transfer completes. You can pick an app to open the received file.
However, if you AirDrop an MKV file, you may see none of the options except Open with Files or Save to Files. This is true even if you have VLC and other MKV apps installed on your iPhone or iPad. In this case, once the AirDrop completes, follow these steps:
- Tap Save to Files from the popup alert.
- Pick a location like a folder inside On My iPhone or On My iPad (if asked).
- Tap Save. Now, the MKV file is successfully saved to your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap the share button and choose VLC from the Share Sheet.
Note: If you don’t see VLC in the Share Sheet, make sure the VLC app is installed on your device (obviously) and swipe right on the Share Sheet to reach its end. From here, tap More > Edit > green plus button for VLC > Done > Done. Now, VLC will appear in the Share Sheet.
Even in the future, you can tap the MKV video inside the Files app and follow the above steps to play it in VLC.
Pro tip: On iPad, you can tap the MKV file and then select Open in VLC. This MKV file will start playing inside the installed VLC app on your iPad.
7 best apps to play MKV videos on iPhone and iPad
VLC is the best app to play MKV files. It has no ads and is free to use. But if you want to use something else, we found these free apps that can also do the job.
You can add your MKV and other video files to these apps just like you do in the VLC app.
These iPhone and iPad apps are a worthy alternative to the VLC Media Player when it comes to playing MKV and other such video formats.
1) Infuse: If you transfer an MKV movie file to this app using the internet, Infuse will show the movie art, cast and crew, description, ratings, run time, and more. The best thing (that even VLC lacks) is Infuse lets you play MKV and other local videos in Picture-in-Picture mode! It’s also available for Mac and Apple TV.
2) KMPlayer: Has tons of controls on an easy interface and is a good VLC alternative.
3) PlayerXtreme Video Player: Big, beautiful media controls. Offers a quick button to download subtitles, cast to TV, and more. (Image at the end)
4) PLAYit: Another free app that allows Picture-in-Picture for MKV and local videos on iPhone and iPad.
5) nPlayer: The free version may show ads in an annoying manner. But the app is well built, with easy controls, and supports Picture-in-Picture.
6) MX Player – VideoPlayer: Open the app and go to the Video section to see the transferred local MKV and other files.
7) Documents: As evident from the name, it isn’t a video app per se. But this excellent all-rounder app can easily play MKV files. So, if you already use the Documents app for your PDFs, docs, downloads, private web browser needs, etc., then you can transfer an MKV file to it and play inside it.
MKV is a fantastic open standard file type that allows having different audio files/audio languages, subtitles, and videos in a single package. It would be great if leading operating systems like iOS and macOS started supporting it natively like they do with MP4 or MOV files. But until that happens, the above apps and steps will take care of all your MKV files on all your phones and computers. You can learn more about MKV on Matroska.org.
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