So you’ve got a video on your computer that you want to watch on your iPad. You can transfer that video in a variety of ways, and we’ll explain everything you need to know to do it.
There are some pitfalls to watch out for, but whichever video you have, when you read this you will be able to watch it on your tablet screen wherever you are, with or without an Internet connection .
Copy videos to iPad using iTunes
The simplest method for most people is to use iTunes, Apple’s music software available for Mac and PC. We’ll focus on Windows computers here, but the process is very similar if you have a Mac.
TIP: This method is free and simple as long as your video is compatible with your iPad. It will play popular formats including MP4, MOV and M4V, but if your video is not supported, you can convert it for free.
If you don’t already have iTunes on your computer, you’ll need to download it from the Microsoft Store – an app built into Windows 10 – and sign in to iTunes with your Apple ID.
Once done, connect your iPad to the USB port on your computer using the cable you normally use for charging – the Lightning cable. (If your iPad is newer, it may use a USB-C cable.)
If this is your first time using iTunes or connecting your iPad to your computer for the first time, you’ll see a prompt asking if you want to allow access. Approve this, then on your iPad screen tap ‘Trust this computer’ and tap your passcode.
Look for an icon that appears, like the arrow below, representing the device you’ve connected it to – iPad or iPhone.
Click it and you may be shown a prompt to download and update to the latest version of iPadOS, but you don’t need to do this to transfer the video.
Instead, click Movies in the bottom left menu, and assuming you haven’t copied any other videos to your iPad, you’ll just see a blank canvas.
My favorite way to import videos is to open File Explorer in Windows (the shortcut is to hold the Windows key on your keyboard and press E).
Navigate to the folder where your video is located – it might be in This PC > Videos, but it might be in the Downloads folder if you downloaded it from the internet.
Once you’ve found the video, click and drag it into the empty pane in iTunes as shown below. Let go of the mouse button and the video will be transferred to your iPad: a blue circle showing progress.
Here’s the pitfall: if the video isn’t compatible with your iPad, you’ll see a message like the one below explaining that the video won’t be copied because it’s unplayable.
If this happens, you can try one of the other methods below or convert the video to maybe be played with your iPad.
To do this:
2. Click File, Add files to Library…
3. Browse to the video in the window that opens, click it to select it, then click Open
4. The video will be added to iTunes. Use the drop-down menu to select Movies (US Movies).
5. Click Video Home (highlighted in blue below).
6. Click on the video you just added and it will have a blue border around it
7. Click File > Convert and then click “Create iPad or Apple TV Version” (choose the iPhone option if you are copying videos to iPhone)
8. You’ll see the new version of the video appear in the Videos list on your home page (or iTunes might crash and quit, just like on my PC). If it has been successfully converted, you can transfer it to your iPad by dragging it from the list to your iPad as shown below.
If you can’t use iTunes to convert the video to the right format, you can learn how to do it with other software in our separate guide to converting videos.
How to Play Transferred Videos on Your iPad
Once the video has been copied from your computer to the tablet, here’s how to watch it.
Open the TV app (with an arrow); this app replaces the older Video app that you might be looking for and not finding.
In the Gallery section, tap Home Videos and you’ll see the video. Just tap it and then tap Play.
How to transfer videos to iPad without iTunes
If you don’t want to use iTunes, or if your video isn’t in a format that iTunes can play, then you might prefer to use a third-party app to copy the video from your computer.
There are many apps that can do this. Our favorite is the WALTR 2.
One is WALTR 2. It’s not free at US$39.95, but it’s very, very good. The simple drag-and-drop interface brings many benefits when transferring files to your iPad or iPhone.
When you drop a video on it, it analyzes it and tries to find metadata (including cover art), then converts the video into a playable format – if necessary – before sending it to the device. your iOS device.
Videos are placed in the correct folder so they appear in the original Videos app: all without iTunes. There is also the option to use Wi-Fi to transfer files, but the fastest way is to use a Lightning cable.
If you don’t want to pay for WALTR 2, there are free apps that can play videos in any format, but they tend to require you to copy the file over to iTunes.
There are various apps available, including the free VLC Player. Unfortunately, many such apps have had to remove codecs as required by law and no longer support surround sound (AC-3 and others).
This means that any video with surround sound will play without any sound. You have to convert your video in a suitable application and make sure 0 surround is converted to stereo.
PlayerXtreme Media Player (without iTunes)
One free app that has consistently received excellent reviews is PlayerXtreme Media Player by Xtreme Media Works. This allows you to transfer video using Wi-Fi, but for speed and reliability we recommend using a USB cable.
Check out our broader guide to playing any video format on iPad to learn about some more options. Obviously, install whatever apps you’ll be using before following the instructions below.
The first day, Connect your iPad to a computer with the latest version of iTunes. As explained above, grant access if requested on both your computer and iPad. Your iPad will appear to the right of the arrows near the top. Click the icon that appears there and then click File Sharing in the menu on the left.
In the File Sharing section, click the appropriate video app – in this case, PlayerXtreme.
Click the Add File… button and navigate to the video you want to include on your iPad. Select one or more and click Open at the bottom of the dialog box. Don’t forget to select any subtitle files that come with the video.
The movies will start being copied to your iPad – a progress bar is displayed in the pane at the top of iTunes.
Once they’re transferred, you can disconnect your iPad, launch PlayerXtreme, and the video will be there, ready to watch.
Note that playing video formats not supported by iOS will use up the battery faster unless the app can use hardware acceleration (which PlayerXtreme can).
Use video downloader app
If you don’t want to have to connect your iPad to a computer running iTunes, there are other ways to upload movies to your iPad. One is to install a video downloader app. Using the app’s built-in web browser, you can go to YouTube or another video streaming site and find the video you want to watch.
Once it starts playing, a pop-up will appear giving you the option to download or save the video. You may have to enter a name for it or it may automatically get the name from the website.
These apps tend to disappear from the App Store quickly due to Apple’s policy on potential piracy, so we can’t link to any specific apps.
However, you can check out our separate guide that explains how to download YouTube videos to your iPhone or iPad.
Download from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video
If you have a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription, you can now also download content from both of those services. If you want to give it a try, we have a dedicated guide to downloading videos from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
If you’re not sure what to watch, we’ve also rounded up what we think are the best movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Catch up TV show download
Many TV channels have their own apps, and some let you download shows.
BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and the All 4 (Chanel 4) app all let you download TV shows (including movies) to your iPad. iPlayer and gives you 30 days to watch the content you download, while you are limited to 7 days with ITV Hub and when it comes to All 4, that depends on when the show was originally broadcast .
Neither My5 nor UKTV Play allow you to download shows at the time of writing, but this could change in the future.
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