Best Way to Play MKV on Apple TV

author By Cory Thompson, November 10, 2015

We often see people asking "Can Apple TV play MKV files?". Well good news, thanks to some cool third-party software, the answer is yes!

This article will show you two of the best ways to play MKV files on your Apple TV.

  1. The instant and easy way - Stream MKV to Apple TV instantly using PopCast
  2. The slower but free way - Convert MKV to Apple TV (MP4) format using HandBrake and iTunes

1. The instant and easy way - Stream MKV to Apple TV instantly using PopCast

PopCast is an easy-to-use media player for Windows and Mac that can play all the popular video formats (much like VLC does) but can also stream the video directly to Apple TV and Chromecast devices.

There are a few advantages of using PopCast rather than converting your files to Apple TV (MP4) format:

  • You can start playing your MKV files instantly
  • You don't need to mess around with video conversion settings
  • Your hard drive won't fill up with multiple versions of the same video

Step 1 - Download and install PopCast

a. To get started, choose the download link below for Windows or Mac.

Download PopCast

b. Once downloaded, double click PopCastSetup.exe.

Step 2 - Run PopCast and instantly start streaming your videos

a. Once you've installed PopCast, you can open it from the Start Menu/ The PopCast window will appear.

b. Next, drag and drop one or more MKV files onto the PopCast window. The first of these files will immediately start playing on your computer screen.

c. Finally, select your Apple TV from the popup devices menu at the bottom left of the PopCast window. The video will start playing immediately on your Apple TV.

2. The slower but free way - Convert MKV to Apple TV (MP4) format using HandBrake and iTunes

If you'd rather not spend any money and don't mind waiting before playing each file, another good option is to convert your files to Apple TV's video format, MP4, which can then be streamed to your Apple TV using iTunes.

Step 1 - Download and install HandBrake

a. To get started, choose the download link below for Windows or Mac

Download Handbrake

b. Once downloaded, double click HandBrake-x.xx.x-x86_64-Win_GUI.exe on Windows, or open HandBrake-x.xx.x-MacOSX.x_GUI_x86_64.dmg on Mac and drag the icon to your Applications folder.

Step 2 - Run HandBrake and convert your files

a. Once you've installed HandBrake, you can open it from the Start Menu on Windows, or the Applications folder on Mac. The HandBrake window will appear.

b. The first thing you'll need to do is select the preset "AppleTV" from the "Presets" panel on the right of the HandBrake window.

c. Next click the Source button. When you do, a panel will appear below it. Select the option to "Open a single video file", and a window will appear in which you can select the MKV file you wish to convert.

d. Now you need to tell HandBrake where to save the converted file. To do this, click the Browse button on the right of the Destination box. A window will appear allowing you choose the location and name of the file. Choose the folder (e.g. your Desktop or external hard drive) and then name the file to match the original file you are converting, but replacing ".MKV" at the end of the file name with ".MP4". So, for example, if you are converting a file called "Holiday Adventures.MKV", you can name the destination file "Holiday Adventures.MP4". Once you have named the file, click OK to close the file selection window.

e. Next, simply click the Start button. You will then have to wait while the video converts. This can take up to an hour, or even more, depending on the length and size of the video.

Step 3 - Run iTunes and stream your MP4 file to your Apple TV

a. If you don't already have iTunes installed, you can download it from Apple's website (click here to visit the iTunes download page: http://apple.com/itunes/download)

b. Once you have iTunes installed, you can open it from the Start Menu on Windows, or the Applications folder on Mac. The iTunes window will appear.

c. Click on the "Movies" icon at the top left of the iTunes window

d. Open your File Explorer window (on Windows) or Finder window (on Mac) and locate the MP4 file you created in Step 2 above.

e. Drag and drop this file onto any blank space below the words "Home Videos"

f. Click on the "Home Videos" option

g. Double click the file and it will start playing on your computer screen

h. Finally, click the button next to the volume control and select your Apple TV from the popup menu. Your video will start playing on your Apple TV.

Today we've covered two of the best ways to play MKV files to your Apple TV. This technique can also be used to play AVI, MOV, WMV, MPEG or most other video formats.