Android iPhone and iPad

Top Free Ways to Stream Video from Your Computer to Your Mobile or Tablet

Simon Slangen 04-06-2012

One of the things I like most about modern tablets and other portable devices as opposed to laptops is that you can watch videos in your bed, on the sofa, or in the garden without feeling like there’s a fevered walrus sitting in your lap.


Then again, there’s the slight inconvenience of having all my media stored on my computer, and the tedious process of manually adding videos to your iPad through iTunes. It’s worth it, but not all that fun. That’s why I started streaming my videos from my computer to my tablet.

Before we get started, let’s clarify what I mean by ‘streaming’. Although some of the apps discussed below let you stream your video over the Internet, in general we want to stream the video over your local network. That way, streaming video won’t impact your Internet bandwidth, and streaming quality only depends on the speed of your router.

1. Connect To A Desktop Client Application

The easiest way to stream video to your device is probably to connect to a desktop client; an application on your main computer that’s ready to play ball with your mobile or tablet. This requires very little setup, and offers a high compatibility, as most of these client applications are ready to transcode files that don’t play natively on your device.


One of the most popular apps in this category is Younity. It’s packed with featured and has a modern, clean feel to its interface.

With the desktop app installed on your PC or Mac, and the mobile app on your Android or iOS device, you can access your computer’s files with ease. The Premium version is only $2.99 a month, and it gives you the ability to download any of the files from your computer for offline use.


Download for Android: Younity (Free) [No Longer Available]


Though the Android version hasn’t seen an update in a while, ArkMC remains a crowd favorite due to its simplicity and the fact that it doesn’t require a subscription. You can try out the Lite version for free and upgrade to the Paid version for $3.99 if you want ($5.99 on iOS).

The Lite version is fully-featured but only allows you to access 5 items per folder. Obviously that’s not a great long term strategy, but it should give you time to figure out if you want to commit to the Pro version.

Download for Android: ArkMC (Lite | Pro)


Download for iPhone and iPad: ArkMC (Lite )


Plex is notable for being on so many different devices, from Smart TVs to game consoles, and it’s just an overall solid media center with lots of features 8 Plex Tricks and Tips You Really Need to Know Plex is a stunning piece of software. Put simply, it lets you stream your media anywhere in the world, on any device, whenever you want. But there is so much more to it than that... Read More .

You can get a Plex Pass for $4.99 a month that gives you access to a ridiculous number of extra features, including a DVR function, automatic syncing, parental controls, multiple user access, lyrics, song identification, and more.

Download for Android: Plex (Free)


Download for iPhone and iPad: Plex (Free)

2. Connect To a UPnP/DLNA Server

A desktop client might give the best media compatibility and fastest set-up from scratch, but connecting to a UPnP/DLNA server gives more flexibility. The chances are you’ve already got a UPnP/DLNA server. Most media center applications double as a UPnP/DLNA server; this can usually be turned on in the preferences.

By default, these servers don’t transcode media. This means that the files visible on a UPnP/DLNA server are not necessarily playable on your device. Some of the applications listed below support other video filetypes, like AVI and MKV. Otherwise, you’ll need to convert some files in advance, or use a UPnP/DLNA server application that supports transcoding like MediaTomb (Windows, Linux) or PS3 Media Server (Windows, Mac, Linux).

BubbleUPnP [Android]

BubbleUPnP is one of the best Android applications of its kind. Although BubbleUPnP itself is no formidable media player, video playback can be delegated to other applications, so you can play virtually any media without transcoding or prior conversion.


If you’re looking for a good media player to accompany BubbleUPnP, check out Angela’s article on the 8 Best Mobile Video Players For The Android Phone 8 Best Mobile Video Players for Android Every smartphone needs a video player -- let us help you find the best one for your needs. Read More .


It should be noted that this free version of BubbleUPnP comes with some limitations. As such, the playlists you create are capped, music downloads are limited to batches of maximum 40 tracks, there’s a time cap on remote control of the local renderer, and there’s a limit of three plays per app launch when BubbleUPnP is called from an external application. All in all though, BubbleUPnP does what we want it to do.

Download: BubbleUPnP (Free)

3. Connect To An FTP Or SMB Server

Although UPnP/DLNA is a protocol that’s at ease sharing digital media, it’s not the only way to access a remote server or computer. Two other popular network protocols are FTP and SMB.

FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol, and it’s one of the standard protocols to share files over a network (e.g. the internet). SMB, also known as ‘Samba’, is the default way to share files and folders from Windows desktops, but you can also enable it on Mac OS X (System Preferences -> File Sharing -> Options) and add it to Linux.

ES File Explorer [Android]

ES File Explorer is a free Android file browser. It’s an application you may want on your Android device in any case, but the main features we’re concerned about are the ability to connect to remote network shares. This means you can view the contents of folders that are shared on your computer and, as a result, the video files therein.


Now, because ES File Explorer is not the video powerhorse we’re looking for, we’ll want to open these files in another application like MX Player. Again, if you’re looking for an Android video player, Angela’s 8 Best Mobile Video Players For The Android Phone 8 Best Mobile Video Players for Android Every smartphone needs a video player -- let us help you find the best one for your needs. Read More  is a good place to look.

There are also several alternatives to ES File Explorer FTP Transfer: 3 Popular File Managers for Android With FTP Software FTP may sound intimidating, but it's not! We can help you learn how to quickly and easily share files between your devices with these handy Android apps. Read More that you might want to check out.

Download: ES File Explorer (Free) [No Longer Available]

OPlayerHD Lite [iOS]

OPlayerHD Lite, as a rare case, is almost as magnificent as its premium counterpart. The main difference between these two is a very non-intrusive text ad. The application does everything we need; it lets you add SMB network shares and connect to FTP servers, making it easy to scour your computer for a video across a network.

stream video from computer to tablet

No need to outsource the rendering to another application; apart from browsing video sources, OPlayerHD also comes with a very decent video player. You can expect to play most any video file, with subtitle support added into the bargain. Other interesting features let you download these videos for offline enjoyment, and TV Out.

Download: OPlayerHD Lite (Free)

How Do You Stream Video?

How do you bring your video to your iOS or Android device? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: stockimages / Free Digital Photos

Explore more about: Media Streaming, Online Video.

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  1. Steve
    February 14, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    Es is complete garbage. It doesn't connect to anything only good for local file explorer use and has a sucky non-user friendly interface. Use a remote desktop for networking.

  2. Mark
    July 13, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Great compilation! I use ArkMC. it supports a wide range of different formats and it's compatible with my Xbox.

  3. Rajasekar C
    June 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    I use Infuse on iOS to stream directly from Pc after giving a static IP to my PC. No need for any apps.

    I have Plex and infuse supports Plex too.

  4. lina
    September 25, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    I use the app called ArkMC. It is like a swiss knife: it allows to stream music, videos, photos and even stream Youtube content on your mobile devices. The only thing that is important is that the devices must be in the same wi fi network. The quality of sound is awesome as it has Dolby sound support.

  5. Matt Henderson
    January 18, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    What about younity? It's free, easy to setup and doesn't require any file restructuring like plex does. Boo plex yay younity :D

  6. Anonymous
    November 16, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Here is what i need.
    My cousin downloads movie on his pc.
    I want my whole familr world wide to stream it fromtheir pc/ipad/tablet/mobile online.
    What is the suggestions. Please i need urgent advices.
    Ill pay for the right solution.

    • Tom Cruise
      January 3, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Buy DVD's and share them legally?

      • paul destrieux
        October 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm

        hahaha well done
        but if sharing with our selves is a crime then so is being short a crime!

    • Dane Druss
      February 5, 2016 at 1:11 am


      See Matt Henderson's comment above. younity lets you share your movies (individually and folders) with friends and family no matter where they are around the globe.

  7. Anonymous
    November 16, 2015 at 7:45 am


  8. Anonymous
    July 16, 2015 at 11:22 am

    ArkMC with YouTube share is the best fir these needs, even i 2015:)

    • Lina
      May 10, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Also use it though it as a "young" app, but has all features I need.

    • Lina
      May 10, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Also use it though it as a "young" app, but has all features I need.

  9. Dave
    May 19, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Can anyone recommend an app for android that will stream to my tablet/phone and will also allow me to use my phone as a remote control while my laptop is connected to the tv via hdmi? I normally use vlc on my laptop and don't mind paying for apps as long as it streams hi res and the remote control functions are pretty well thought out. Cheers.

  10. Andrew
    May 13, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Found a new one, This one doesn't need you to install app on your mobile devices, it use HTML5 browser to play the video. I think it's much easier to setup.

  11. oni
    April 28, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    I'm trying airplay it on android streaming from an imac, but the client is no more downloadable from the productor site, I've found it around as apk and installed it, but when I add my server the app crash...

  12. elrvengador
    March 14, 2015 at 9:46 am

    If you are reading this on 2015 use air video app, you are welcome

  13. A.B. West
    November 28, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Great informative article! Using Galaxy Tab2 with ES File Explorer. Used it with MX video player, FLV player, the really great DICE player. Tried it with Realplayer, Mobo player... a mass of players, among which DICE is outstanding. But my videos always stop about 15-20 minutes in. ES FE unexpectedly switches from LAN to LOCAL. And I have to go back to LAN and relocate the edition of HIGNFY or Real Time I’ve been watching on my PC. Really messes up my insomnia remedy. I have a really strong WIFI signal, so it’s not that. Are you familiar with this behavior? Do you think Air Playit would present the same problem? Or should I try to figure out how to use ES FE as FTP host? Appreciate any suggestions you might have.

  14. Simon Slangen
    November 15, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for the tip!

  15. Rustam
    November 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I use ArkMC for Android. It works good for me. Able to playback movies from WD NAS, stream movies from Tablet to TV, control my DLNA/UPNP devices in local network

  16. Anonymous
    October 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    For iOS devices, Air Video is the best, hands down.

  17. Chris
    September 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    XBMC is up and coming for Android. I've been playing with it on an android computer on a stick. Search Amazon for mk802 to see what I picked up. As such I've been playing with various streaming options to get content to the TV via a wireless connection. Skifta and MX Player is a good combination to use. I use that to connect to the free Serviio media server on my Windows desktop from Android. I've used Skifta, from the Android phone, to push content from the computer as well as from the phone to the WDTV box connected to a TV as well. That might be the solution for the person wishing to push content from the Android device to something else instead of pulling content to the Android device.

  18. paul hendrick
    September 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    hi, is it possible with any of these programmes to stream sopcast from my pc or samsung galaxy tab to a samsung smart tv?

  19. Vijay
    September 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I have used almost all of them, but I like Emit for its simplicity. As it is multithreaded, you can even transcode a HD video on-the fly and tream it to your android.

  20. Maz
    August 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    And you forgot Windows Media Player.

  21. Stu
    July 25, 2012 at 9:17 am

    How on earth did you manage to miss Plex on this article? It is a fantastic media streaming application and has a servers for Mac, Windows and Linux and provides client applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone making it probably the most cross-platform out of all solutions mentioned here.

    • Doug
      August 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Probably because Plex isn't free - last time I checked, anyway. The server is, but neither the IOS nor the Android client are.

  22. Mike
    June 21, 2012 at 6:41 am

    can I use the PS Media Server for streaming videos to my Samsung SmartTV?

    • Simon Slangen
      June 21, 2012 at 7:18 am

      This should work if the SmartTV supports DLNA (which I think it does). :-)

  23. Sacha Obado
    June 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Its worth checking these solutions out.. i have and i am using airplayit

  24. GamE
    June 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    better use hdmi

  25. Ilyas Mohammed
    June 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I like to have one. cool

  26. GamE
    June 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    excellent can ne body explain about dlna server ?

    • Simon Slangen
      June 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      Essentially, you've got a DLNA streaming application / server where your video is located, and a remote video player / client / renderer on mobile device.

      If you open the DLNA client on your tablet, it should be able to find the DLNA server that's on your computer. The server will tell the client which videos are available, and once you've made your choice, begin streaming it to your tablet.

      A lot of software to stream videos locally works the same way, but DLNA/UPnP is the industry standard.

  27. Fernando Buzi
    June 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I'm looking for an app that would allow me to do the opposite: stream live content from the tablet to the pc. Say broadcast Filmon's TV content to my laptop, so that I can watch it big screen on the Projector. Do you know of any app that can do this? I use a Samsung GT 7500.

    • Simon Slangen
      June 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Fernando,

      So far, I haven't been able to find a wireless or cheap solution that provides a sufficiently high framerate for video. Depending on your tablet, you might be able to connect it to the TV using the the right cable.

      That being said, there are several projects that allow you to mirror your (rooted) Android device to your computer if you can live with a low framerate.
      - AirDroid
      - MyMobiler
      - Android Screencast

      Hope that helps.

      • Rustam
        November 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm

        I use ArkMC for this. It streams few HD movies at the same time.

  28. Smith Scavo
    June 5, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I like Air Playit very much due to its supporting of so many video codes.

  29. Dalsan
    June 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    TVersity works well, also. Can be used in the network or via internet. The desktop app streams with transcoding capabilities to almost any device connected to the network or internet, either through the internet browser or upnp app. I use it to stream to our DVD (DirecTV receivers), Wii, Playstation 3, XBox 360, tablets, cellphones, and other computers throughout the house. It has music streaming capabilities as well as pictures, and the ability to stream over the internet so you can be out of the home to access them at any time.

    • Simon Slangen
      June 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Dalsan. I think you need the pro version of TVersity for media transcoding, though. PS3 Media Server is a good free alternative.

      • Dalsan
        June 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        I have used it for a year, you may be right, but have had no problems. I have the free version and have the transcoding option on, the only time it told me I needed to purchase the pro version for transcoding was when I tried to stream to an iPad.

        • Simon Slangen
          June 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm

          Ah, yes, that must be it. The TVersity website says real-time transcoding is enabled in the free version "except iPad/iPhone/iPod".

        • Kylee Kanavas
          October 2, 2012 at 1:29 am

          Where did you get it?

        • DalSan Mack
          October 2, 2012 at 2:17 am

          Shortly after this posting, TVersity became a pay for program. You might be able to get the older version elsewhere, which is free to user, just no more support for it. Here is an older freeware version.

  30. Sachin Kanchan
    June 4, 2012 at 7:32 am

    loved the OPLayer

    • Simon Slangen
      June 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Protip: you can also send video files to OPlayer HD from Safari on your ipad by adding an 'oplayer:' prefix to the URL, e.g. [Broken URL Removed] ;-)

  31. Jason Ivey
    June 4, 2012 at 4:12 am

    I have found Emit to work really well for my wife's Kindle Fire when remote. When at home, I have been using the Bubble Upnp with great success for both the Kindle Fire and a Rom'd Kindle Fire. I am going to give Air Playit a try, never heard of that one.

    • Simon Slangen
      June 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      Cool, let us know how it compares to your experience with Emit.

  32. Josh Vogler
    June 4, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I'll 2nd the option of using ES File Explorer and MX Video Player. I have yet to run into a video file that hasn't been able to be streamed this way. You need a better file explorer anyway if you have an Android, plus a video player that will play more file types. I feel these are must have apps already, so it's a bonus that they make it really easy to stream videos also. If you take the time to setup bookmarks in ES of your network shares video directory, you can be watching a remote video in just a few clicks.

    • Simon Slangen
      June 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      You're absolutely right. A friend tipped me off to ES FE and MX VP to stream videos, and I've been using it more and more myself as an alternative to the desktop clients. It has the added benefit of being able to browse video files from e.g. a friend's computer without much prerequisites. :-)