The iPad has developed over the years into a great travel companion, boasting both a huge library of apps/games to keep you entertained as well as a beautiful display to watch movies on. But what about those of us that don’t like using iTunes? How do we add movies to our iPads? We’ve come up with two viable ways of adding movie files to your iPad without the need to use iTunes.

There may be people asking “why wouldn’t you just use iTunes to transfer movies to your iPad?” and there are reasons – mainly issues regarding file formats. Many video formats aren’t compatible with iTunes (and therefore the iPad) which means that people are missing out on the opportunity to watch their video library from their iPad. Even if you do find a video that’s iTunes friendly, you must first import them into your iTunes library and then finally sync them to your iPad. It’s a long process, and one that needs simplifying.

Here’s how to download movies to your iPad without using iTunes.

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How to download movies to iPad without iTunes: Use Cloud Storage

There are two viable options when it comes to transferring movies to your iPad without using Apple’s iTunes, and the first is to use cloud storage. Using cloud storage is the simplest way to transfer movies to your iPad, but it may also be the longest way – especially for larger files. 

There are many third-party storage options that have accompanying iPad apps, with Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive being the popular options. Offering 2GB of free storage when you sign up and 500MB for every referral (up to 16GB), Dropbox seems to be the most popular service.  So, to start with, make sure that you’ve downloaded the Dropbox app from the App Store on your iPad and installed the Dropbox folder on your PC or Mac.

To transfer a movie, simply copy and paste the movie file from your computer into the Dropbox folder. Now comes the part that could take a while – depending on the size of the file and your internet connection, it could take up to a few hours to sync the movie to Dropbox. You’ll know once it has finished syncing because it’ll have a green tick next to its icon.

Once its finished syncing, you can open the Dropbox app on your iPad and find the newly added movie file. If you have an active internet connection, you can just tap to play and the movie should start streaming on your iPad – however if you want it for offline use, simply tap the Star in the top right hand corner to save the movie to your device.

If you want to export the movie so it’s available in the Photos app, that’s also an option. Once you’ve selected your movie, tap the Share icon in the top right hand corner and tap on Save Video. It’ll then export the video from Dropbox, ready to be accessed via the Photos app.

See also: Best external storage for iPhones and iPads

How to download movies to iPad without iTunes: Third-party software

If waiting for hours on end for files to sync isn’t your idea of a good iTunes workaround, then maybe our second option is: third-party software. iExplorer is a personal favourite of ours as it allows you more freedom to interact with your iPad storage than iTunes does (amongst other things). However for this workaround to work, you’ll also need to install a third-party video player such as Player Xtreme HD (which is free) from the App Store.


Once you’ve installed both pieces of software, plug your iPad into your computer. If it’s the first time that you’ve plugged the iPad into the computer you’re using, unlock the iPad and tap “Trust”. Once you’ve plugged in your iPad, open iExplorer and your iPad should automatically be detected and displayed. From here, you’re free to browse its file system as well as any iTunes backups that you have on the computer.

For the task at hand, select the “Files” menu and then select “Apps” which will take you to the folders contained in your iPad’s app directories. From here, select and expand the PlayerXtreme folder (click the arrow next to the name) and open the Downloads folder inside. Once you’ve found the Downloads folder, simply drag and drop the movie file from your computer into the folder. 

The movie should then start to transfer, so give it a few minutes to complete – there’s a progress bar in the bottom right hand corner to keep an eye on the progress.


Once it has been completed, open the Player Xtreme HD app on your iPad and you should see the movie that you’ve just added. From here, select the video and it should start to play in-app. Simple! 

How to download movies to iPad without iTunes: WALTR

iExplorer is a great option, but there’s something better for Mac users – WALTR. Unlike iExplorer, after 14 days of use you’ll have to pay $29.95 (£20) for WALTR, but you’ll be paying for a quick and easy process that’ll add videos almost any video type (MKV, AVI and MP4 included) to your native Videos app. It negates the need for a third-party video player on the iPad, which in turn should conserve battery life, as stock apps are always more battery efficient.

So firstly, download WALTR from the Softorino website. As we mentioned earlier, it’s free to download, install and use for 14 days but if you still want to use it after that, you’ll have to pay. Once you’ve installed the app, open it and plug your iPad into your Mac (PC version is coming soon according to Softorino).

Once you plug your iPad into your Mac, it should be automatically recognised by WALTR. If you’re unsure if the right device is connected, the name of your device will be displayed at the top of the WALTR window. From here, you can either click the ‘+’ icon to browse your library for the movie you want to transfer to your iPad, or you can do something far quicker – just drag and drop the file into WALTR.

Once you’ve selected your file, the file should start to upload to your iPad. The process is quick – a lot quicker than any other alternative we’ve mentioned, and quicker than a full iTunes sync too. The whole process of selecting and adding a 200mb MP4 video took under 15 seconds in our testing, which is pretty impressive.

Once the process has been completed, you’ll be able to access your newly sync’d movie via the Videos app on your iPad. It’s worth mentioning that the same process can also sync alternative audio formats such as CUE, FLAC, APE, ALAC, OGG, AAC, AIFF and WAV to the Music app without any level of compression or conversion.

If you want to find out any more about WALTR, check out the Macworld US review

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