I have a bunch of movies/TV programmes on my computer that I want to transfer to an iPad. As far as I know, the only way to do this is to first add them to iTunes (on a computer), then synch iTunes with the iPad.

Some of these movies are .avi files and others are .mp4 files. I've selected the Films section of the iTunes Library and opened the "Home Movies" tab. I've tried several ways of add the files including:

  • The "Add File to Library..." menu item (in the file menu)
  • The "Add Folder to Library..." menu item (in the file menu)
  • Dragging the file from windows explorer and dropping it into iTunes

For some reason this fails for all the files except one. The one that works is an .mp4, but strangely none of the other .mp4 files (or any of the .avi files) appear in iTunes after I try to add them to the library.

Is there some reason why this one particular .mp4 would work but not others? Is there another simpler way to transfer these files to the iPad? I'm using iTunes 11 on Windows.

4 Answers 4


The answer to your first question is yes.

Edit: The answer to the second is yes, please refer to: How to transfer a movie (.avi) from pc to iPad without iTunes?.

The reason it does not work is because an avi file is a container file, which encapsulates the underlying video and audio codec.

The video can be encoded with mp1v to mp4v, DIV 1 - 3, H264 or WMV, within the avi/mp4 files.

You will need to retranscode the movies so that the underlying format is acceptable to iTunes.

This can be done with vlc. There is a bug with vlc 2.1 which reduces the quality of movies, so I recommend using vlc 2.0.8. I am running Mac os x 10.8.5.

Start VLC:

press: +O, which will open the "open Source" window: enter image description here

  1. Click Browse ... Select your video file to be transcoded.
  2. Tick Streaming/Saving
  3. Click Settings...

You will then have to select the file name where to save the transcoded file, select the encapsulation method (which is "Quicktime" below). Then select the transcoding options, you will also need to set the bitrate which will set the quality, and the scale. enter image description here The above settings work for me you may have to play around depending on your individual set up.

It was tested with vlc 2.0.8 and Mac OS X 10.8.5

  • 1
    Good answer, complete with illustrations! I never knew VLC could do all these!
    – XCool
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 1:42

This is from the Apple Support site:

What video content works with iTunes and mobile devices?


  • Video content purchased from the iTunes Store.
  • QuickTime and MPEG-4 movie files that end in ".mov", ".m4v", or ".mp4" and are playable in QuickTime Player.
  • Video podcasts.
  • iTunes Digital Copies.
  • iTunes Store Movie Rentals (Requires iTunes 9 or later).

I've had luck converting non-compatible video for iTunes and i devices with Handbrake, a multi platform, open source video converter.


It turned out that the reason I couldn't import most of the .mp4 files into iTunes is because they were read-only. If you try to import a read-only .mp4 file into iTunes it fails, silently. Once I removed the read-only setting they imported successfully.


Actually iTunes can only accept MOV, MP4 and M4V videos, AVI is definitely not one of them. So you should save avi to mov/mp4/m4v and then you will be able to successfully transfer video to iTunes. For those MP4 that cannot be moved to iTunes, they may not in QT or MPEG4 codec, and they also need re-transcoding.

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