I'm considering purchasing an Apple TV. I understand that I need to include movies in iTunes in order to play them on the device. On my iMac, my movies are linked in iTunes over a shared drive to my NAS — when I play video, does the file stream from my NAS, to my iMac, and then to the Apple TV? Or is the Apple TV intelligent to understand the remotely linked file?

I'd like to avoid the unnecessary bandwidth on my network.

  • 2
    ATV Connects to iTunes, not a drive. iTunes is responsible for storage and content management, whether NAS or DAS or Internal storage. ATV fetches content over IP, locally, or via iCloud (based on which ATV you have).
    – user63628
    Dec 7, 2013 at 19:39
  • 1
    Apple TV does one thing - play content from multiple network sources (some with local caching as well). An interesting twist is which NAS are amart enough to emulate iTunes home sharing and/or Apple's cloud storage and media broadcast streams...
    – bmike
    Dec 13, 2013 at 10:57

12 Answers 12


To answer the op's exact question, "No, ATV is not intelligent enough to stream directly from a NAS". Others have pointed out some options, like using ATV2+Plex, or PlexConnect (which is VERY difficult to setup).

Let me thrown my $0.02 in by saying that unless you're running your iMac over wi-fi, this will work fine. Even with my older 802.11g network, my Mac mini (hooked up to Ethernet and thus hooked up "closely" to the NAS) could pull the files off the NAS and stream them (over wifi) to the ATV. No issues at all. I'm on 802.11n now, and it's handling 1080p streams no problem (don't remember if I tried that on the "g" wifi). In fact, with the Mac on Ethernet, it can download new videos from the iTunes Store while serving up content from the NAS to the ATV. It's really not a lot of bandwidth. You can check in the Activity Monitor. I'm always surprised by how little bandwidth it uses.

However, if your Mac is on wifi too, I could see that there could be some problems, but a "n" (or "ac") grade wifi should be able to handle it.

  • I don't understand your answer. You say no not possible, then say it should work fine. Are you suggesting adding a particular player to the AppleTV? Or video server on the NAS?
    – TSG
    Mar 17, 2021 at 1:54
  • My answer is that the answer to the actual question was a "no", you couldn't stream directly from a NAS to an ATV at that time. That was over 7 years ago, though, and we didn't have ATV4's yet, which now allow various apps. There might be ways to stream directly from a NAS now, something like VLC I would guess. But, my recommendation at the time was to use iTunes (now Music and TV apps) and Home Sharing to stream from the Mac (which gets the files from the NAS) to the ATV. This is essentially what I still do today, but swapped the NAS for USB drives attached to the Mac.
    – jimtut
    Mar 17, 2021 at 12:44

It may not suit you, but, if your NAS is capable of running Plex, you can add PlexConnect script to any Mac/Windows computer in your house, which will allow you to hijack the Trailers application in the AppleTV (2nd/3rd gen., no jailbreak required) and have it stream your movies/TV shows from Plex in your NAS box. Google Plex and PlexConnect to find more.


If you're planning to go for a NAS, Plex and ATV then I suggest you use PlexConnect and follow the instructions found here. The best thing about this is that you don't have to jailbreak your ATV. Personally, I'm very satisfied with it!


If you can get an AppleTV 2nd generation (which can be jailbroken unlike the 3rd generation, for which a jailbreak hasn't yet been found and probably never will be), you can jailbreak it and install FireCore's aTV Flash. With aTV Flash, you can stream directly from a NAS, which works very well. Otherwise, you're stuck with streaming through iTunes.

Another option (which may or may not be suitable for you) is to get a Roku instead of an AppleTV.


I bought an Apple TV with the same goal, to bad it's not working. I tried Plex, but didn't satisfied my needs as my NAS isn't powerful enough for my needs.

My current setup exists of an iPad, connected to my TV/Video-projecter with an Lightning-VGA/DVI adaptor. The iPad is able to play video's directly from the NAS (or other media's), even AVI-formats. I'm using MoliPlayer HD (free) now, but there are other applications we can use.


there are some NAS' out in the stores witch have the possibility to have an itunes on it so you can stream to your apple tv via this itunes.

i use it like this old macbook pro with itunes and webserver, also i have enabled a samba share for the windoof pc's in my household and 2 external harddisks connected to it.

macbook acts like a nas.


aTV Flash black lets you jailbreak your Apple TV and it has many additional features but one of the the best is it will steam from a NAS device directly to ATV. No Computer/phone/iPad required. However, details on which NAS devices needs some more research.

  • Note: this only works for a 2nd gen black AppleTV boxes. The current, 3rd generation boxes, being sold in stores are not capable of running this jailbreak.
    – Ian C.
    Dec 31, 2013 at 21:35

Use Air Video HD app. I don't know enough about the tech side to explain, but it works. Installs on the Mac and iPad / iPhone, and operated from the iPad.


What kind of NAS are you using? In stead of trying the Apple TV to play movies from a NAS, you can think the way around where the NAS can stream movies to the Apple TV over Airplay. Of course, you'll need a computer/browser/iPad to initiate the movie, but from on then, all computers can be off as the NAS will play and stream.

Synology DSM 4.x can do this, pending on the hardware you can play more or less video formats.

Myself, I'm using the free VLC for iPad which can play directly from a NAS and can Airplay it to an Apple TV.

Too bad Apple isn't supporting this directly :(


Install the NAStify Player app from the app store, not pretty but works fine.

  • 3
    Could you elaborate on that?
    – bot47
    Dec 5, 2015 at 10:10

Works well for me using iPad/iPhone app PlayerXtreme The App can access all network computers NAS devices etc (very smart at doing this) and AirPlay to Apple TV.

It also downloads music, photos, videos etc to your iOS device so you can play at another location or at your home base.

Playing from a local Downloaded file within the PlayerXterem App may help your wifi traffic.

No need to contemplate jail breaking.

I have played a 4K video from a NAS to TV via this app and AppleTV where the TV cannot handle 4K direct (only 1080), but somehow Playerxtreme via AppleTV works. Normal stuff works smoothly but 4K file sizes will have your network working hard.


Directly from a NAS? No. Not with the software that Apple provides.

The currently-sold ATV (4th gen and later) can, however, stream from a Mac via Home Sharing. If your Mac's Music app (for example) is set up to play music from your NAS, then Home Sharing will in turn stream it to an ATV.

You don't need to leave the Music app running (as was the case with the old and now-defunct iTunes streaming), but the Mac needs to be on-line, since you're not streaming directly from the NAS, but instead from the Mac, which in turn reads content from the NAS.

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