I understand that the bundled apps for iPhone does not support AVI files. However, I have lots of these files which I want to watch on my iPhone.

Can you suggest a streamlined, automatic way of doing this? I have never watched videos on my iPhone or iTunes before and would appreciate step by step answers.


Use HandBrake to easily convert the AVI files to an iPhone compatible format then sync those converted files with your iPhone

Or, email/post them to Posterous, and they'll be auto-converted into a format watchable on your iPhone

  • Handbrake ftw..
    – Thomas
    Aug 13 '10 at 13:08
  • Handbrake ftl.. doesn't work with MKV + embedded subs
    – Robert Fraser
    Aug 14 '10 at 0:23
  • I encode MKV all the time in Handbrake. . . but not with subs. Hmmm I didn't know that.
    – Thomas
    Aug 16 '10 at 14:35

There are plenty of apps which will allow your iPhone to support .avi files...

For starters, there is the all-time favorite VLC (free) . You get the file-support and the friendly user interface like you're used to on your Mac.

Then there is AcePlayer ($2.99) which will even support more files, is extremely user friendly and this app is close to my favorite.

But my all time favorite app is CineX-Player ($1.99). They tend to do some actions where you can get this app with a discount (or even free).

All of these apps are easily managed by iTunes File Sharing:

enter image description here

They all support a lot of files (including your requested .avi), subtitles and they all have a nice and clear interface. I can highly recommend CineX-Player, but VLC is great as well and it's free!

  • VLC is no longer available on the AppStore
    – hellothere
    Aug 22 '12 at 4:46
  • Checking it now, July 30, it's available in the AppStore @hellothere. (:
    – Neeku
    Jul 30 '14 at 16:08
  • VLC was able to play my AVI's on iPad. Feb 28, 2016 Feb 28 '16 at 19:42

Quicktime will do this too: FileSave as and then choose iPhone from the format list.

  • Brilliant, my QuickTime Player had the File > Export Option Oct 9 '11 at 19:06

There are a lot of apps that support this. The best I've found is yxplayer in the app store or yxflash from Cydia (same thing for free, but requires jailbreak) -- good compatability, fast with non-HD content, etc. You can move the files over using either iTunes or any program that let's you access the filesystem like iPhoneBrowser, then watch them without the need for any conversions.

Conversion is not a good option:

  • Slow (often about 2/3 the length of the video, so you need to plan ahead)
  • Lossy (you will lose quality)
  • Larger files (usually)
  • Generally a pain in the ass

If you must convert, HandBrake (like the accepted answer suggests) is good but doesn't support all formats - xvid4psp in my experience is slightly better.

If you want to convert MKV files with embedded ASS/SSA subtitles (having spent >5 hours looking for a program that will work for this), version 4 of xvid4psp (doesn't work on Win7 x64) is the only program that will do this. v5/v6 of xvid4psp, HandBrake, etc, etc. will not work.

  • How can I import incompatible video files into iTunes anf then move them to my iPhone? Everytime I try to drop an avi file into iTunes, I get the "forbidden" mouse cursor.
    – Martin
    Aug 14 '10 at 7:39
  • @Martin - Once you get yxplayer, go to iTunes, go to your iphone/ipad on the left tree, and choose the "Apps" tab from the top. Scroll down a bit to "File Sharing" (that says "Documents" right under it), and click "yxplayer" from the list of apps. Then you can transfer documents from your computer (though you need to use another tool to transfer folders). Yeah, it's not that discoverable a feature, but Apple doesn't like things that aren't Apple.
    – Robert Fraser
    Aug 14 '10 at 9:07
  • There is no "File Sharing" section in the Apps tab. Does the iPhone need to be jailbroken for that?
    – Martin
    Aug 14 '10 at 9:53
  • 1
    @Martin - No it doesn't need to be jailbroken. A picture says 1000 words; I made a guide: nv3wrg.blu.livefilestore.com/…
    – Robert Fraser
    Aug 14 '10 at 12:55
  • Thank you very much, Robert (+1 for the tutorial). In now know, why I don't see the file sharing section. At the time I asked before, the app was not yet installed, but only downloadad. And when I tried to install it, I had to face the fact that it cannot be installed on my iPod touch. Shame on me. The iPhone is ordered, and I will definitely try this app.
    – Martin
    Aug 15 '10 at 8:09

I'm a big fan of flex:player for iPad, iPhone (3GS and above), and iPod touch (3rd gen. and above).

flex:player will play the AVI file without conversion. You simply have to transfer the file.

Flex player

To transfer the AVI file, you can use iTunes file sharing.

iTunes file sharing

Bear in mind that, depending on your device, you might experience stuttering if the video is HD. The iPhone 4 and above should be able to handle 720p content just fine, though.


Buzzplayer from the App Store plays AVI files and even embeds srt subtitles.

  • 1
    Can you provide a link to the app you mention in your answer?
    – Cajunluke
    Aug 22 '12 at 0:50

I suggest VLC for iOS. AVI is a "container" for many different video formats (codecs). VLC could be a good viewer for many of the different video formats that AVI supports. When starting the VLC for the first time it has a good wizard that tells you what to do step by step.

This is a brief step by step way of doing it:

  1. Download VLC for iOS in Appstore on your iPhone
  2. Connect your phone to your computer
  3. Open iTunes on your computer
  4. Select the iPhone icon
  5. Select Apps Scroll down to File Sharing
  6. Select VLC
  7. In VLC Documents click Add... and upload your AVI file
  8. Open VLC on your iPhone
  9. Select All Files
  10. Click your AVI file

You must log in to answer this question.