How can I use an iPad to view video files that are stored on an iMac in the same local network?

The only idea I have so far, is to set up a HTTP server on the iMac, and browse the video files with Safari on the iPad.

Does OS X provide a more elegant way to do this?

4 Answers 4


You can use iTunes Home Sharing.

For it to work, you need two thing:

  • All your movies in mp4 for iTunes (Ideally with Metadata and Images, looks cleaner and is easier to search on the iPad)
  • An iTunes Store Account

You then put all the movies in iTunes, leave it open and activate "Home Sharing" in iTunes->Preferences->Sharing

Sharing Preferences

Check "Share my library on my local network"

Then, go on your iPad, make sure you are connected with the same iTunes ID and go in the standard Video app. You shall see you library that can be shared. Tap it, let it load and there you go, you have access to movies from your iPad! (it also include TV Series)


Take a look at Plex.

Depending on how you'd like to configure Plex on your iMac, you can not only serve your media on the LAN, but also securely over the WAN to your personal iOS devices - or to a web browser.


In addition to the excellent suggestions of Plex and iTunes Home Sharing, have a look at Air Video. You run the app on your iOS device, and download the free server component to your Mac or PC. You point the server program at your files, and it handles all streaming and transcoding (so you can use formats iOS doesn't support).


I've tried both Plex and Air Video and they're both decent. I'm now using StreamToMe because the (serving Mac) CPU utilization is significantly lower using StreamToMe's server component (ServeToMe) than the other two in my experience. I tested ServeToMe on an old white MacBook Core 2 Duo w/ 2 gigs of ram. Upon selecting the media (video in my case) file to view on iOS, the server component of all three of these softwares begins to encode the file in real time (as I understand it) to stream it to the iOS device. With StreamToMe the beat up old MacBook was still usable while it was encoding a video and with the others it had a lot more trouble keeping up.

All the Best

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