How to Play a MP4 Video on an iPad

By Carol Finch

Learn how to transfer MP4 video files to iTunes from your computer so you can watch them in an iPad's Videos app.

The iPad supports the MP4 video format, as long as it is encoded to Apple's specifications. To watch a video online or through an app, simply tap the Play button. To play MP4 videos stored on your computer, transfer them to iTunes and sync them to the iPad, so you can watch them in the device's Video app.

Transfer MP4 Files to iTunes

Step 1

Open the File tab. Select Add File to Library to add a single MP4 file; if you have a folder of videos to import, select Add Folder to Library.

Tip

You can also open File Explorer to add files by pressing Ctrl-O.

Step 2

Select the file and then the Open button.

Locate the video file or folder in the Add to Library File Explorer window and select it. Select Open to transfer the MP4 to iTunes.

Step 3

Check that the MP4 file is in the Movies, TV Shows or Music areas.

Check the file has imported. Select the Movies button to see MP4 movies and home videos; select the TV Shows button for TV shows. Music videos typically go into the Music category.

Tip

If iTunes stores the file in the wrong category, change its settings to move it to the correct one. Right-click the video and select Get Info. Open Options and choose a new classification from the Media Type box. Select OK to move the video.

Warning

If a video won't transfer to iTunes, its encoding may not meet Apple standards, and you may need to use a third-party app to convert the file. If you aren't sure about the technical specifications for videos on your iPad, check it out on Apple's Tech Specs page.

Add the MP4 to the iPad

Step 1

Drag the video to the iPad icon and release it on the iPad's name.

Connect the iPad to iTunes. Go to the MP4 video you want to transfer and drag it up towards the iPad's icon. This opens a menu on the left of the screen. Hold the video over the iPad's name in the Devices area until it highlights blue and then release it to add it to the device.

Step 2

Open the iPad icon to access its menu.

Select the iPad's icon to open its menu.

Step 3

Select the storage area that contains the MP4 file.

Select the location of the video from the options in the On My Device area to check that the video has transferred.

Tip

  • If the video doesn't sync to the iPad automatically, select the Sync button on the iPad's menu screen.
  • Sometimes, an MP4 transfers to iTunes but won't sync to the iPad, as its format may not be compatible with the iPad's specifications. Select the video in iTunes and open the File tab. Select Create New Version and then Create iPad or Apple TV Version. This converts the video to iPad specifications, allowing you to transfer it to the device.  If you find the conversion affects the quality of the video, it may be better to use a third-party app to convert it.
  • You can also set up iTunes to automatically sync files to the iPad.
  • You can also download MP4 videos you've purchased from iTunes in the past from your iPad without using iTunes.

Play the MP4 on the iPad

Step 1

Open the Videos app.

Tap Videos on the iPad's Home screen to open the app.

Step 2

Find the video, open it and tap Play to watch it.

Locate the video in Movies, TV Shows, Music Videos or Shared, depending on its type. Tap the video to open it and then tap Play to watch it.

Tip

  • Videos from music albums may also be stored in the iPad's Music app. To play a video in Music, open it and tap Play.
  • If a video in the Music app doesn't appear in the Videos app, transfer it so you can watch it offline. Select the video and tap the icon with three red dots. Select Make Available Offline to copy the file.