How To Play Xvid and Divx Videos on Apple TV

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Apple TV is now able to play Xvid and Divx videos, having been hacked only a few days after its release. Videos widely downloaded through bittorrent and usenet are usually in the open source Xvid video format. Apple TVs new found ability to play Xvid videos will save users from having to convert them, a step which can take up to an hour.

To play Xvid and Divx files on Apple TV, you will need:

  • Torx 10 screwdriver
  • 2.5 hard drive enclosure (recommended: macally enclosure)
  • Perian, a QuickTime component
  • Save As Mov, an AppleScript droplet

There are detailed steps on how to remove Apple TVs hard drive but the basic steps are:

  • Remove the hard drive from your Apple TV.
  • Connect the hard drive to you Mac.
  • Copy Perian to the Apple TV drive.
  • Reconnect the drive

Perian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats. With Perian installed, QuickTime is able to play Xvid video files, as are iTunes and Front Row. Because Apple TV runs OS X, its possible to install Perian on Apple TV. After downloading Perian, simple copy the file Perian.component to /Library/QuickTime/ on the Apple TV drive.

Now that the Apple TV can play Xvid and Divx files, iTunes must be tricked into syncing these files. Though with Perian installed iTunes can play Xvid files, iTunes will not allow you to copy Xvid videos to the Apple TV without some effort. iTunes will normally only sync movies in officially supported video formats: H.264 and MPEG-4.

To make iTunes believe your Xvid or DivX videos files are in a supported format, they must be re-saved as a self contained movie. This is easily done by dropping Xvid and Divx videos onto Save As Mov. Save As Mov is an AppleScript droplet that flattens the video in about a minute, and then saves it as a self contained movie. These video files can then be added to iTunes, which will sync them with Apple TV without a fuss.


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11 responses to “How To Play Xvid and Divx Videos on Apple TV”   RSS

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  1. 1Keith
    While youre there with that baby cracked open, you might as well upgrade the hard drive as well
  2. 2Jason
    The big question is whether we will have to crack open the AppleTV, extract the HD and instal Perian every time Apple sends out an update for the box. I like having a DivX solution but wonder if it is worth it, especially if Apple decides to make a regular habit of flashing the AppleTV to prevent people from watching illicitly obtained video.
  3. 3Scott
    Has anyone gotten this to work? I have Perian on the disk and I have ssh connectivity so everything is is place but even after creating the flattened move iTunes refused to sync this (iTunes 7.1.1 (5))
  4. 4Anonymous
    Scott, I have the same problem. I installed Perian and Flip4Mac, ssh, and created ref mov to my entire library, imported to iTunes (can play back successfully via iTunes), but the TV fails to sync with an error message on iTunes for those files every time. Anyone successful with this?
  5. 5Sam
    Same problem here. every hack works.. except cant sync .mov/Xvid to the AppleTV (plays fine under iTunes)
  6. 6Romain Dardour
    Ive been doing that for quite a while with my Mac mini and Front Row plus Perian 1.0 SVN.It allows me to embed subtitles inside the .mov files.

    But beware, as Ive encountered a quite disturbing bug :

    If your source file has AC3 audio, the .mov will have garbled sound, VLC wont play it, and, most of all, Ive found no way to go back from .mov to .avi without re-encoding so these files for now are lost to me as the audio gives buzzes.

    Reference .mov movies work fine on the other hand.

  7. 7Sam
    So how do you play the movies? I cant even stream them from my Macbok Pro They dont show up in the list on the AppleTVIm going to try centerstage instead
  8. 8Scott
    Ive also found the iTunes wont sync any reference movies, even references to valid ATV movies. Havent tried streaming from the reference movies yet.
  9. 9Scott
    FYI Here is what I had to do to get the modified ATV to play a Divx/AC3 file.1) take 1 valid h.264/ACC .mp4 file and 1 DivX/AC3 .avi file and use QT to save as .mov files
    2) the valid h.264/ACC .mov file into itunes and let it Sync with ATV
    3) using ssh to login to ATV find that file in the /mnt/Media/Media Files – something like ./F05/
    4) sftp the DivX/AC3 .mov file into /mnt/Media/Meda Files/F05
    5) mv to
    6) mv to

    At this point it still doesnt play movie2, it plays movie1

    7) reboot ATV holding down the (menu+ -) on the remote.

    After reboot the DivX movie plays but is still labeled movie1 in the listing.

    This is far far from ideal but does isolate the problem to iTune filtering the content.

  10. 10Romain Dardour
    A follow up on the previous comment I made (#6) :The latest SVN build of A52Codec does work, as the problem was fixed:

    Now QuickTime and iTunes do read my previously garbled files.

    VLC Still cant recognize the audio inside them, so beware, .mov is still not the best container format for AC3 :

    main: no suitable decoder module for fourcc 'ac-3'.
    VLC probably does not support this sound or video format.

    So now, for the more adventurous, you can import files into iTunes, by opening the AVIs with Quicktime, and then use Save As>Self contained.

    Youll get a .mov file approximately the same size as the original .avi, and you will be able to import it to iTunes, and do anything with the metadata.

    As a bonus, you can even combine 2 disc movies into single .mov files, and itll work seamlessly!

    Apple TV should sync this regular contents properly now.

  11. 11Nilesh
    The folks at have made progress on making applets. First download ATVFiles and install on Apple TV. This adds a file browser that will allow Apple TV to play any file.Then use SymbolicLinker to make a symlink to the location of your divx/xvid files. Simply making an alias to your video folder will not work. Place that symlink in /Users/FrontRow/Movies on the Apple TV.

    Launch Apple TV and youll see a new menu item called Files and then your symlinks. You can store your xvids on an external drive then.

    This works especially well when running Apple TV on an Intel Mac.