If you’re heading out of town or to the gym with your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, and you want to load it with videos for the road, you’ve got a couple of options for filling it up with those yummy, legitimately downloaded .avi and .mkv files (which I’m absolutely, positively certain you didn’t get via Bittorrent, because that would be wrong).

Option 1: The Hard Way

  1. On your Mac, use HandBrake to convert each file to an iPad-friendly .mp4
  2. Still on your Mac, drag your .mp4 files into iTunes to add them to your iTunes library
  3. Connect your iPad to your Mac with a physical cable and wait for eons while your iPhone or iPad runs through the entire backup and syncing cycle. Your video files will now show up in the “Videos” app under “Movies” (even if they are TV shows).

Option 2: The Expensive Way

On your iPad or iPhone, access the iTunes store and buy or rent the videos you already have on your Mac. It feels annoying, wasteful and stupid but it recently occurred to me that this is what normal people must do in the absence of torrents and HandBrake.

Option 3: The Cheap and Easy Way

Klexi episode description shows link to download episode

Downloading a video in Klexi

With all those .mkv and .avi files on your Mac, I’m going to assume you’re already using Plex. If you’re not, start: it is going to rock your world!  (Read my 2010 Home Media Center Overhaul and Documentation Festival for more on the awesomeness that is Plex.)

  1. Buy Klexi for your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch ($5.99 on the App Store)
  2. Launch Klexi on your iOS device (if you’re used to using Plex on your iPad, iPhone or iPod then Klexi will feel very familiar) and select your Plex server (i.e. your main Mac).
  3. Navigate to the TV show or movie you want, choose the download option, and sit back while Klexi downloads your selected video(s) over your local wifi network.
  4. When you get to the gym or the plane, relaunch Klexi and this time choose your iOS device’s local library (rather than your Plex server). Your video(s) will be waiting for you to watch.

My point in a nutshell? Klexi makes it stunningly easy for any Plex user to transfer videos from a Mac to an iOS device. Install it today.

UPDATE: After a month of using Klexi I can report it’s slightly more temperamental than I originally realized. You need to turn off your iPad’s autolock so Klexi doesn’t go to sleep mid-transfer; best bet is to leave your iPad plugged in, out of contact with your magic cover (if you have an iPad 2) with Klexi running in the foreground. Which brings me to another issue: apparently iOS kills a background process after 10 minutes, so you can’t leave Klexi transferring files while you play Scrabble. Finally, I have found that even apparently successful transfers sometimes refuse to play, so if you are critically dependent on a transfer (say, you are 3 weeks behind on Gossip Girl and have a transcontinental flight that will let you catch up) make sure the files are playable before you leave your home and server.