Great! You have all your home videos as digital files!

Now let's get watching them on your smart TV.

There are two factors involved in whether your smart TV can play the video files on your USB drive.

  • The format of the drive
  • Whether your TV can read the MP4 video file

Let's talk about the drive format. There are three types of USB drive formats we will discuss for video files, exFAT, NTFS, and FAT32. We format our USB drives as exFAT to be compatible with both PC and Mac computers, as well as most smart TVs, but not all. Some smart TVs will require the USB drive be formatted as NTFS. The third possibility is FAT32 which has a file size limit of 4GB which means it can't hold larger video files at all.

Check your TV's owner's manual for specifications on the format of USB drive your TV will accept. If it requires NTFS, then you can follow the steps below to convert your USB drive format.

  1. Put your USB drive into your computer and copy all the files to a folder on your computer.
  2. VERIFY THAT ALL THE FILES COPIED SUCCESSFULLY! You can do this by selecting all the files on the USB drive and then right-click. Click on Properties and note the size of all the files. This will likely be a number followed by "GB" (gigabytes). Now do the same for all the files on your computer that you just copied. The numbers should be the same.
  3. Go to the USB drive, right-click, and choose format. Select NTFS and OK. Important: This will erase everything on your USB drive. Be sure you have completed Step 2 first.
  4. Copy all the files from your computer folder back onto the USB drive. Once complete, eject the USB drive from your computer.
  5. Now insert the USB into your TV, change the Source/Input to the USB and it should recognize your video files.
USB Drive for smart TV

NOTE: If you don't feel comfortable doing the steps above, and your TV needs NTFS, just return your USB drive back to us and we will convert it for you for free.

Now let's look at the file format. The MP4 file format is very common and can be read by most smart TVs. However, if you've followed the above steps and your TV still won't recognize the video files, it is likely a lack of this capability of your TV. That doesn't mean your TV is defective, it means it wasn't designed to read the MP4 format. This problem is more common with lower-end and off-brand TVs.

Remember, you can also watch your videos on a computer. The files can also be streamed via Bluetooth to your smart TV.

Using USB drives on smart TVs

Looking for a better Media Player for your video? We recommend VLC Media Player. It is free, open-source, and works on Windows and MacOS.