How to play MP3 files on an iPhone

It took us a bit of time to work this out, but the easiest way of playing MP3 files on an iPhone without paying Apple any money at all is as follows:

  1. Download the VLC Player from the app store. VLC is an open source media player that plays videos and audio files, and offers lots of easy accessibility options. VLC stands for VideoLAN Client (in case you wanted to know) and was developed following an academic project in Paris.
  2. Save your MP3 files on a device. Make sure you have the MP3 files saved on a device such as a PC or laptop connected to the same WIFI network as your iPhone.
  3. Open the VLC Player. Once the VLC player has been downloaded onto your iPhone, open it and go to network settings. One of the options in network settings is the WiFi sharing option, and if you switch this on you will see that an IP address comes up, normally looking something like http://123.456.7.8.
  4. Copy this IP address into a web browser on your device where the MP3 files are, and you will see an option coming up in your web browser from VLC to add files. You can either drag the files across from your file manager on the device, or you can simply click browse and open them. Once you have selected some files to open, click open and you will see the bar telling you that they have uploaded and either failed to upload or uploaded successfully.
  5. Go to the VLC player on your iPhone and simply click files or albums, and you will see that the files have now appeared on your iPhone.

Avoid Increasing Apple’s Profits

This clever and fairly nifty piece of software has circumvented all the issues surrounding Apple trying to control everyone’s music using Apple Music, subscriptions and costs to do something similar. In fact it is actually easier than the Apple system for moving MP3 files onto an iPhone, and hopefully VLC will remain free of charge to use for years to come. We have been working with the VLC Media Player since about 2003 and it has remained free so far, so here’s hoping it does in future.

What to Do if Access Fails

Occasionally when we have used VLC to MP3 file-share like this to an iPhone with MP3 files, it has failed and if this happens you simple need to do the same thing again to connect via WiFi and share the files across.

Converting Files to MP3

If you are looking for a way of converting files to MP3, please see our other article on converting CD files (CDA) to MP3 files using the NCH Switch sound converter.

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