Since the invention of the internet, piracy and free media services have existed in some form. It began in the late 1990s with music piracy, which became incredibly popular following the expansion and eventual shutdown of Napster. As internet speeds began to increase, while rolling out to more consumers at affordable prices, so to did the popularity of torrents and piracy. Limewire and Frostwire began to take the place of Napster, eventually followed closely by the popularity of full music torrents. Movies and television shows, bolstered by the increased ease in downloading larger files, began to find themselves in a similar situation as the music industry. Even as both Hollywood and the record labels adjusted to the internet revolution, offering services like Spotify and Netflix in place of piracy, illegal services continued to grow just as simple and easy to use as the programs made to curtail the consumption of pirated content.
Outside of illegal Kodi services, Popcorn Time is perhaps the simplest way to stream movies online with little effort or know-how on the part of the user. Though the app was shut down in 2014, several different versions of Popcorn Time has sprung up in their place, featuring everything from Windows, Mac, and Linux versions to smartphone applications, and even web-only versions that allow you to stream within your browser. Not all of these versions of Popcorn Time are official, or even safe, but the ones that are developed by creators of the former base are typically proven to work well overall. Using Popcorn Time is actually surprisingly simple, with an easy to use interface and options to control playback through VLC instead of the built-in player. Popcorn Time is more or less designed for watching on your laptop, but plenty of films are designed for large screens. If you’re a Chromecast user, you might be looking for an easy way to stream that content from your Popcorn Time client to your television. There’s a few different ways to accomplish this, but we’re happy to say that it’s pretty easy if you’re looking in the right place.
So whether you’re looking to marathon the new season of your favorite television show, or you want to watch the newest Blockbuster film, you can grab your laptop or smartphone, turn on your TV, pop some popcorn in the microwave, and get ready for a night at the movies—all from within your own house. Let’s take a look.
A Note on Legality
As we’ve mentioned previously with programs like Covenant on Kodi and Showbox on Android, Popcorn Time is not a legal service. Piracy laws vary depending on your country, but for most of our readers based in the United States should understand that piracy services like Popcorn Time are absolutely illegal. Typically, most ISPs in the US will monitor and watch for illegal services being used on their bandwidth, and though you can typically get by without being noticed, Popcorn Time seems to set off alarms at a higher rate than other standard torrent interfaces. By no means are we advocating using Popcorn Time for your standard movie consumption. Movies are products as much as art pieces, and by paying for the films you enjoy (either at the theater or by paying for a copy of the film on digital or BluRay), you encourage both new projects from the people working on those films, and to create sequels or follow ups to those films you enjoy.
With that said, using Popcorn Time comes at your own risk, along with your own understanding of the repercussions that can come following the use of this software. If you do decide to use Popcorn Time to stream films, you’ll need to keep in mind that Popcorn Time can get you into some serious trouble with your ISP or the MPAA, an organization made up of studio members that have been known to sue users of pirated content in the past. The safest route to using Popcorn Time is to purchase a VPN subscription; you can find some of our favorites at our roundup here. It’s worth noting that, because of how the Chromecast functions, it may be worth considering that your VPN on your computer or phone won’t cover the stream when broadcasting to your Chromecast device. You may want to consider adding your VPN to your home network in order to automatically protect your browsing.
Popcorn Time Versions
As when any application shuts down and reappears in open-source formats, various versions of Popcorn Time have emerged from the web over the past four years, all claiming to be the proper follow-up version of getpopcornti.me, the original name of the platform. Some platforms have taken the name and interface of Popcorn Time, despite being completely unrelated to the service altogether (this can be seen in online services, like Popcorn Time Online, that aren’t discussed by fans of the platform in any major light). Other versions come from fairly trustworthy sources, but have also spread misinformation about other forks of Popcorn Time, leading to the confusion of users online and a general mistrust for some of the platforms.
Overall, the recommended version of Popcorn Time online is the .sh version, which is supported by the official Popcorn Time subreddit and has a fairly strong reputation preceding it. That said, despite the official social accounts and subreddit advocating for the use of the .sh domain, some people still argue in favor of the .to version to be used by anyone looking for a replacement version for Popcorn Time. Nevertheless, we’ll be using the .sh version throughout this guide. Despite the lack of confirmation that PopcornTime.sh is the correct and official version of the new app, it’s been nearly two years since the .sh version of Popcorn Time launched, and we’re willing to commit to the idea that this is the official version of the app, and not some of the other content online. We’ll only be using software provided through the PopcornTime.sh version of the app, and for all intensive purposes, will be ignoring other channels that may promise different versions of the software.
How to Cast Popcorn Time
In reality, there’s a few different ways you can gain access to using your Chromecast with Popcorn Time, each with their own complications, limits, and benefits. Choosing the one that’s right for you can be a bit of a pain, but because each option has its own ability to be supported for Chromecast streaming on your network, it’s surprisingly easy to get your streams up and running. Patience is the keyword with each of these methods, but once you pick the option that is right for you, you’ll be happy and satisfied with how surprisingly easy it is to get your favorite movies and television shows on the big screen.
The Easiest Way: The Android App
With that preamble out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the app. PopcornTime.sh offers a few different versions of their streaming app to choose from. While the standard PC, Mac, and Linux versions have their own abilities to cast over your network that we’ll cover below, it’s the Android version of the app we’re going to take a look at first. Unsurprisingly, Google hasn’t allowed Popcorn Time to list the app in the Play Store, thanks to its streaming piracy abilities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t install the Android app directly from the PopcornTime.sh website. The app, which is available for Android phones and Android TV, downloads as an APK installer from the site, and only requires the ability to install apps from unknown sources be enabled in your settings menu. You can find the Android version of the app on their site here.
Once you have the app installed on your device, you’ll find a modern Android interface that makes it easy to browse new releases for both movies and television shows. The app looks good, with an look that matches exactly what we’ve come to expect from Android apps. Browsing through the lineup of the Popcorn Time app on Android feels like navigating through Google Play Movies. Clicking on a selection for each movie shows a gorgeous display of information, with information on fan reviews (though it’s worth noting almost every film seems to receive 3.5 stars), the option to stream in different resolutions, links to the trailer, and a description of the film. The trailer function does seem to be buggy if your video player is set to “Internal,” but what you’re really here for is the ability to stream movies on your network. The good news is this: it’s really, really easy to use the Android app to stream your favorite movies and television shows.
The most important part of the app for our general use, however, is the ability to cast over your network. You’ve probably noticed the small Cast icon in the top-right of the display. This cast interface allows you to stream to any network-connected device. The Chromecast is, by far, the most important aspect of this utility, though you’ve probably noticed that other devices like any Roku or Fire Stick players will also appear on your device. While we haven’t been able to get our Roku player streaming our favorite Popcorn Time movies yet, the good news is that our test Chromecast was able to pick up the stream without any major issues. Since your phone is simply telling the Chromecast where to play the video through a URL, streaming over our home network was fast and easy, and as with any standard Chromecast-supported app, also allowed us to control the playback right from our phone.
You don’t need the Android app for Popcorn Time to use the app with your Chromecast of course, and we’ll cover two solutions below for those iOS users or anyone looking to limit their use to their computer instead of having to use the Android app for playback. But, as we’ll see below, the PC version of the app has some difficulties, and doesn’t always work well. That doesn’t mean you have to use the Android app, but it is our preferred method considering how simple it is to use the program.
Streaming Over WiFi from Your PC
Not everyone has an Android phone, of course, and iOS users will want to take comfort in the fact that they aren’t completely out of luck when it comes to streaming their favorite shows and movies online through Popcorn Time. There are still two options left, though both require a bit of patience. If using the Android application isn’t an option for you (or if you aren’t interested in installing the Android app), the PC version of Popcorn Time has Chromecast support built in, even if it isn’t perfect. When you first boot up Popcorn Time on your computer, you’ll likely be unclear where to look for the option for your Chromecast. The secret is to click on a film or television episode, which will then present you with a number of options. Like on the Android app, you can view a synopsis of the film, along with an IMDB link, a user ranking, the option to add the content to your bookmarks, and the health of the stream.
However, we’ll be turning our attention to the bottom-portion of the device, where you’ll typically find the “Watch Now” button. Clicking Watch Now will allow you to start playing back content immediately, but it has its limitations generally. The Popcorn Time player, Butter, is solid but imperfect, and it’s why plenty of people choose to use VLC instead. Typically, selecting your video player is done by clicking on the Butter icon next to Watch Now, which will display a menu of playback devices. As in the photo above, in addition to Butter and VLC, you’ll also see streaming options with any supported players, including smart TVs, Airplay devices, and Cast options (identifiable by the Cast icon).
A cursory glance at the Popcorn Time subreddit will prove that Chromecast support can be a bit buggy on PC, with plenty of users reporting difficulties getting the icon to appear. It seems that not every Chromecast works perfectly, but changing your Chromecast name and diving into the settings can often help ensure that your Chromecast is picked up by your device. If you’re still having problems, you can take a look at our solution below for streaming local content, or you can submit a post on the Popcorn Time subreddit. The crew that services that network has a habit of being pretty helpful when it comes to basic troubleshooting, and should be able to solve any recurring issues with Chromecast once you provide details on your network setup, your version of Popcorn Time, and any other helpful information.
If the Android application isn’t your style, and you’re having difficulties using the PC version of Popcorn Time, you aren’t out of luck quite yet. There’s one more solution you can partake in, though it isn’t a perfect solution compared to what you may be expecting by clicking on this article. Any veteran users of Popcorn Time can tell you that streaming their content, while normally an easy solution and alternative to downloading each piece of content, can also be a bit frustrating. That said, Popcorn Time allows any user to download the content right to their device by using the magnet link in the top right corner of every film. You’ll need a torrent client to download these films, but saving content from Popcorn Time to your device is still easier than any online torrent site. If you’re new to torrent clients, we suggest qBittorrent, which works on Mac, Windows, and Linux without ads and as an open-source client. Once you have qBittorrent installed to your device, clicking that magnet link will automatically launch the app on your device (so long as you followed standard installation instructions and made qBittorrent the default for magnet links).
When the film finishes downloading, you have a few options for what to do next. You have the full video file stored on your PC, which means you can use a Chromecast-enabled video player. You’ll find plenty of players on the web if you look hard enough, but here’s two of our favorites:
- Videostream: Videostream was originally a Chrome app, but unfortunately, Google’s shutdown of the Chrome app store for everyone but Chrome OS users means you’ll have to rely on the Windows or MacOS version of the app to stream your content. Still, this new version of the app is great, with support for Chromecast and Android TV and the ability to easily cast videos from your local computer to your television without any sort of hiccups or problems. With mobile apps available for both Android and iOS, it’s easy to control your playback without your computer nearby, which means streaming your content has never been easier.
- Stremio: Stremio requires you to download the player to your computer, but once you have it installed, you can use the platform like a cleaner, closed-source Kodi. Add-ons include YouTube, Netflix, and more, but the real reason to use Stremio is its support for Chromecast using your local videos. Like Videostream, it’s a great workaround if you’re having difficulties using the Chromecast utility built into Popcorn Time’s desktop client.
Both of those platforms work well enough, but if you want to take it to the next level, you can also take your locally downloaded content and place it into a full-fledged streaming platform using Plex. Setting up Plex is as easy as downloading the service to your computer and installing your server, and once you add your content to your client, you can use the web client inside of Chrome to stream directly from your Plex server to your Chromecast. Plex used to be a fairly-difficult app to learn, but with the changes made in recent years over the development of the app, it’s never been simpler or easier to learn how to control your network server. As long as you set qBittorrent to download automatically to the same folder you use for your Plex server, Plex should be able to automatically update your library when changes are detected. It’s a bit more work than just using Videostream or Stremio, but there’s a fair amount of advantages to using Plex as well—most notably the ability to watch your content wherever you are and being able to use apps on non-Cast hardware like a Roku or your smart TV.
At the end of the day, it’s difficult to say which method for casting your entertainment is right for you. Are you more interested in trying to use the mobile Popcorn Time app to broadcast your favorite movies and television shows from your network to your television? Do you want to try using the basic Popcorn Time PC application to cast automatically, without any extra work on your part? Or would you rather download your films and television episodes to your computer, which solves any buffering issues but requires manual content deletion and the patience to wait for your download to finish before watching your content? Each method has its fair share of downsides and positives, so it’s important to remember that there’s a whole crowd of redditors who are willing to help other Popcorn Time users over at the official subreddit.
In our eyes, the mobile Popcorn Time app is the easiest way to stream content from Popcorn Time to your television, considering the lack of additional software and the interface for the mobile app being much-improved over the basic desktop app. But there’s reasons to use all three apps, from the simplicity of the PC version of the app to the lack of buffering when each film is downloaded. Even Plex, a utility that takes some time to set up, offers the flexibility of a permanent server app with applications on dozens of platforms. Whichever method you choose, one thing’s for sure: as soon as you decide to start watching movies through Popcorn Time and casting over Chromecast, it’ll be difficult to switch back to what you knew before.