How to Jailbreak a Roku Device

Is it even possible to jailbreak your Roku?

It's not possible to truly jailbreak a Roku or other streaming device. Nonetheless, there are several ways to stream media from another device via your Roku to watch content outside of the Roku Channel Store.

Instructions in this article apply to all Roku streaming devices, including Roku Streaming Sticks and Roku TVs. Steps are the same regardless of the manufacturer (TCL, Sharp, RCA, Philips, Insignia, Hitachi, Hisense, Element, etc.).

Sharp Roku TV example
Sharp

Can You Jailbreak a Roku?

Jailbreaking is the process of modifying a device so that a user can bypass restrictions placed on the device by the manufacturer that normally prevent the installation of unauthorized software. Technically, Rokus are jailbreak-proof because these devices run a closed operating system that is accessible only to approved developers. However, there are workarounds to play content on a Roku device that isn't offered through the Roku Channel Store. These options include:

  • Screen mirroring.
  • Screen casting.
  • Playing content via local network or USB.
  • Using the Play On Roku feature via the Roku Mobile App.

Roku uses the terms screen mirroring and screen casting interchangeably, but these terms are different. Each feature will be discussed separately.

What Is Roku Screen Mirroring?

If you have an Android phone or Windows PC (iOS devices are not supported) and a Roku, you can use a feature called screen mirroring. On some devices, this option may be referred to as Miracast, while HTC incorporates screen mirroring via HTC Connect. Other smartphone brands and devices may use different terms. No network connection is required since your devices can communicate using Bluetooth.

With screen mirroring, everything you see on your smartphone (including streaming services, apps, photos, videos, web pages, and other content not available through the Roku platform) is displayed on your TV screen. The smartphone's menu bars and status icons appear on your TV as well.

However, while using screen mirroring, you can't perform other tasks on your phone. If you tap another icon, the content ceases playing. You also have to use the device you are mirroring from to manage your content; you can't use a Roku remote control while mirroring.

All 4K Ultra HD Roku TVs support screen mirroring, but this may vary for 720p and 1080p models. Check the user guide for details.

How to Enable Screen Mirroring on a Roku

To display the screen of a PC or phone on a Roku device:

  1. Activate the screen mirroring/Miracast feature on your Android Phone or Windows PC from the required settings.

  2. Press the Home button on the remote, then select Settings > System > Screen Mirroring.

    Roku TV — Screen Mirroring Option via Home Page
  3. In the Screen Mirroring menu, select from the following modes:

    • Prompt: The Roku displays an on-screen prompt each time you initiate mirroring.
    • Always Allow: Screen mirroring is enabled any time it is detected. There is no on-screen prompt.
    • Never Allow: Screen mirroring is never allowed unless you change this setting.
    • Screen Mirroring Devices: Choose either Allowed Devices or Blocked Devices. If the Always Allow or Never Allow options have been chosen, you can't use this selection.
    Roku TV — Screen Mirroring Prompts
  4. If you selected Prompt on the Screen Mirroring Mode menu, a prompt bar appears on the bottom of the Roku screen when it is time for you to connect your device. Select Allow and the device connects to the Roku.

    Roku TV Screen Mirroring Connection Prompt

    Roku uses the term cast, but in this case, it refers to screen mirroring.

If you selected Always Allow in the Screen Mirroring Mode menu, the device automatically mirrors.

Roku TV Screen Mirroring Example with KODI

What Is Roku Screen Casting?

Another way to bypass Roku jailbreaking restrictions is to view content by casting. This feature only works for select apps, but casting is supported on both Android and iOS.

Casting to a Roku device will not work with KODI, Mobdro, and many content platforms. If a smartphone app is compatible with casting (YouTube and Netflix are two examples), the cast icon appears near the top of the smartphone screen.

Since you can only cast from apps that have a corresponding Roku channel, the usefulness of this feature is limited for jailbreaking purposes. Still, screen casting directly from YouTube on another device is often easier than navigating the built-in YouTube app for Roku.

How to Cast to a Roku

Your smartphone may require you to set up or install an additional app before casting can be used. Once your device is capable of casting:

  1. Make sure the device and Roku are on the same Wi-Fi network.

  2. If not already installed, add the desired channel app to the Roku's home menu. For example, to cast from YouTube, download the YouTube channel from the Roku Channel Store.

  3. Launch the app you want to cast from on your device. You do not need to open the matching streaming channel on the Roku.

  4. Tap the cast icon from inside the app (usually displayed in the upper-right corner). With some apps, the cast icon may not appear until you begin playback on your device.

    With casting, only the chosen content shows on your TV screen (device menu bars and status icons aren't visible).

    The YouTube app with the Cast button highlighted
  5. Select the Roku from the list of available devices on your phone or tablet.

Playback of the casted content will begin. However, casting channels that support user profiles (such as Netflix) may require that you select your profile with the Roku remote before playback will begin.

You can perform other tasks on your casting device. The content continues playing on the Roku until you close the app.

Play Content Stored on a PC, Media Server, or USB

Another option is to play content stored on a PC or media server on your Roku through your home network. To do this, check to see if the Roku Media Player App has been pre-installed on your TV. If not, find it in the Roku Store and install it.

This app allows you to access music, photos, and videos from PCs and media servers that are connected to the same home network. The app is also compatible with several media platforms such as PlayOn, Plex, Serviio, Tversity, Twonky, and Windows Media Player.

For more details on compatible digital media file formats, refer to the Roku Media Player support page.

How to Play Content Using the Roku Media Player App

To view media content from other devices using the Roku Media Player App:

  1. In the Media Type Selection screen, select the media type.

    Roku media player menu example
  2. Choose the device that has the content you wish to play.

  3. Find the content you want to play and press OK or Play/Pause on the Roku remote.

    If the content is in an unsupported file format, it will not appear on the screen.

  4. To stop playback, press the back button on the Roku remote.

Using the Roku TV USB Port

Roku TVs also include a USB port for playing stored photo, audio, and video files from an external flash USB drive. For USB playback, locate the USB input on the back of the Roku TV and insert the USB device.

If the Roku Media Player app is not installed, you are prompted to add it from the Roku Channel Store. When Media Player is installed, an on-screen prompt asks you to launch the USB drive.

Roku Media Player - Select USB Drive

The Roku Media Player App supports drives that are formatted with the FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, and HFS+ file systems.

What Is Play on Roku?

Similar to screen mirroring and screen casting, the Play On Roku feature allows you to display and send media from a smartphone to a Roku using the Roku mobile app. Play On Roku supports the following file formats:

  • Photos: JPG and PNG.
  • Video: MP4, MOV, and M4V.
  • Music: MP3 and M4A.

DRM-protected media files, such as M4P files, are not supported.

How to Use Play On Roku

To use this option, download and install the Roku app on your smartphone or tablet. Open the Roku app and tap Media at the bottom of the screen, then select Connect and wait for your mobile device to detect your Roku. Once connected, you're taken to your media library where you can select the photos, videos, or music you want to share on your Roku.

How to connect to a Roku TV from a mobile device