How to Jailbreak Roku TV

Is this even possible?

Sharp Roku TV Example
Sharp Roku TV Example. Sharp

We have bad news regarding jailbreaking Roku devices: You can't. There are some options, however, depending on what you want to do.

Bad News For Jailbreakers

In the tech world, Jailbreaking is the process of modifying a smartphone or other device so that a user can bypass restrictions placed on the device by the manufacturer that normally prevents the installation of unauthorized software.

Unlike some smartphones and devices, Roku is jailbreak proof. That is because it employs its own closed operating system and is accessible only by approved developers. This means you can't Jailbreak a Roku TV (or streaming stick or box).

On the other hand, there are workarounds to play content on a Roku TV not directly offered through the Roku Channel Store or via the Private/Non-Certified Channel adding process.

The options include:

  • Screen Mirroring
  • Screen Casting
  • Playing Content via Local Network or USB
  • Using the Play On Roku feature via the Roku Mobile App

NOTE: The terms Screen Mirroring and Screen Casting are often used interchangeably. Roku also interweaves the two terms. However, mirroring and casting are different. Each will be discussed separately.

Use Screen Mirroring

Roku Screen Mirroring Example
Roku Screen Mirroring Example. Roku

If you have an Android smartphone or Windows PC (iOS devices are not supported) and a Roku TV, you can use a feature called Screen Mirroring. No network connection is required.

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.

All 4K Ultra HD Roku TVs support Screen Mirroring but this may vary for 720p and 1080p models – Check your user guide for details.

  • With Screen Mirroring, everything you see on your smartphone, including streaming services, apps such as KODI, Mobdro, photos, videos, web pages, and other content not available through the Roku platform are displayed on your Roku TV.
  • In addition to content, the smartphone's menu bars and status icons appear on your Roku TV.
  • While using screen mirroring you can't perform any other tasks on your phone. If you tap another icon, the content will cease playing.
  • You also have to use your smartphone or other devices you are mirroring from to manage your content – you can't use your Roku TV remote control while mirroring.

Enable Screen Mirroring for a Roku TV

  1. Activate the Screen Mirroring/Miracast feature on your Android Phone or Windows PC first via their required settings.
  2. Press the Home Button on your remote and go to Settings > System > Screen Mirroring.
Roku TV — Screen Mirroring Option via Home Page
 Roku

Once you reach the Screen Mirroring option, select from the following modes:

  • Prompt: Your Roku TV will display an on-screen prompt each time you try to 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: You can choose Allowed Devices or Blocked Devices. If the Always Allow or Never Allow options have already been chosen you will not be able to use this selection.
Roku TV — Screen Mirroring Prompts
 Roku

If you select Prompt on the screen mirroring mode menu, when it is time for you to connect your device, a prompt bar will appear on the bottom of the Roku TV screen. If you select Allow from the prompt bar, your device will connect to the Roku TV. NOTE: Roku uses the term cast, but in this case, it refers to screen mirroring.

Roku TV Screen Mirroring Connection Prompt
Roku

You can't designate a device without it attempting to connect to the Roku TV first. If you have Always Allow previously selected in Screen Mirroring Mode Menu, the device will automatically mirror without being on the Screen Mirroring Devices list first.

Use Screen Casting

Roku Screen Casting Example
Roku Screen Casting Example. Image provided by Roku

Another way to bypass Roku TV jailbreaking restrictions is to view content via Casting. This works only for select apps. Casting is supported on both Android and iOS devices.

  • Casting to a Roku TV 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 Logo (note the photo above) will appear near the top of your smartphone screen of the app you want to cast.
  • With casting, only the chosen content shows on your TV screen (no phone menu bars or status icons).
  • As content plays, you can perform other tasks on your phone at the same time including finding other content to cast, make a phone call, or turn the phone off.
  • The casted content will play on the Roku TV until you change to another app, channel, or setting on the TV.

Your smartphone may require pre-setup or installation of an additional app before Casting can be used.

To cast to a Roku TV, follow these steps

  1. Make sure your mobile device and Roku TV are on the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. If not already installed, add the desired channel app to your Roku TV's home menu.
  3. Install the matching mobile app on your phone or tablet.
  4. Launch the app on your mobile device. However, you do not need to open the matching streaming channel on your Roku TV.
  5. Tap the casting icon from inside the mobile app (usually displayed on the top right corner). With some apps, the casting icon may not appear until you begin playback on your mobile device.
  6. From the list of available devices on your phone or tablet, select your Roku TV.
  7. 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 your Roku TV remote before playback will begin.

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

Another option is to play content stored on a PC or media server on your Roku TV 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 and install it from the Roku Store. This app allows you to play music, photos, and videos from PCs and media servers connected to the same home network. The app is also compatible with several media server software platforms, such as PlayOn, Plex, Serviio, Tversity, Twonky, and Windows Meda Player.

Roku Media Player Menu Example
Roku Media Player Menu Example. Image provided by Roku

To play content using the Roku Media Player App

  1. Select the media type from the Media Type Selection screen.
  2. Choose the device that has the content you wish to play.
  3. Find the content in a displayed folder you want to play. NOTE: If the content is in an unsupported file format, it will not be displayed.
  4. Press the OK or Play/Pause button on the Roku TV remote. You can use Play/Pause, Backward/Foward Scan as desired — However, not all file types support fast forward and rewind.
  5. To stop playback completely, press the back button on the Roku TV remote.

For more details on setup, use, and compatible digital media file formats, refer to the Roku Media Player Support Page.

Roku TVs also include a USB port for playing stored photo, audio, and video files from an external flash USB drive.

Roku Media Player - Select USB Drive
Roku Media Player - Select USB Drive. Image via Roku

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

  • For USB playback, locate the USB input on the back of your Roku TV and insert the USB device.
  • If the Roku Media Player app is not installed, you will be prompted to add it from the Roku Channel Store.
  • When Media Player is installed, an on-screen prompt will ask you to launch it or the USB drive.

You can determine if your content automatically plays or if you want to manually choose what how you want to navigate your USB device when it is plugged into your Roku TV by visiting Settings > System > USB media.

Use Play On Roku

Another Jailbreak workaround for Roku TV is to use Play On Roku. Similar to screen mirroring and screen casting, this allows you to display photos and video, and send music from a smartphone to a Roku TV via the Roku Mobile App.

Play On Roku Feature
Roku

To use this option, download and install the Roku Mobile App on your smartphone or tablet, then follow these steps:

  1. Open the Roku Mobile App.
  2. Launch Play On Roku by tapping the Photos+ icon on the navigation bar at the bottom of the Roku mobile app.
  3. Select Music, Photos, or Videos to choose what you want to share from your mobile device. When prompted, grant access to your media library.
  4. Select the specific photos, videos or music to share on your Roku TV.
Play On Roku Feature
Play On Roku Feature. Roku

Play On Roku supports the following file formats:

  • Photos: JPG, PNG
  • Video: MP4 (MPEG-4 Pt 14), MOV, M4V
  • Music: MP3, M4A, DRM-protected music files, such as M4P, are not supported.

Brands that offer Roku TVs include TCL, Sharp, RCA, Philips, Insignia, Hitachi, Hisense, and Element.