Why Certain MKV do not play on Chromebook in Chrome OS

MKV is a container format developed by Matroska. It is becoming more and more popular since it can hold an unlimited number of video, audio, picture or subtitle tracks in one file. If you get some downloaded MKV videos, (maybe MKV in 720/1080p) or get some 2160p/4K MKV rips, and have trouble to play MKV on a Chromebook in Chrome OS, you’re in the right place. This guide will tell you how to convert MKV files to Chromebook in just a few clicks step by step. Three solutions are provided.

Why Certain MKV don’t play on Chromebook in Chrome OS

Chromebooks are great little machines with a wide range of features. (See Chromebooks vs. Windows 10 Laptop) However they are still struggling more than Mac, Windows or Linux computers when it comes to flawlessly playing every video file you throw at them.

If you’re online, streaming videos works fine. Google Play has even introduced offline viewing. If you’re not using a streaming service and have a local video collection you want to make use of, uploading your movies to Google Drive and then playing them from there usually takes care of most issues as well. 

This might be the case when you’re on the road, on a train or a plane without an internet connection. In these situations, you need to make sure that your movies are in a format that the Chromebook understands. These are:

File types

Microsoft Office files: .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt (read-only), .pptx (read-only).  
Media: .3gp, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm, .ogg, .oga, .webm, .wav
Images: .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .webp
Compressed files: .zip, .rar
Other: .txt, .pdf (read-only)


Container Video codec Audio codec
ogv Theora





mp4 H264
mov MPEG4
avi MPEG4 MP3
3gp H264 AAC

However they will only play flawlessly if the video and audio codec of the movie file are of types that Chromebooks know above. MKV containers are supported by Chrome OS (the operating system on Chromebooks) but if the audio within the container is encoded in a proprietary codec, it won’t play. 

Sometimes, the MKV video plays but there is no sound just like someone mentioned above, or the video playback is patchy and shows artefacts that don’t appear in video player apps on other computers. Sometimes, subtitles that should be there don’t get displayed or the video doesn’t play at all. 

See frequently asked question below:

Q1: How can I watch MKV files on my Chromebook?  

I have a Chromebook HP 11 and i have the first season of Narcos on my external hard drive. All of the files are MKV files but the only thing is that I can only hear audio, video is absent. I have tried HEVC and it didnt work. HELP

Q2: Which is the best Chromebook video converter? 

I’ve been searching for awhile and haven’t found an answer. Short from running crouton is there any script or java app I can load within Chrome OS to convert video files? (ie: mkv to mp4) Thanks in advance

Q3: How can I play MKV files on ChromeOS?

I have a lot of videos in MKV format on my local network available over NFS/SMB? How can I get them to play, without transcoding, on a ChromeOS machine? I don’t think that it currently can be done universally without transcoding — MKV is a container format and can house many different video/audio codecs (some of which are supported by ChromeOS and some are not). For those video formats that are supported I have had luck simply switching containers (from MKV to MP4) using ffmpeg. This preserves the original video (that is, does not transcode) but changes the container.

Q4: Certain MKV files do not play in Chrome OS

Chrome OS Version (Type chrome://help in your browser window’s address bar. Copy and paste the first three lines you see here.): 

Version 43.0.2357.32 dev (64-bit) 
Platform 6946.20.0 (Official Build) dev-channel parrot 
Firmware Google_Parrot.2685.37.0 

Chromebook Model (Example: Chromebook Pixel, HP Chromebook 11, etc.): 

Acer C710 

Issue description: 

I am trying to watch videos from my media streaming server on my Chromebook. Many videos play fine, but some MKV files do not play at all. On my server I am using h5ai to index all my files. What should happen is I click on a file, and it starts playing in the web browser. On computers running Windows, Mac, or Linux with Chrome, this works perfectly, but on my Chromebook, the picture is a transparent box with a drop shadow, and clicking play does nothing. 

If I actually pull the file down to the Chromebook and try to open it with files, I just get a black picture and pressing play does nothing again. I have tried the HEVC player from the Chrome Web Store, but that only plays the audio, and the video just sticks on the first frame, plus that requires me to pull the video down to my Chromebook, and I would much rather just pull it down from the server in real time. I tried switching to the dev channel in hopes that it would fix the problem, but it didn’t.

So how can you play MKV on Chromebook in Chrome OS?

Solution 1. Upload your MKV video files to Google Drive, Dropbox or another file storage service that includes video playback capabilities, then stream your videos from there.

Works if you have internet access so your files can be streamed and if you don’t mind uploading your videos first, which can take quite some time depending on file size. If you have large H.265/HEVC MKV files, this method is not suggested.

Solution 2. Install a video player app from the Chrome Store that is able to play more video/audio codecs (and subtitles) than the Chromebook’s native player. For example, VLC is available from the web store now as a Chrome OS app. So far it’s playing high bitrate HD/4K mkv files with ease. Or try H.265/HEVC player to play H.265 files. Give it a shot!

Solution 3. Convert your MKV video files to a format that Chromebooks understand

If none of the above suggestions provide relief, try converting MKV videos to a format that plays on Chromebooks. This will allow you to play your movie files even without internet access directly from your computer or a connected external USB drive or SD card. It will also reduce your video file’s size without noticeable quality difference (and save disk space in the process) Please note that converting will work for most video files like MKV, FLV, MOV, WMV, VOB, Tivo, etc. It’s definitely worth a try and might do the trick for you.

To convert MKV to Chromebook in Chrome OS with high speed and quality, you need a trustworthy and easy to use video converter like Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate. Besides converting MKV to Chromebook, it can also make various video formats including AVI, MKV, FLV, MOV, VOB, MP4, etc. perfectly played on Chromebook with ease. Ripping Blu-ray/DVD/ISO to Chromebook supported format is also allowed.

What’s more, some powerful editing functions are provided, for example, you can “Trim” MKV to cut out the undesired part or cut off the annoying black edges with “Crop” option. Add image, text, video watermark or subtitles will help to customize the MKV videos. Follow below detailed guide to get MKV files to play on Chromebook nicely.

Free download MKV to Chromebook converter:


Other Download:

– Pavtube old official address: http://www.pavtube.cn/blu-ray-video-converter-ultimate/

– Cnet Download: http://download.cnet.com/Pavtube-Video-Converter-Ultimate/3000-2194_4-75938564.html

Note: Pavtube iMedia Converter for Mac has almost the same functions as Video Converter Ultimate and here we’ll take its windows version as the example. After downloading, follow the wizard to install the program. Then launch it.

How to Convert MKV to Chromebook for playback easily

1. Add MKV files to the program

Run this best MKV to Chromebook Video Converter, click “Add video” icon to load your MKV files you want to convert to Chromebook from you computer’s hard drive. If you have MKV videos at hand, just drag and drop them into the main interface. All added videos can be previewed on the right and you’re free to take snapshots of your favorite video scenes.

Tips: Besides powerful conversion capability, this program also provides some very solild editing functions. Simply click the “Edit selected task” button beside each clip to open the Video Edit window and do some video editing like cropping, trimming, adding watermarks/subtitles, adjusting video effects, etc. till you get it just the way you like it.

2. Choose the proper output format

Click the format icon on the right to open the format drop-down list. Then select “H.264 HD Video (*.mp4)” under “HD Video” option as Chromebook compatible video. H.264 MP4 will create high quality files and generate big file size. It could fit on your Samsung, Acer, HP and Toshiba Chromebooks. If you do not like the default path for output files, you can click “Browse” button to find a new folder before conversion.

3. Start to convert MKV to Chromebook

When you’ve finished adjusting settings, press the “Convert” button to it begin conversion automatically. Now go have a cup of coffee or take a nap; Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate will do the hard work, running in the background. 

Once the conversion is finished, click “Open” button to get the generated files quickly, you can store them for offline use in the Downloads folder, upload them to Google Drive and then make them available as offline files, or put them on a USB stick or an SD card that you insert into the Chromebook or external drive connected to Chromebook.


You can access files on external devices connected to your Chromebook if they use the following types of filesystems:

  • FAT (FAT16, FAT32, exFAT)
  • HFS+ (read-only on journaled HFS+)
  • ISO9660 (read-only)
  • MTP
  • NTFS
  • UDF (read-only)

Storage devices

  • USB hard drives and thumb drives
  • USB CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives (read-only)

Remove a storage device safely by clicking Eject

Cloud storage

In addition to Google Drive, Chromebooks support other cloud storage systems, such as Box or SMB. To add, go to Files Files app icon > Add new services.


  • MTP devices (read & write)
  • USB keyboards (Windows and Mac)
  • USB mice with the following features: left button, right button, scrollwheel
  • USB hubs
  • Certain Bluetooth devices
  • Monitors with DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, or VGA connections
  • USB, DisplayPort, and HDMI audio devices
  • Headset with a 3.5 mm jack
  • Webcam with a USB cable
  • MP3 player or mobile phone with a USB cable (can be used for charging)
  • Huawei mobile dongle

Troubleshoot file type and external devices

I get an "Unknown file type" error message when I try to open a file

This means the file type won’t work on your Chromebook at this time. You can try using a web application to view the file. For example, you can upload most documents, presentations, and spreadsheets to Google Drive and view them in your browser.

External Reading

Other resons why videos won’t play on Chromebooks

a. Interlaced video is not supported on some Chromebook models

b. Subtitle streams inside your video file are of an unrecognised format

c. An update to Chrome or Chrome OS introduced a bug that causes video playback issues. 

d. For some flash videos, Chromebooks come with the Flash plugin enabled by default and this helps to get more video file types to work. If you think this plugin might be disabled for one reason or another, check that you have Flash enabled.

Best VPN for Chrome OS /Chromebooks Summary



$5.83 / month


$4.80 / month


$4.99 / month


$4.16 / month


$6.55 / month

WINNER – CyberGhost


  • No logs at all
  • Good free service
  • 14 (monthly) or 30 (yearly) day money back guarantee
  • Based in Romania
  • Accepts Bitcoins


  • Multiple simultaneous connections only allowed on most expensive plan
  • Many servers are slow

Based in Romania, CyberGhost keeps no logs, allows BitTorrent downloading, and has a great Windows VPN client with lots of features, including an internet kill switch. The 30-day money back guarantee is also unarguably very generous (for yearly customers, 14-days for monthly purchases.) 

My main issue with CyberGhost is that while some servers perform very well, others can be very slow, requiring some patience and trial-and-error to establish a good connection. CyberGhost also offers a very usable free service, that, unlike many "free" VPN services, is transparently funded by its Premium offerings. 

CyberGhost provides a guide to setting up L2TP/IPSec in Chrome OS, and has a free Chrome browser extension (with servers limited to US, Netherlands, and Germany.) 

Additional features: P2P: yes, great Chromebook support. 



  • No usage logs 
  • 6 Simultaneous devices 
  • Servers in 17 countries 
  • Android app 
  • Chrome extension


Connection logs 

Although we had some reservations about the technical side of things when we reviewed this Romanian provider some time back it, we nevertheless liked it. On the human / privacy side of things, VPN.ac keeps no usage logs (but some connection logs,) has great customer support, and allows you to connect up to 6 (!) devices at once. Accepting anonymous Bitcoin payments is also good to see, and we are also now pleased to say that VPN.ac seems to have sorted out its technical weakness, and offers superb security and great speeds. 

VPN.ac offers no explicit L2TP/IPSec support for Chrome OS, but its generic L2TP/IPSec settings should work just fine (see below.) It does have a Chrome browser extension (account required,) however, which works well. 

Additional features: P2P: yes, supports L2TP/IPSec, based in Romania.

3RD PLACE – TorGuard 


  • No logs 
  • SSH tunneling 
  • Great Chromebook support 
  • Server status information 
  • P2P: yes 


  • Encryption varies 
  • Basic software 

TorGuard offers a fast no logs service with a great attitude to privacy, and has a good Android app. Which county’s jurisdiction it falls under is somewhat unclear (parent in Nevis, HQ in US), but it seems to have things in hand. TorGuard accepts Bitcoins, runs stealth servers to evade censorship firewalls, offers SSH tunneling, and provides server information. The 30-day money back guarantee sounds good, but you should note that it is limited to 10GB of data. It’s downsides include that strong encryption is only used on a limited number of servers, and its software is very basic.

Support for Chrome OS comes in the form of How-to Guides for setting up on a Chromebook using both L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN. Unusually, TorGuard supports Chrome OS compatible OpenVPN certs, so the rather clunky workaround discussed below is not needed. TorGuard also provides a Chrome browser extension (account required.) 

Additional features: servers in 42 countries, accepts Bitcoin, “stealth” servers, port forwarding, 5 simultaneous connections.

4TH PLACE – TunnelBear 


  • 5 simultaneous devices 
  • Servers in 20 countries 
  • Android & iOS apps 
  • Ad-blocking (optional) 
  • Chrome browser extension


  • Connection logs
  • P2P: no 
  • No L2TP/IPsec 

Home of bear and honey based puns, this Canadian provider is popular largely due to its free VPN service (500mb/month limit.) Its paid-for service, however, is not at all bad, and is ideal for the more casual user (and even more advanced users will be happy with its recently beefed up encryption.) TunnelBear keeps no usage logs (but some connection logs,) sports decent speed performance, user-friendly clients, and a cool Android app. Unfortunately, it does not permit P2P. 

As with the other providers listed here, TunnelBear has a Chrome browser extension, which is simple, but worked without issue (no DNS leaks etc.) This is just as well for Chromebook users, as as all TunnelBear VPN access is through its apps, and no L2TP/IPsec instructions are provided.

5TH PLACE – HideMyAss 


  • Lots of other freebies 
  • 2 simultaneous devices 
  • Great Chromebook support 
  • Servers in 69 countries 
  • 30-day money back guarantee 


  • Rats on users 
  • UK based (keeps logs) 

HMA is one of the largest and most visible VPN providers out there, sporting 510 servers in 63 different countries. Based in the UK and with a history of ratting users out to the authorities, HMA keeps logs and is not a good choice if privacy or P2P downloading are your top priorities. However, it does have full support for setting up both L2TP/IPsec and OpenVPN in Chrome OS, has a great Windows and OSX client, allows 2 devices to be connected at once, and throws in a ton of freebies (such as a free proxy server list, free ‘anonymous’ email, and more). 

The HMA Chrome browser extension is a web proxy rather than a true VPN, but works well, does not leak DNS, and can be SSL encrypted for privacy and security.


What is a Chromebook anyway? 

A Chromebook is a computer that runs Chrome OS as its operating system. Chrome OS represents Google’s clearest vision of a future where most storage and processing is performed in the the cloud, rather than locally on your computer. 

In Chrome OS the Chrome browser effectively is the Operating System. Rather than install apps in the traditional way, on a Chromebook almost all functionality is obtained through web apps. For example, instead of writing this article using a locally installed (and paid for) version of Microsoft Word, when using a Chromebook I write instead write it inside the Chrome browser using Google Docs.

Initially scoffed at, then the preserve of cheap and nasty low-end “netbook” type computers, there now exists an expanding range of desirable devices that go a long towards proving Google’s cloud-based vision of the future has real legs. 

Chrome browser VPN plugins 

One kink to the Chromebook “do everything in the cloud” philosophy is that regular Chrome browser plugins are compatible with Chrome OS. These are small apps that run locally and add functionality to Chrome (and Chrome OS.) 

Because in Chrome OS all internet activity is performed in the Chrome browser (as the browser is basically all that Chrome OS is,) this means that lightweight and easily deployed VPN plugins are a fantastic way to enjoy the benefits of VPN when using a Chromebook. 

Using a Chromebook with L2TP/IPSec 

VPN browser plugins are great, but Chrome OS can be also configured to run regular L2TP/IPSec connections, as supported by most commercial VPN providers. This is very useful as it allows you to use most VPN services, even when those services do not explicitly support.Chrome OS. 

1. Sign in to your Chromebook 
2. Click the network icon at the bottom of the screen (next to your picture) 
3. Select Settings 
4. Select your Internet connection -> ‘Add connection’ -> Add private network’ 
5. Fill in the details provided by your VPN service (these do not have to be specific to Chrome OS, so you can just use the generic ones .) 

Click Connect, and ta-da! 

To view VPN status and to connect/disconnect, go to Settings -> Internet connection -> Private network. 

Using OpenVPN on Chromebook 

As we have already mentioned, although does Chrome OS does support OpenVPN, it does not recognise the SSL certs used by commercial VPN companies (except, as far as I know, TorGuard.) There is, however, a workaround for this which relies on the fact that Chrome OS is based on Linux. 

This means that using Terminal, we can bypass Chrome OS and setup OpenVPN using Linux commands. 

  1. Open Terminal by hitting CTRL+ALT+T or CTRL+ALT+RIGHTARROW 
  2. At the crosh> prompt type shell 
  3. You should now be logged in with restricted user privileges. To get root access type sudo su and enter the root password followed by <enter>
  4. Download the .ovpn and OpenVPN config files from your VPN provider’s website 
  5. Navigate in Terminal to the folder you where you downloaded the files (e.g. type ‘CD Desktop’ if in the root directory and the files are downloaded to your desktop). For more details on Linux Terminal commands check out LinuxCommand.org). 
  6. Connect to the VPN by typing openvpn downloadedovpnfile.ovpn (use downloaded .ovpn file name) 
  7. Enter your VPN username and password 
  8. Hopefully you will see something like ‘Tues Jan 3 17:04:33 2016 Initialization Sequence Completed’, which means that you are connected!
  9. Leave Terminal mode by hitting ALT+TAB. You can check that you are connected by going to IPLeak.net 
  10. To disconnect, go back to Terminal mode (ALT+TAB) and hit CTRL+C. 

Download Torrents on your Chromebook! 

Non-Chromebook users would likely be very surprised at how well you can get by without conventional programs and apps, but sometime these can be useful. One such area is downloading content via P2P. 

Fortunately, the JSTorrrent Chrome extension works on Intel and ARM based Chromebooks, 

“The new and improved JSTorrent is a BitTorrent client for Chrome that downloads torrent files with ease. It can download torrents directly to your Downloads folder and can handle large files (multi-gigabyte files) with ease. It also runs fine on lower end ARM Chromebooks.” 

Another option is to use the free web-based Seedr service (Chrome plugin available.) At the time of writing this article we have yet to try Seedr out, but it looks promising, so watch out for a review!

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