Jailbreaking, a process often done to unlock access to features and apps not officially authorized by device manufacturers, is a common practice for devices like the FireStick and older iPhones. Naturally, people who use Roku devices may wonder if it’s possible to jailbreak their device to gain more control and features.
Unfortunately, you can’t jailbreak any Roku device (be it a Roku box, streaming stick, or Roku TV) in the classic sense due to it’s operating system. Instead, screen-cast or AirPlay your legally obtained media to the Roku from another device, or use Plex for a more sophisticated experience.
But don’t worry: although a true jailbreak may not be possible for Roku devices, there are alternative methods to access additional content that we’ will discuss further in this article that w’ll unpack below. Let’s dive in so you can get to enjoying your content!
Why Can’t You Jailbreak a Roku?
One of the major reasons why you can’t jailbreak a Roku device is because of its closed system software. Unlike devices like Amazon Firestick or Fire TV, which run on Android operating systems, Roku devices, including Roku TVs and streaming sticks, run on a proprietary operating system called Roku OS.
This means that side-loading applications, a common reason to jailbreak a device, is not possible on Roku devices. Developers could develop a jailbreak for Roku, but as you’ll see below, there are other much easier options that make jailbreaking it a bit pointless.
Especially since jailbreaking often comes with more problems, like decreased security and/or phantom bugs that you have no tech-support to call and figure out.
Why “Jailbreak” a Device At All?
Jailbreaking is a process that allows users to bypass the limitations and restrictions imposed by the device manufacturer. It enables users to gain full control over their device, install unofficial applications, and even modify or customize the operating system.
People often jailbreak their devices to access more content, features, or functionalities that are not available by default…especially illegally obtained content (which we’ll talk more about below).
What Are Your Alternatives?
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: you should only do this with legally obtained media that you own. We didn’t create this guide to help pirates, and we don’t approve of or condone pirating content.
That said, we understand the desire to access content on your Roku device, especially if it’s content that, again, you already own legally. Luckily there are legitimate alternatives to access your content on Roku without resorting to software hacks.
One option is to use screen-mirroring features like AirPlay for Mac computers or Screencast for smartphones and other devices. We have guides for both of them at the links, so if you run into any snags while you’re trying to use them be sure to check those out. As long as the devices are on the same WiFi network, you can cast or use AirPlay to display content from your smartphone, tablet, or computer on your Roku device.
While some sources may recommend using the Roku Mobile app and “Play on Roku” feature , we recommend against this. Why? Because it forces you to download and manage yet another app, and this functionality is basically the same darn thing as screen mirroring. So if you’re grabbing your smartphone to get content from it to your Roku, just skip the middle-man.
Another alternative to consider is Plex.tv. Plex is a media server software that allows you to organize and stream your personal content on devices like Roku. By installing Plex on a computer and running a Plex server, you can access your digital media library through the Plex app available for Roku.
This is an excellent option–probably the best option–for those who want a premium experience to access their TV shows, movies, music, and more on their Roku device.
One More Alternative: Kodi on Roku
If you’re looking for another alternative, you can use Kodi on your Roku device using a few technical jumparounds. However, we are breaking this idea into a separate section because it is a bit more involved, and we do not recommend it for most users because of, well, the technical jumparounds. That said, Kodi works great on an Amazon Firestick, so you might wonder why not use it on Roku too.
To use Kodi on Roku, you can’t install it directly like on Firestick (for the same reason you can’t jailbreak it). Instead, you’ll need to use–what else–the screen mirroring feature on your Android or Windows device.
Keep in mind that using Kodi on Roku does have some limitations and risks. First, not all Roku devices support screen mirroring, so you’ll need to ensure your device is compatible before attempting this method. Additionally, some Kodi streams may not be legal, so make sure you are only accessing legitimate channels and content.
Finally, using Kodi on your Roku device may potentially expose your personal information, so it’s important to use a VPN to protect your privacy while streaming.
Does that sound like a lot of work? We think so too. That’s why we’ve included this option for power users to dig into if they want, but most people can skip it and just use screen-mirroring or Plex.
Honorable Mention: Roku Developer Mode
We’ll star by saying most normal people can ignore this section! But in the effort to close the discussion in a way that hits on everything jailbreak or hacking related when it comes to Roku, do note that you can also activate developer mode on a Roku to sideload channels and do some other nifty stuff that looks pretty hacker-ey (if you squint a little).
But, again, if you’re going to spend time doing your own IT hacking on your Roku, we think it’s better spent doing it in the direction of setting up a Plex server instead of setting up side-loaded channels.
Your Roku Route To Content: Navigating a Closed System
It’s both good and bad that Roku operates on a closed system. It isn’t jailbreakable, but in theory this should lead to more stability over time. And if you need to get your legally obtained content onto the screen, just reach for the screen-mirroring button or use a Plex server.
There’s no way those options take any more time than the Kodi option, and they’ll help you get your files on the screen ASAP.