When Popcorn Time was released, it quickly got popular because of its functionality of playing video files from torrents either in its on video player or in VLC Media Player or on TV through Chromecast. Currently, there are two versions of Popcorn Time on the web. The original Popcorn Time apart from streaming movies, also lets you play videos using Torrent links or Magnet links. This is one nice feature if you want to watch a video or movie that's not in the app's directory of movies or shows.
But if you're one of those who don't like to use apps, there's another way to achieve the functionality of Popcorn Time without any app. Peerflix is a torrent streaming client for Node.js created by Mathias Buus which lets you play movies or video files from torrents to VLC Media Player on Mac.
Peerflix lets you stream any torrent right from the Terminal app. All you need to use Peerflix is have Node.js installed on your system. Once you install Node.js, you can use the following command to install Peerflix on your Mac.
npm install -g peerflix
Now, all you have to do is copy a torrent magnet link or the link to torrent file and use the link in the following format to start streaming the video or movie. Also make sure that you have VLC media player installed on your Mac.
peerflix "magnet:?xt=urn:btih:ef330b39f4801d25b4245212e75a38634bfc856e" --vlc
The "--vlc" option makes sure that VLC Media Player is automatically opened when the video is ready to stream. If you don't add that, it will start caching the video but it will not open the player. In this case, you'll have to enter the local address it shows at the top in the "Open Network" option in the VLC Media Player. You can also stream just the audio from the videos. For that, you have to use the following command.
peerflix "http://some-torrent/music.torrent" -a --vlc
Not only this, there are lots of other options available which you can view using the "peerflix -help" command. By default, Peerflix plays the biggest file in the Torrent but you can use options to change the file. It also lets you load a subtitle file.
While streaming the video file, it shows you some information in the Terminal app such as the download speed, the amount of data downloaded and uploaded etc. It also shows a network address which you can use to play the video not only in VLC Media Player but also in other video players which support streaming from network addresses.
Popcorn Time also uses Peerflix to stream torrents. There's a similar Torrent Streaming plus Chromecast client called Peercast by the same developer. If your Mac and Chromecast are on the same WiFi, you can use Peercast to stream videos from magnet links or torrent links directly to your TV. I haven't tried it, but since you can install Node.js on Windows, Peerflix should work on Windows and other platforms as well.