Apple provides you with a number of media-handling options in OS X, with QuickTime being the core service for displaying video; however, there will likely be times when you have downloaded a video file that simply will not play in QuickTime. Even if the document looks like a QuickTime file, when opening it you may receive an error that prevents you from viewing its contents.
There are several ways to get around this issue if you run into it, and since it is so prominent, I recommend you keep at least a few of these around on your system to handle odd media files you might encounter.
Use another player
The first option is to use another media player. Apple provides QuickTime Player X in OS X, but Apple’s older QuickTime 7 has some additional capabilities that did not make it into the latest QuickTime Player version. Therefore, download QuickTime 7 and see if it will handle your media. This is especially true for some Quicktime VR files, and MIDI files, as well as interactive movies.
While QuickTime 7 will cover a few additional formats, your best bet for handling most media is to use either VLC or MplayerOSX Extended, both of which offer far more flexibility in their support for codecs and file formats. In most cases, if a video will not play in QuickTime then it will play in one of these players, and if not then the video is likely corrupted. Both of these players are free, so give them a shot.
While third-party media players are convenient, sometimes you might need to embed a video in a Keynote presentation or otherwise use it in ways where a third-party media player might be a touch cumbersome. To do this, you can try a number of transcoders, but a free and robust one that I recommend is Handbrake, which can read many input file formats and then output them as an MP4 (M4V) or MKV format. Often videos you encounter might be in MKV format, and you can use Handbrake to convert them to M4V so they can be easily dragged into a Keynote or other document, or opened with QuickTime.
With these two options, you should be able to view most video files that you encounter in OS X; however, there may be plenty of others you can try as well. Do you have a favorite media player or two? If so, post them below in the comments.
I have found the free Mac Media Player to be exceptionally useful in opening those dreaded files that Quicktime 10 or 7 won’t open (http://www.macblurayplayer.com/mac-media-player.htm). Be sure to get the free Mac Media Player, not the commercial Mac Blu-ray Player.
I agree with Philip. I have the free version of Mac Media Player and it is very useful for opening stubborn files Quicktime will not open. BTW it is a very well written program with a well thought out interface. Mac Media Player is my favourite of all the Mac media players I have used.
I suspect there’s some PR going on here and that “Noguchi” and “Bergsagel” are compensated by the maker of Mac Media Player. How about some full disclosure, Gentlemen.
To Chris Hart,
I am a macintosh user and apple user since the 1960s, and have NO affiliation with Mac Media Player.
One should not assume an positive review to have hidden agenda. Or as is said, sometimes a positive review is JUST a positive review.
How about full disclosure for yourself, Chris Hart.
Relax, Phil. I simply found it fishy that shortly after you posted your endorsement, someone else echoed the comment. That’s the kind of thing usually seen with paid endorsements.
And there’s nothing to disclose about myself. I have no affiliation with any software developers.
Eh Mac’s didn’t exist in the 60’s
Good point, Gavin…. Apple the company didn’t even exist in the 60’s.
The installer got flagged as malware, and only for power pc by multiple scanners.
THAT indicates it is faulty & fake
Up until recently the Flip4Mac media player was a good option to expand QuickTime compatibility with various Windows media formats. But the player is no longer free; it now costs $6. What Telestream is really selling, though, are more robust versions that provide substantial enhancements to QuickTime’s video processing tools – primarily geared toward video pros and ambitious amateurs. Now that the basic player is no longer gratis, other options, like VLC and Handbrake, will become even more attractive. While these tools don’t work in QuickTime like Flip4Mac does, they can convert files to formats than can be read in QuickTime – or, perhaps more importantly, in iTunes.
I’m keeping the last free Flip4Mac Player around, version 126.96.36.199. You can still get it at http://www.telestream.net/flip-player/download.htm. The free version was always intended as a gateway to the paid versions. But Microsoft recently stopped subsidizing it, which probably explains why it is no longer a free app. Not that $6 is all that much, if you need the basic player, but given other fee options, it may still price Flip4Mac out of the Mac market.
Telestream have recently released a new free player called Switch and it’s paired with a premium product. The paid-for component is sold as a tool for media-professionals and does format conversions and possibly much more. At a quick glance, the free player might be considered as a replacement for the old Flip4Mac player. I clocked the recent announcement, but have not yet had the need to take a detailed look at it, so I can’t comment further.
I gave Switch a try and it didn’t impress me. It couldn’t open a large number of AVI and MKV files that I asked it to play. All of these same files play fine in VLC and MOVIST.
Is there a truly replacement for VisualHub?
And what about bringing the useful editing capabilities of QuickTime 7.7 (Pro) into the latest QuickTime 10.3?
I’m thankful everyday for VLC. It’s a wonderful media player and I have all media types set to open in it (I rarely use QuickTime Player at this point).
This is why I’m grateful to the open source developers who make it happen and I donate money annually to the VLC project. It’s a also why I’m passionate about informing others about the need to support software development. That’s why I feel it’s important for any article like this, or anyone recommending open source software, to point out that the software would not be possible if the developers didn’t get some support.
Bottom line: If you use VLC or similar software in need of support, please donate today.
iFFmpeg is a great replacement for VisualHub. It has seemingly unlimited ways to convert and tweak video into the format of your choice. It is a front-end app harnessing the power of FFmpeg.
It costs $ 22.00 but is so worth it. The creator is very response to concerns and constantly updates his product.
MKV files can be converted to M4V files without the need to transcode. Conversion is much faster and there’s no drop in image quality because of re-encoding. Subler is my MKV converter of choice.
I am using handbrake and converting to m4v files but quicktime is saying it is not a video file and wont open it. any suggestions? I have tried changing the file name to mp4 but this doesnt work either
By default, Handbrake creates files that have a Mastroska MKV format/wrapper. Did you change this to MP4?
Alternatively, make your life easier by using the presets that the Handbrake developers provide. Just a single tap on the preset that matches the device(s) you want to watch the resulting video file with, will give you the appropriate conversion settings.
I use iDealshare VideoGo to convert QuickTime unsupported video files like MKV, FLV, WMV, AVI, WTV, VOB, SWF etc to QuickTime supported MOV, MP4.
Why QuickTime exists? It never works, so complicated!
SAVED MY LIFE! i am creating a mash up of videos of family and friends for my moms birthday and the last video would not open on quick time and i tried downloading different versions of quick time and it still would not work! downloaded Handbrake and it worked perfectly! thank you so much:)
Another player like VLC works exceptionally well. However I have found Handbrake converter extremely useful to covert to mp4, and then can easily be embedded in Keynote or Powerpoint. This saved me a lot of time.
I never managed to get it listed when searching for video converters on Google!