.mkv and HEVC

It is scandalous that QuickTime still cannot deal with .mkv or HEVC files. You need third party software for this. It has been years like this. Apple can make stupid cosmetic changes that people don’t use, but cannot do basic improvements like this. Can’t deal with H.265 either.


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Is this support article incorrect?

Yes. May be the codec or whatever but it fails.

I’m on Monterey so Ventura may have changed things (but definitely newer than the High Sierra mentioned in the support article), HEICs taken on my iPhone (iOS 16.6) and exported from Photos on my iMac work (as in the Finder icon is correct and Preview can display the image). I don’t know how to get an HEIF or HEVC off my phone, but if I download each from the web (I googled “sample HEIF” and “sample HEVC”), QuickTime Player can’t deal with either of them. It doesn’t handle .mkv files either (despite QuickTime Player showing as an option in right-click > Open With on such a file).

I use IINA as a player. The QuickTIme framework was deprecated years ago, so the QuickTIme.app is probably never going to catch up with the latest codecs.

MKV (Matroska) is just a container standard. It’s for bringing video, audio and subtitles into one single file, just like m4v. It doesn’t say anything about the format of the video or audio inside – there are multiple options for this. HEVC, on the other hand, has been supported in macOS for quite a while, ever since we got the first Macs with hardware support (I think that was 2016 MacBook Pro).
If you have an MKV file you can either use an alternative player (like IINA brought up by Gordon) or convert the container to a one supported natively if you want to play nicely with macOS (mp4 or m4v). To do that I recommend a free app called Subler (https://subler.org/). During the conversion you can add cover and description too, which is handy if you’re dealing with movies or TV shows.

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+1 for IINA here.

Excellent for screengrabs too, can save as PNGs as well as JPEG.

Though I mainly use Final Cut Pro X to save them as TIFFs, quite a big difference in the quality if you do, depending on your source video file of course.

I use Subler too to convert from mkv to mp4, but it failed on some h.265 stuff. I want .mp4s that tv can open and stream to Apple TV. This should have been built into the OS long ago.

There are dozens of standard container formats. Some other popular ones are:

These can typically contain audio and video encoded in a wide variety of formats. The underlying data should be movable to a different kind of container without re-encoding it (assuming the destination container also supports the encoding, of course).

You guys have all missed my point. Yes there are third party solutions. But why can’t MacOS just handle double clicking a .mkv or .mp4 file and having it open in TV, ready to play on the Apple TV? That is the way it should be.

My experience with mirroring my Mac to the Apple TV via a third party app is that the video is a bit jerky, indicating a low frame rate. Not a great solution.

That’s odd, normally I find that AirPlay from an app, as opposed to mirroring my screen, results in much smoother playback.

Ideally, every video player app should be able to open every file format. After all, the underlying CODECs are probably all built-in the OS or available as open source projects. But the reality is that it isn’t practical. Every feature you add needs to be tested and supported, even if the development effort is minimal, and engineers don’t work for free.

Apple, like every other company, must decide what to include and what to leave out. When they decide to leave out something you want, it’s frustrating, but ultimately, they are going to decide (right or wrong), what they think will be most useful to their customers.

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VLC, for example, has no airplay button. Neither does IINA.

h265 works fine on a Mac, but an AppleTV absolutely will not recognise it. Why? Goodness only knows. The Plex player will play h265 on an AppleTV just fine.

Depends on the Apple TV. I can state from personal experience that a new one will play H.265 files. An old one might not have the horsepower to decode them.

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