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Can't Play MOV File on Mac? How to Play MOV on Mac?

MOV is natively supported by Apple's QuickTime Player which is bundled with Mac for ages. Therefore theoretically, you shouldn't have much difficulty in playing MOV files on Mac Pro, MacBook, Mac Mini, and iMac. However, it is not that simple as MOV file is not compatible with QuickTime sometimes because of codec issue so that your QuickTime Player can't open MOV on Mac.

EVERY .MOV file I have - when I open it in QuickTime on my Mac - is forced into 'conversion' mode, which then seems to stall - every time. So basically, I can't open or play any .MOV file I have.

I have a black MacBook and a 27" iMac and a video camera that shoots to .MOV files. I had been able to view the movie files on both computers as well as edit them in iMovie. After a software update from Apple I was unable to view the files any more. I can hear the audio, but the screen is black.

Suggested Reading: How to Play MP4 on Mac?

[Solved] Mac Can't Play MOV? Convert MOV to QuickTime MOV to Play on Mac Successfully

Can't Open MOV on Mac

In most cases, your Mac can't play MOV files but receive error message "QuickTime Player can't open .. MOV" or "The file isn't compatible with QuickTime Player". Becasue your MOV or video file is encoded with codecs that QuickTime does not support, accordingly, you should convert MOV to QuickTime format so as to play the files on Mac without problems like no video, audio out of sync, black screen, etc. And WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe can help you.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Why You Can't Play MOV File on Mac with QuickTime?

Below we've summarized several typical problems along with the error message "QuickTime Player can't open .. MOV" or "The file isn't compatible with QuickTime Player":

  • Mac won't play .mov files that are taken with iPhone, drone, DSLR camera, etc.
  • Mac won't read .mov files that are edited in Adobe Premiere, After Effects, iMovie, etc.
  • Mac QuickTime player cannot open MOV files after getting a software update.
  • Mac only plays the first frame or the first second of MOV file.

So, how to solve these MOV not playing on Mac or QuickTime Player cant open MOV errors? Below we will give the explanations.

Reason 1. The MOV file could not be a valid media file.

When Mac QuickTime cannot open your .mov file, firstly you need to check the video information with Finder or MediaInfo and see if the file size or the duration is normal or not. If the file size is in 0kb or only in a few kb or the duration of the video is 0:00, your .mov video possibly has been emptied/corrupted and certainly won't be played with QuickTime, VLC or any other media player on Mac. >> Check how to repair corrupted and unplayable MOV files

Reason 2. The MOV file is created using an incompatible format.

If the file size and duration are fine, you need to check the video and audio codecs that are used to encode your MOV file. MOV container format could be encoded with a legacy Apple proprietary compression format or a format that Mac doesn't support.

The support for a wide range of legacy codecs has been discontinued with the release of the Mac OS X Mavericks. If your MOV files are compressed with legacy codecs, you can try installing the old QuickTime Player 7 on Mac, or use QuickTime X's conversion feature to upgrade the legacy codecs to modern codecs (H.264/AAC). If these solutions don't work for you, you can try a more powerful MOV video player like 5KPlayer or use WinX HD Video Converter for Mac to convert MOV, no matter what codecs it use and what resolution it is, to Mac supported formats.

Part 2. How to Solve Can't Play MOV File on Mac Error?

If you insist in playing MOV files with QuickTime Player, you have to convert MOV to QuickTime supported format for playback on Mac. And the tool you need is WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe which can also convert MKV files to help play MKV files on Mac with QuickTime.

Step 1. Download the .dmg file of HD Video Converter Deluxe for Mac and install it. This software is fully compatible with macOS. Then launch it and click the "+ Video" button to import the MOV file that can't be played on Mac.

Step 2. At the Output Profile panel, choose a video format that Mac can recognize, such as MP4 and MOV with H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec.

Convert MOV on Mac
Convert MOV on Mac for Playback

Step 3. Hit "RUN" to begin converting MOV to Mac playable format. WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe features super fast conversion speed by taking advantage of Intel/NVIDIA/AMD GPU acceleration.

Apart from converting MOV to QuickTime/Mac supported file formats, WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe can also convert MOV to MP4, AVI, WMV, iPhone (11), iPad (Pro), Samsung Galaxy S10, Xbox, PS4 and other devices for profiles, as well as convert other video formats to MOV. In addition to converting file formats, this program can also compressing videos (e.g., shrinking 4K to 1080p for smooth playback), cropping, cutting and merging videos, downloading online videos, recording screen and webcam, and making photo slideshow videos.

Free download WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe to help play .mov on Mac in any free MOV video player and do other things!

Part 3. How to Play MOV on Mac with QuickTime after Converting?

Now that you have converted MOV to MOV encoded with Mac supported codecs or more accepted format like MP4, you can open it with your default media player QuickTime Player without any error. Accordingly, you have several ways to that end.

Play MOV on Mac
Play MOV on Mac

Way 1. Locate the file and double click it. The file should automatically open in your default media player, and QuickTime should be the first choice on your Mac computer. Of course, you set desired media player as the default video player for your Mac, including VLC, 5KPlayer, KMPlayer, etc.

Way 2. Use Quick Look on Mac. Quick Look is a considerate feature that enables you quickly view files without opening an application. Just highlight a MOV file and press the space bar button on your keyboard, you will open your MOV file on Mac instantly.

Way 3. Simply drag the file to your Mac MOV player. If your video player is already open, you can drag the MOV file directly to the player for playback.

Way 4. Right-click the converted MOV file and choose an application to play by clicking the "Open With" option to display a list of related applications. Or, click the "Other" button to search for specific application manually.

Codec missing/incompatible codec and HEVC encoded 4K MOV files are the main reasons casuing the can't play MOV on Mac error and "The file isn't compatible with QuickTime Player" error message, while any video player may lack required codecs for all MOV playback. So, if you always intend to play MOV files on Mac with default Mac media player QuickTime, you are highly suggested to convert MOV video with WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe to Mac/QuickTime-supported format like MP4. No worries about MOV not playing on Mac error any more.

Part 4. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why won't my .MOV play on my Mac?

Causes to MOV file not playing on Mac are diverse, including incomaptible codec, currupted file, virus, format change, etc. Among them, 90% of the QuickTime not playing MOV file error is due to missing required codec, as MOV is a container format that may contain video audio codecs that QuickTime doesn't support.

2. How do I play a MOV file on my Mac?

You can directly drag and drop the MOV file to QuickTime Player to play. If it shows "The file isn't compatible with QuickTime Player" error message, you can use WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe to convert the MOV file to QuickTime format first and then play with QuickTime Player on Mac.

3. Can QuickTime play MOV files?

Yes. Most common MOV videos can be opened by QuickTime Player. However, if there is any incompatible codec like HEVC and AV1 in the MOV file, your QuickTime can't open MOV file.

4. How do I play a MOV file without QuickTime?

You can use third-party MOV video player to play MOV files on Mac. Examples include VLC Media Player, 5KPlayer, INNA, Elmedia Player, etc.


Donna Peng

Jack Watt is a sought-after editor at Digiarty. He is responsible for digital and multimedia world, delivering definitive video and audio related software reviews, enlightening guides, and incisive analysis. As a fan of Apple, Jack Watt also brings his experience to more readers and focuses on writing of the Apple ecosystem at large.

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