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How to Play MP4 on Mac & Solve MP4 not Playing on Mac Error?

As the most widely-used video format, MP4 can be played on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, TV, etc. without as many problems as other file formats. Nevertheless, nothing is perfect but MP4 not playing on Mac is the commonest error that you may encounter while trying to play MP4 on Mac with the native media player – QuickTime Player.

Though QuickTime Player is not that satisfying to play MP4 files on Mac, you can still use it to play MP4 videos of any kind with the help of a video converter. Plus, there are also better Mac MP4 player alternative to QuickTime to let you watch MP4 videos movies on Mac without issues.

QuickTime Can’t Play MP4 on Mac? Convert MP4 to QuickTime-supported Formats

Only MP4 videos encoded with MPEG-4 or H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec can be played by QuickTime Player on Mac, so you should convert the unplayable MP4 files to Mac-supported formats. And WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe can help.

Table of Contents

Why Is MP4 not Playing on Mac?

Though MP4 is an Apple standard pushed with QuickTime 6 that by natural is playable on Mac with QuickTime player, QuickTime only plays MP4 files on Mac that have been encoded to meet Joint Video Team (JVT) standards. So, if your QuickTime Player lacks the right codecs to recognize certain MP4 videos, you should first convert unplayable MP4 videos to Mac-supported codecs or other formats like MOV, or simply switch to a more powerful MP4 player for Mac on the road to smooth MP4 playback.

In specific, MP4 is a container format which could include numerous different video audio codecs based on the usage, and also determines how a MP4 player can play a MP4 file on Mac most. For instance, the default QuickTime Player plays MP4 videos encoded with MPEG-4 or H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec only. That’s why sometimes you come across the error message like "the movie could not be opened" or "MP4 file not compatible with QuickTime" when trying to open MP4 files on Mac computer.

Also, damaged or corrupted MP4 file is another culprit, but it is not the main reason.

Part 1. How to Play MP4 on Mac with QuickTime?

Is QuickTime still your first choice to open MP4 files on Mac? If your MP4 videos are encoded with MPEG-4 or H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec, you can drag and drop your MP4 files to it to play directly. Now that it has difficulties in playing MP4 videos encoded with certain codecs, you can try to convert MP4 to other format like MOV that can be opened on macOS with QuickTime Player. The job can be done with a MP4 to MOV converter, either on the Internet or offline.

Here, we take the most popular video converter WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe as an example to show you how to convert MP4 to Mac-compatible format MOV to play on Mac without hassle. It is born to be a 4K video converter and compressor that converts between hundreds of media formats including HEVC, H.264, AV1 from online, cameras, drones, etc. As said, it can also compress large videos to smaller size for easier uploading, sharing and storage.

Convert MP4 to Mac
Convert MP4 to Mac

Step 1. Free download WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe for Mac, install and launch it.

Step 2. By clicking on "+ Video" button, you can add a MP4 file you want to convert to QuickTime.

Step 3. When the "Output Profile" window pops up, simply choose "HD Video > MOV HD Video" as the output, and then click on "OK".

Step 4. Click the "Browse" button to choose a destination folder to save the converted MP4 file.

Step 5. Hit the "RUN" button to start converting MP4 to MOV for smooth playback on Mac with QuickTime Player.

Step 6. Now, play MP4 file on Mac in QuickTime Player by using one of the following ways.

  • Drag and drop the MP4 file to QuickTime Player to play.
  • Double-click the MP4 file in the Finder on Mac, and QuickTime will open it.
  • Click File on the top bar menu and choose Open File, then select a MP4 file on your Mac, and click Open.
Play MP4 on Mac with QuickTime
Play MP4 on Mac with QuickTime

QuickTime Player also allows you to customize your video playback on Mac. For example, you can drag the controls to play video or audio file. Adjust playback speed (2x, 5x, 10x, 30x, and 60x) by using the forward or rewind button. Click the picture-in-picture button to play a MP4 video while doing other tasks on your computer. And loop a video to make it play continuously.

Part 2. How to Play MP4 on Mac without QuickTime?

If your QuickTime can't play MP4 files very smoothly or the playback performance is bad, you can try to use other Mac MP4 video player. To be honest, there is no need to hang yourself to a specific tree. As better choices are prepared, you can directly use one of them to help play MP4 files on Mac easily, smoothly and in high quality.

No.1: VLC Media Player

VLC media player, as the most popular and powerful MP4 player for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, etc. can be the best QuickTime alternative to play MP4, MOV, MKV, AVI, WMV, etc. videos on Mac successfully. No matter MP4 clips, MP4 movies or online MP4 streams, VLC is cable of handling them. BTW, it is totally free and open-source.

MP4 Player Mac VLC
Play MP4 on Mac with VLC

How to play MP4 files on Mac with VLC?

Step 1. Free download VLC media player for Mac, install and launch it.

Step 2. Play MP4 on Mac with VLC through one of the following ways.

  1. Drag and drop your MP4 file to the main user interface of VLC, and then VLC will open it immediately.
  2. On the UI of VLC for Mac, click on "Open media" to browse your video files and then choose a MP4 video to open.
  3. On the top bar your Mac, click on "File" to choose "Open File" to add a MP4 video, click "Advanced Open File" to browse your videos, or click "Open Network" to stream MP4 videos.

Note: VLC is not perfect but there are many drawbacks. As for VLC MP4 video playback, errors you may also encounter include MP4 no audio, no video, 4K MP4 choppy, washed out colors, etc.

No.2: 5KPlayer

Compared to VLC media player, this one is less-known to people but it is indeed a more versatile MP4 file player for Mac with DLNA, AirPlay, and video URL stream functions built-in. Including comprehensive video audio codecs for MP4 like HEVC H.263/H.264/H.265, AAC, etc., 5KPlayer is surely a better choice if your QuickTime or VLC media player won’t play MP4 videos on Mac. No need to download extra codecs, convert MP4 video format or even install the outdated plugin, you can open MP4, any container and codec format on both Mac and Windows.

Play MP4 on Mac with 5KPlayer
Play MP4 on Mac with 5KPlayer

How to Open MP4 on Mac with 5KPlayer?

Step 1. Free download 5KPlayer for Mac, install and launch it.

Step 2. Play MP4 on Mac with it through one of the following ways.

  1. Drag and drop your MP4 file to the main UI of 5KPlayer to play.
  2. On the UI of 5KPlayer, simply click on "Video" button to choose a MP4 file to play.
  3. On the top bar your Mac, click on "File" to choose "Open file" to add a MP4 video to 5KPlayer.

Step 3. If you want to watch your MP4 video on smart TV from Mac, you can simply turn on 5KPlayer’s DLNA function and then click on the "dlna" icon on the top right corner to stream the MP4 video to your TV.

No.3: Elmedia Player

Elmedia Player is one of the best MP4 players for Mac. It offers many features, an easy-to-use interface, and high format and codec compatibility. You can use it to open nearly any container file or codec including MP4, MKV, WMV, FLAC, M4A, WAV, OGG, etc. even in Full HD 4K and 8K video. Besides playing MP4 on Mac in playlist, you can also do subtitle search, open additional audio and subtitle tracks and sync them up. By upgrading to Elmedia PRO, you can unlock features including streaming, video tuning and audio equalization, automated screenshotting and subtitle saving.

Play MP4 on Mac with Elmedia Player
Play MP4 on Mac with Elmedia Player

How to Open MP4 files on Mac with Elmedia Player?

Step 1. Download and install the app, and run it on your Mac.

Step 2. Open Elmedia Player and play MP4 on Mac with following ways.

  • Drag and drop the MP4 file on the player's window or directly onto the icon in the Dock;
  • Right-click the MP4 file and choose "Open With:", then choose Elmedia Player from the list;
  • From the Main Menu, click on File and then Open to select the MP4 file you wish to access.

Part 3. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I play MP4 files on my Mac?

Yes. You can play most MP4 videos on Mac with QuickTime Player, and other MP4 files encoded with some codecs can also be played by QuickTime if you download the required codecs or simply convert MP4 to Mac-supported formats like MOV. If playing MP4 on Mac with QuickTime is not very satisfying, you can also turn to third-party Mac MP4 player like VLC and 5KPlayer.

2. Why won’t my MP4 files play on Mac?

Codec incompatibility is main reason to blame. As MP4 is a container format that could contain different video and audio codecs besides MPEG-4 or H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec, while QuickTime only plays MP4 on Mac encoded with MPEG-4 or H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec. What’s more, codec issue also affects the MP4 playback performance of other media players like VLC. That’s why MP4 won’t play on Mac occasionally, and that’s the reason you need to convert MP4 videos to a friendlier video format for your default media player to play.

3. What app opens MP4 on Mac?

There are numerous choices. Qualified MP4 player apps for Mac include QuickTime, VLC Media Player, 5KPlayer, GOM Player, Elmedia Player, MPlayer X, Cisdem Video Player for Mac, VOX, Movist Video Player, etc.

4. Is MP4 compatible with Quicktime?

Based upon the QuickTime File Format, MP4 should be natively compatible with QuickTime Player. However, the premise is that the MP4 file is encoded with codecs QuickTime supports, say MPEG-4 or H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec. Since MP4 is a container format that can contain various different codecs besides MPEG-4 (AAC) or H.264 (AAC), that's why sometimes you can play MP4 on Mac with QuickTimes, while sometimes you can't.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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