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What is MKV? How to Play or Convert MKV Video on Computer?

MKV Container Format Features

Matroska (MKV) is designed with the future in mind. It incorporates features you would expect from a modern container format, like:

• Fast seeking in the file
• Chapter entries
• Full metadata (tags) support
• Selectable subtitle/audio/video streams
• Modularly Expendable
• Error resilience (can recover playback even when the stream is damaged)
• Streamable over the internet and local networks (HTTP, CIFS, FTP, etc)
• Menus (like DVDs have)

MKV is an open standard project. This means it is absolutely free for personal use and the technical specifications describing the bitstream are open to everybody, even to companies that would like to support it in their products. The source code of the libraries developed by the Matroska Development Team is licensed under GNU L-GPL. In addition to that, there are also free parsing and playback libraries available under the BSD license, for commercial software and hardware adoption. MKV is not a natively supported video format on Windows and macOS. For example, MKV videos won't play in Windows Media Player in most of time. What's more, MKV is also not playable on many devices like iPhone and Xbox and , so a MKV video player is a must-have to enjoy MKV video files.

MKV - Matroska is an English word derived from the Russian word matryoshka, which means nesting doll (the common Russian cylindrical-shaped doll within a doll, also known as a babushka doll). This is a play on the container (media within a form of media/doll within a doll) aspect of the matryoshka as it is a container for visual and audio data. The loose transliteration may be confusing for Russian speakers, as the Russian word matroska actually refers to a sailor suit.

Goals of Matroska, aka MKV

  1. Create and document a modern, flexible and cross-platform Audio/Video container format, in combination with an open codec API to form a free and open media framework.
  2. Establish MKV as the opensource alternative to containers, like AVI, ASF, MOV, MP4, MPEG.
  3. Develop a set of tools for the creation, editing and implementation of Matroska files.
  4. Develop libraries and tools for software developers to be able to support Matroska in their applications.
  5. Prepare hardware support of Matroska files in next generations standalone units, in close cooperation with device manufacturers.
  6. Support adoption and implementation of Matroska's in open architectures like FFmpeg, VLC or GStreamer Launch a set of DirectShow filters for playback and creation of MKV files on Windows Operating Systems.

MKV Supported Video/Audio/Subtitle Formats

Common video coding format supported by MKV:
VP8, VP9, AV1, HEVC, MPEG-4AVC, Theora, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, etc.

Common audio coding format supported by MKV:
MP3, AAC, AC-3, DTS, WMA, Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, ALAC, WMA Lossless, etc.

Subtitle/caption format supported by MKV:
SubRip, WebVTT, ASS, SSA.

Useful Tools You May Need:

#Tool 1 - WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe

An one-stop video processing software to handle MKV
● Convert MKV to MP4, AVI etc., or Vice Versa    ● Compress 4K MKV to 1080P

For Windows and Mac only. If you are a mobile user, please click here.

#Tool 2 - 5KPlayer

A totally free and clean (MKV) HD video player for both Windows and Mac.


author - Kistent Waung

Kistent Waung twitter icon

Graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, she employs herself in IT related content creation (since 2013) and happens to perfectly combine her major (computer & science) and her gusto (writing). She's seasoned at offering video audio conversion workarounds and always passionate about new trends, from hot HEVC, 4K to the new AV1 codec.

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