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How to Play MP4 on Mac

Olga Weis Olga Weis Nov 3, 2022

MP4 is one of the most vividly used formats. Even though the format is easily played on different operating systems, the built-in video player for macOS, QuickTime, can sometimes fail to open this type of file. In this article, we've gathered several QuickTime alternatives for your consideration. So, let's take a look at how to play MP4 on Mac flawlessly.

Why Can't QuickTime Player Open MP4 on Mac?

The main reason why QuickTime Player can’t always play MP4 on Mac lies in the format encoding difference. In general, QuickTime is able to handle MP4 files that are encoded with MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and H.264. So if you face the issue that your QuickTime is unable to playback MP4, most likely the file was encoded using a different standard.

According to Apple:

"Older or specialized media formats might not work in your app, because the format requires software designed to support it. If that happens, your app won't open the file or won't play back its audio or video"


Among the other possible reasons is also the outdated version of QuickTime Player. So check whether you are using the updated version as some functions can’t be operated under an outdated version, that is why cursing issues with playing MP4 on Mac.

Last but not least reason why QuickTime can’t open MP4 on Mac is the file state. The file can be damaged or corrupted and that is why you can’t open it on Mac.

Best Way to Play MP4 on Mac - Elmedia Player

Elmedia: universal video player

4.8 Rank based on 1531 + users Reviews(793)
Requirements: macOS 10.12+
Version: v8.10(3265), Released 24 Nov, 2022 Release notes
Category: Video

Unlike the native macOS media player QuickTime, Elmedia Player can handle different container formats and codecs. This video player for Mac guarantees seamless playback no matter if it is MKV, WMV, MOV, WMA, M4V, DivX, FLAC, M4A, WAV, or even an OGG file format.

Having an easy-to-use interface, Elmedia has gathered the most necessary features for comfortable playback of your favorite movies. Among its arsenal, you can find such features as the ability to create playlists, the ability to open additional audio and subtitle tracks and sync them up, the ability to export and import bookmarks, support for picture-in-picture mode, and way more.

The Best Free Video Player for Mac.

The app is distributed in the free and paid version. Upgrading the Elmedia to the PRO version will provide additional features, however, the free functionality will be enough to open MP4 on Mac and have comfortable video playback.

Rating in App Store: 4.5 out of 5

"Elmedia Player is a strong option for people who need to play many different types of video files. It is a versatile program with a slick modern interface that can be used for a variety of purposes."
— By Nicolas Calderone, MacSources

How to Open MP4 on Mac with Elmedia Player

1
Get Elmedia Player. Download MP4 video player from the official website and install the app on your Mac.

 Downloading Elmedia Player will take you a few minutes.
2

Launch Elmedia Player and choose the way to open the MP4 file:

  • Drag and drop the file directly onto the icon in the Dock.
  • Drag the .mp4 from your Finder and drop it to the player’s window.
  • Right-click the MP4 file and select the "Open With" option.
  • In Elmedia’s main menu select File > Open.
 Playing a video in the player is very simple and there are several options.
3
That’s it! Enjoy watching MP4 on Mac with ease.

Benefit From Top Features of Elmedia Player PRO

Unlock even more features offered in the paid version of Elmedia Player and benefit from them all. Have an amazing experience of paying MP4 on Mac.

Stream Manage subtitles Adjust video and sound
Support for both streaming and receiving functionality.

Integrated subtitles search via opensubtitles.org.

Built-in subtitle search via opensubtitles.org.

Enhanced video tuner for fine adjustment of color parameters.
Open Online Video feature allows streaming content from YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion with absolutely no ads. Ability to adjust appearance (font, size, color, encoding). Support for deinterlacing.
Ability to stream files in the original formats as well as convert incompatible formats on the go. Support for synchronization adjustment. Support for endless loop for any video segment.
Ability to stream MP4 as well as other formats to Apple TV, Chromecast, or Smart TV. Ability to play videos on multiple monitors in full-screen mode.

Alternative Video Players to Watch MP4 on Mac

Wondering how to play MP4 on Mac easily besides using Elmedia Player? We have included several converter apps, in case you are limited to the QuickTime Player and another powerful video player for your consideration.

Movist Pro Video Player

Movist Pro is another excellent app that can help you seamlessly handle MP4 on Mac. The app was originally developed based on QuickTime and FFmpeg decoders. It is a highly customizable player for Mac that features lots of functions for the most convenient video playback.

Among its arsenal, you can find support for accelerated decoding with H.265, the ability to use multiple subtitles at once, the ability to stream from YouTube, automatic playlist generation, etc. Besides that, Movist has the Safari extension making it the best online MP4 video player.

Movist is an easy-to-use and powerful movie player.

icon pros Pros:

  • Support for picture-in-picture mode
  • Playlist auto-filling and export
  • Full subtitle support
  • Access to FTP server.

icon cons Cons:

  • No AirPlay support.

Rating in App Store: 4.2 out of 5

Price: $4.99

Supported OS: macOS

How to Play MP4 on Mac via Movist

1
Download Movist and install it on your Mac computer.
2

Launch the app. You can use one of the several methods to play the video:

  • Drag and drop the file right to the app’s window.
  • From the main menu choose File > Open File and select the desired video.
3
That’s it. Now you can play MP4 on Mac and enjoy watching your content.

JustPlay

If you are looking for a compact MP4 video player for Mac, but with many different options, JustPlay is worth your consideration. It supports almost any video or audio format, including MP4, MOV, AVI, SWF, MP3 and other common formats. This app is also able to work with such resolutions as Ultra HD, 4K and 8K thanks to hardware acceleration, as well as features advanced settings for playback and subtitles. On top of that, there is a deinterlacing feature that allows improving the quality of videos.

In fact, the list of features goes on and on. If you're still in doubt whether to install JustPlay or not, here are its pros and cons to help you decide.

Great app with a very friendly interface.

icon pros Pros:

  • Comes with deinterlace feature
  • Touch Bar support
  • Enhanced playback settings
  • Allows tuning videos to your liking.

icon cons Cons:

  • Exporting, editing or conversion are missing
  • No demo version.

Rating in App Store: 4.5 out of 5

Price: $4.99

Supported OS: macOS

How to Open MP4 Files on Mac using JustPlay

1
Download and install JustPlay on your Mac.
2
Launch the app and navigate to File > “Open…”
3
Locate an MP4 file you want to play and select it. Then click “Open”.
4
Alternatively, you can open a file by dragging it from the Finder to the player window or the app icon in the Dock.

VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player (formerly known as VideoLan Client) is a very popular free video player that flawlessly opens WMV and most other formats on Mac and other operating systems. The app is capable of playing 360-degree videos and multimedia files up to 8K resolution.

VLC offers lots of handy features for video and audio playback. What’s more, it also provides converting and recording options, and comes with downloadable plugins for more advanced functionality. There are some downsides, however, and one of them is the not-so-intuitive menu. This can make it difficult to find many of these features.

The complete video toolbox to convert, compress, edit videos.

icon pros Pros:

  • Comes with deinterlace feature
  • Touch Bar support
  • Enhanced playback settings
  • Allows tuning videos to your liking.

icon cons Cons:

  • Exporting, editing or conversion are missing
  • No demo version.

Rating in Trustpilot: 2.2 out of 5

Price: Free

Supported OS: macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS

How to Play MP4 on Mac via VLC Media Player

1
Download and install VLC Media Player on your Mac.
2
Launch VLC.
3
Go to File > Open File…
4
Find an .mp4 file you want to play, select it and click “Open”.

Ways to Convert MP4 Video

Alternatively, you can convert MP4 video to another suitable format. If the video won't open on your Mac, converting will be a great option to watch it on your device. Luckily, there is a wide variety of converters available, both online and downloadable. Below we have compiled one of the best converters for your consideration.

MacX Video Converter

MacX Video Converter is an efficient software that allows you to compress or convert video files at the highest speed without losing the quality of the file. It comes with many features and different formats to choose from thus helping you with the issue of playing MP4 on Mac.

In addition, MacX Video Converter also serves as a YouTube, Vimeo, and Vevo downloader and way more. The application can handle virtually any format, and the list of supported devices includes more than 420 profiles.

Multifunctional video converter for macOS.

Price: $29.95

Supported OS: macOS, Windows

Wondershare UniConverter

Wondeshare UniConverter is a powerful, sophisticated yet easy-to-understand and operate video converter that can help you with the issue of how to play MP4 on Mac. The app is used to convert video, audio, and images to many formats, including MP4, MKV, MP3, FLAC, JPG, and PNG, extract and copy media from physical (CD and DVD) and online sources, and even burn media to removable disks. Moreover, thanks to the batch conversion function you can convert multiple videos at once, thus saving you time.

The complete video toolbox to convert, compress, edit videos.

Price: $19.99/month

Supported OS: macOS, Windows

What Is an MP4 File?

An MP4 file, or the .mp4 format, is a multimedia container created to store audiovisual data. It was created by the Moving Picture Experts Group (abbreviated MPEG), and it’s one of the most popular video formats out there. It can handle digital video and audio streams, as well as subtitles and images. Being capable of Internet streaming is yet another advantage you get from using an MP4 file.

MP4 is a format that compresses files well and has almost no quality loss.

Advantages and Downsides of MP4

icon pros Pros:

  • Decent compression ratio, while being quick to encode
  • Fast decoding and ubiquitous native support - HD playback is less taxing
  • Optimal for online streaming.

icon cons Cons:

  • Formats with better compression ratio are available
  • Compression incurs minor permanent quality losses
  • Metadata limited compared to formats like MKV.

Supported MP4 Codecs and Types of Apple MPEG

While MP4 is a container format that can hold most codecs, only a few of them will be considered "correct" and supported natively. If you choose other codecs when encoding your MP4, this may lead to incompatibilities in default system players such as QuickTime. An MP4 is expected to contain any of the following:

  1. Video — MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264) and MPEG-4 Part 2.
  2. Audio — AAC, ALS, SLS, TTSI, MP3, and ALAC.
  3. Subtitles — MPEG-4 Timed Text.

As opposed to the standard MP4 and M4A, Apple owns several variations of MPEG formats, altered to add DRM, increase macOS compatibility, and add functionality, such as chapters. These files include:

  1. M4P — Audio encrypted by FairPlay Digital Rights Management.
  2. M4B — Audiobooks and podcasts.
  3. M4V — MPEG-4 Visual bitstreams.

Conclusion

As you see playing MP4 on Mac is not a complicated thing. You can always use macOS native player QuickTime. In case the player is incapable of playing this file, you can always rely on third-party apps, like Elmedia Player. We hope that our article was helpful and you figured out how to open and watch MP4 on Mac.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Usually, Macs should be able to play .mp4 files natively. Double-clicking on the MP4 and opening it in the default application is the most straightforward way to do it. However, sometimes QuickTime fails to play MP4 on Mac correctly due to various video or audio codecs that are usually included in an MP4 container. In situations like these, you need one of the best MP4 video player for Mac solutions, like Elmedia Player.

According to the Apple Support Website, QuickTime is capable of supporting MPEG-4 (.mp4, .m4v, .mp3, .mpg). However, since MP4 is a highly complex video container with many other codecs for audio and video, QuickTime will sometimes have issues with the playback.

To easily get around this issue, you have various other video players at hand. Elmedia Player is a great choice for playing any type of .mp4 file on your Mac. Alternatively, you can convert MP4 video to another format that is compatible with QuickTime.

Sometimes, MP4 files can easily be opened on Mac devices using the QuickTime Player, while on some other occasions, they may not work at all. MP4 does not have one particular file extension but instead, several different ones, based on the files that are encoded within.

As such, QuickTime does support .mp4 and .m4v but it may have some trouble when attempting to run other types of extensions behind the MPEG-4 format. This is why we strongly recommend purchasing a third-party application able to run absolutely all MP4 on Mac without any errors whatsoever.

MPEG-4, MP4, and MOV are all using the exact same compression system, which makes them quite similar. Nevertheless, there are some key differences between these two formats. In general, MP4 is much better perceived than MOV, mostly due to its vast compatibility with a wide range of platforms, as well as its tagging options. As such, MP4 appears as far more versatile and flexible than MOV, even though in terms of quality, the differences between the two are indistinguishable.
The main reason why you can't open MP4 on Mac is codec incompatibility. MP4 container can contain files compressed using different codecs besides MPEG-4 or H. 264 video codec and AAC audio codec. Unfortunately, QuickTime can only play MP4 on Mac that is encoded with the mentioned above codes.
You can use the default macOS player QuickTime. However, if you want a more enhanced video player, we recommend taking a closer look at Elmedia Player.
Elmedia: universal video player
Requirements: macOS 10.12+ , 89.23MB of free space
Version 8.10(3265) (24 Nov, 2022) Release notes
Category: MultimediaApplication
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