How to Fix QuickTime Player Can’t Open Videos


QuickTime offers a great variety of features and functionality, however, sometimes Mac users may face the issue when the file isn’t compatible with QuickTime Player or simply it won’t open. In this article, we have analyzed what causes the playback error, considered possible ways to eliminate them and provided you with several ways to get around this situation.

QuickTime Player Not Working When Trying to Open Files

Most Mac users are happy using the basic programs pre-installed on the operating system, such as Music, QuickTime Player, and iCloud Drive. But those who expect greater functionality from their media players might find that, occasionally, their QuickTime Player won’t work when trying to open different file types.

"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."
— Official developer Apple

One of the major benefits of Apple’s patented media player, QuickTime, is that it’s free and supports basic video file types: .mov, .mp4, .vob, .3gp, .dv, .ts, .mts, .avi, plus audio files such as – .mp3, .flac, .m4a, .m4b, .aiff, .(e)ac3, .m4p, .wav.

With such a range of accepted file types, it’s surprising and frustrating when QuickTime can’t open a file. There are several reasons for this error and below we will consider each of the reasons in detail.

File corruption may be the cause if QuickTime won’t open .mp4 or .mov files

The fastest way to check for file corruption is to use another free media player to open the file, such as Music or VLC. By double-checking the file with other applications, you confirm the problem is not because of a QuickTime Player error but a file error. A corrupted file doesn’t automatically mean the data in that file is lost forever. File repair programs (many of which are free) can resolve issues with file corruption.

System cause as one more reason for QuickTime won’t open error

Sometimes the reason for QuickTime playback failure may lie in system problems. For instance, a virus or malware can be the reason for QuickTime Player not playing video issue. That’s why it is highly recommended to have reliable antivirus software and periodically scan your system in order not to miss and in a timely manner get rid of a virus located on your Mac.

Searching for the Apps That Can Open the File

Most likely, there is a necessary app already installed on your Mac computer that can help you with opening the file. Follow this guide to find the right app:

Search the apps that can open the file.

1. Locate the file in Finder and right-click it.

2. Select the “Open With” option from the context menu.

3. A list of all installed apps will be suggested by your Mac computer thinking that they can help you dealing with the issue.

In case the above method didn’t work and none of the apps could help you, try to find the apps that can handle such kind of format or can convert it to another one. Search can be performed on the Internet or Mac App Store.

  • In order to find the name of the format and perform your search find the file and press Command-I to open an Info window. Search for the Kind lable to see the name of the file format. For instance, “Kind: Matroska Video File”.
  • Perform your search by including the filename extension. You can find it at the end of the file’s name. For instance, .avi, .wmv, or .mkv.

Additional Information for Future: Formats Compatible with QuickTime

Despite being one of the great open-source media player with support for a large list of media formats, QuickTime is not perfect. From time to time Mac users face up with this file isn’t compatible with the QuickTime player issue, meaning that some formats are still not supported by QuickTime.

For your consideration, we have gathered the list of formats that are one hundred percent supported by QuickTime:

  • Video format
    QuickTime Player can handle different video formats. Among the list are MOV, MP4, M4V, VOB, M2TS (AVCHD), MTS, M2T, TS, and less common, namely AVI (MJPEG), 3GP, and DV.
  • Audio format 
    As for the audio file formats, here you can find support for MP2, MP3, M4B, M4P, AMR, (E)AC3, AIFF, AU, CAF, FLAC, WAV, and M4A (both for reading and writing modes).

Ways to fix the Issue — Our Advice

Use conversion software

If you still face incompatibility issues and none of the above ways help you then it’s high time to use conversion tools. However, finding the perfect solution with an easy-to-use interface and support for a great number of video formats is not an easy thing.

For your convenience, we have tested and analyzed hundreds of solutions and came up with the list (based on user rating in the Mac App Store) that can help you solve the file isn’t compatible with the QuickTime Player issue, namely:

  • The Video Converter (free, offers in-app purchases)
The Video Converter
  • Video Converter X2
Video Converter X2
  • Smart Converter
Smart Converter

Switch to another media player for Mac

In case you have to regularly deal with video formats that are not supported by QuickTime Player, another best option is to install a third-party player for Mac. You can easily make it a default video player and forget about QuickTime won’t open the file you wish to watch.

We can recommend the following alternatives from the top ones in the App Store based on the list of features, availability (free versions), and the amount of positive feedback from users, namely:

  • Elmedia Player
Elmedia Player
  • MKPlayer
  • Final Video Player
Final Video Player


As you have already noticed, QuickTime can play almost any video but, unfortunately, there can be incompatibility issues and you may find QuickTime won’t open. In our article, we have tried to provide you with the necessary information on how to fix this issue as well as gave you some advices for your consideration. All the mentioned above methods are easy to follow and aimed to solve the problem within several minutes. And how do you cope with the QuickTime Player not playing video issue? Leave a comment below.


There may be occasions when you try every recommended solution. You still can’t get a file to play due to QuickTime Player errors. In those situations, it’s easiest to find another media player. This solution will also ensure it’s not an issue with file corruption.

Try a popular media player like Elmedia Player, VLC, MPlayerX, or 5KPlayer. They support most media formats and can open any file regardless of codec. If you want to learn more about alternative free Mac media players, read our VLC Media Player review. It highlights our favorite features and answers common questions about the player.

There are several ways to add audio or video file to QuickTime, namely:

  • Click the File tab, select a file, and then click “Open”.
  • Launch Finder, navigate to the file, and double-click it to open.

Not all .mov files are the same! Some of them can contain codecs that aren’t supported by QuickTime. In this case, you’ll need to use a MOV player for Mac that supports all codecs.

QuickTime can’t decode all the possible codecs that may be found in an MP4 file. Try looking for an MP4 player for Mac that has higher overall compatibility.

Most likely, the videos aren’t encoded properly, or it’s simly a format that’s not compatible with QuickTime. However, it’s also possible that you’re experiencing a hardware issue.