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If an audio or video file doesn't play on Mac

Older or specialized media formats might require other software. 

Apple apps such as QuickTime Player, Photos, and Keynote work with many kinds of audio and video formats. Some apps prefer specific formats, but QuickTime movie files (.mov), most MPEG files (.mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mpg), some AVI and WAV files, and many other formats usually work in most apps without additional software.

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.

How to search for an app that works with your file

You might already have an app that supports the format of your file. If you don't know which of your installed apps to try, your Mac might be able to suggest one:

  1. Control-click (or right-click) the file in the Finder.
  2. From the shortcut menu that opens, choose Open With. You should see a submenu listing all of the other installed apps that your Mac thinks might be able to open the file.

If none of your installed apps can open the file, search the Internet or Mac App Store for apps that can play or convert the file:

  • Include the name of the media format in your search. To find the format, select the file and press Command-I to open an Info window. The format might appear after the label Kind, such as ”Kind: Matroska Video File.”
  • Include the filename extension in your search. The extension is the letters shown at the end of the file's name, such as .avi, .wmv, or .mkv.

One such application is the Open-Source media player VLC, which can be downloaded here.

Learn more

  • QuickTime Player (version 10.0 and later) in OS X Mavericks through macOS Mojave converts legacy media files that use certain older or third-party compression formats.
  • Learn about incompatible media in Final Cut Pro and iMovie.