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How to play AVI files on QuickTime in Mac (or PC's)

Rob Parsons Updated on Apr 15, 2022 4:22 PM

If you've had your ear to the ground you know that Macs and PCs have been competitors for many years, and as a result, file, software, and hardware compatibility issues always exist. In this article, I'd like to focus specifically on file compatibility—how to make .avi movie files, which work smoothly in PC machine, playable on QuickTime in Mac OS X.

AVI is a multimedia container format—not a specific type of file, in which the audio and video are interleaved to maintain simultaneous playback. There was once a time when trying to view AVI via QuickTime player was unsuccessful. Although QuickTime 7 and QuickTime X (QuickTime Player v10.x) structure embeds are AVI compatible, QT X AVFoundation only recognizes AVI files that include Motion JPEG encoded video with PCM audio. Therefore, the playback of AVI through QuickTime on Mac or PC's will mostly depend on the type of compression (or codec) of the AVI itself. Is there any way to play .avi files in QuickTime without considering its video & audio codec? Absolutely yes!

How to watch AVI movie files via the QuickTime player on a Mac/ PC

Before we get into the solutions, we'll start by reminding you that Mac computer brings native playback of many media formats and codecs out of the box with its pre-installed QuickTime software, such as MJPEG, DV, MPEG-2, QuickTime Movie (.mov), MPEG-4 (.mp4, .m4v), AVCHD (OS X Mountain Lion or later), 3GPP2, 3GPP, iTunes Audio, MP3, AIFF, AMR, WAV, AU and more.

Method 1: Convert AVI to a QuickTime playable format with AVI conversion tool

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for Windows | for MacOS

If the codecs (i.e. Xvid, DivX, mpeg-4, wmv8...) used to create the original AVI files are not proprietary and you don't want to install many of different codec packages on your computer, then the easiest way to get .avi format playable in QuickTime on Mac platform is convert AVI file into a format that's QuickTime accepts—MOV for example, with video conversion utility.

There are scads of video conversion tools you can use to convert files from one format to another. What we're going to use is Video Converter for Mac, which converts all of your digital videos to the format you want, and has preset formats optimized to fit particular handy devices or players for the novice user as well as advanced conversion settings for the power user. In order to convert AVI for playing on QuickTime on PC platform, please refer to its Windows version Video Converter for Windows.

Main interface below.

Start your converting project by navigating to AVI movies to the left pane of the main interface. Just either click the "Add File" button to choose the raw AVI files that you want to work with or simply drag the AVI videos directly from your machine. All added .avi files will be shown as the screenshot.

Next, select the required output format that can be playable in QuickTime player from the "Profile" drop-down menu on the lower left side of the screen. Here you then pick MOV (Apple QuickTime format), MP4 or M4V (Apple QuickTime format) as output configuration from the list.

Finally, simply press the "Convert" button and the software will start converting AVI to QuickTime immediately. This app will do the rest automatically and the time taken to convert the AVI will depend on the length of the original file.


Method 2: Try installing an older version of QuickTime 7

Each Mac OS X version has a different version of QT embedded structure, and each one only supports playing a small number of video & audio codecs to be compatible with that operating system. In Mac OS X v10.6 and newer, since the QuickTime X (QT Player v10.x) AVFoundation playback structure no longer posses an open codec architecture for 3rd party plugins or components installation, you can't drop AVI files that aren't encoded as Mjpeg video with PCM onto QuickTime X player for direct playback. In that case, you need to install an older version of QuickTime 7 or similar software to be able to use 3rd party codec plugins to play the .avi and other non-Mac files.

Download QuickTime Player 7 for Mac OS X v10.6.3 or later

For plug-ins or components, you can find several third-party plug-ins on the web to view AVI videos via QuickTime 7, no matter what the video codec is used under the .avi container. Amongst them, Perian is one of the universal and most all-encompassing plugin that allows you to play a wide variety of video files, including *.avi, *.wmv, *.mkv, *.vob, *.rm and others.


Method 3: Try downloading a universal media player - VLC to Play AVI

If you don't want to convert AVI file to a QuickTime format, nor download the earlier version of QuickTime 7, another solution for native AVI playback on Mac is to use something like VLC media player.

VLC player is a cross platform application that works for Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, Android and iOS. It has its own built-in codec package which lets you play a plethora of media formats (avi, mkv, mp4, wmv, mpeg, webm, and require no conversion effort on the user's part. It also provides many features you won't find in QuickTime player such as recording online radio streams, adding logo watermark, capturing screen, and more.

It's open source and free to download. You can get the download link Mac version from VLC website http://www.videolan.org/vlc/download-macosx.html or Search MacUpdate for VLC.


It is that easy to solve QuickTime AVI issue with the help of the above professional AVI to QuickTime Converter and other two ways, so all kind of AVI video files can be playable with big fun and joy.

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The default QuickTime X player (64-bit) in Macs with Mavericks or above operating system only play AVI container files containing MJPEG video along with any supported form of compressed audio like linear PCM. Any other types of AVI files will need to be converted prior to working on Mac with the three latest versions of Mac OS X (Maverics, Yosemite, EL Capitan).

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