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How to play Matroska MKV files on Mac (1080p, 720p, etc.)

Rob Parsons Updated on Jun 29, 2022 10:47 AM

MKV (Matroska) is a flexible, open standard container format that's completely free for personal use. Whether you are downloading video clips or hot movies from online or if you get video files from friends, there is a high chance that you will come across FHD (1080p) resolution Matroska video files (.mkv) or regular HD (720p) MKV files.

Unfortunately, movie files ended in .mkv extension are not always friendly in media players. When you're on a Mac and try to open a MKV file on Mac QuickTime (see MKV to MOV conversion)——the default video & audio player that's integrated with every version of Mac out of the box, you will get an "invalid file" error message. The QuickTime can't be able to play MKV file format on Mac by default.

So, if you got a movie in the .mkv format, how can you play MKV movie on Mac OS X? There are actually quite a few ways to allows you to watch MKV video files in Mac smoothly. The following methods I'll describe below are both quite easy and efficient.

Method 1: Convert MKV to something a little more univeral for Mac OS

The best choice to play MKV videos for Mac platform is to convert MKV format into different, Mac acceptable formats. All that you need is a program called Video Converter for Mac.

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for Windows | for MacOS

It's a great piece of video converting software that does its job easily and quickly. It can converts MKV to MP4, M4V, MOV, Mjpeg that's recognized in Mac (QT, iTunes, iMovie, FCPX, Photos, iOS devices), and converts between other popular video files quickly through its highly intuitive interface.

Additionally, the program's built-in presets make it easy to convert a 1080p/720p MKV (or other) file to a format suitable for a number of devices that run operating systems like iOS and Android.

Basic Steps:

1. Load MKV (Matroska) movie files via drag-and-drop or by "Add File" button on the main interface.

2. Select the output type based on the type of video you want to produce in "Profile" menu.

3. Press "Convert" button.

Read Next: How to rip a Blu-ray and convert the movie content to MP4 video on Mac

Method 2: Install VLC for Mac to play MKV files

If you just want to play a MKV on Mac computer, no further actions are involved such as editing MKV in iMovie, importing it into iTunes or playback onto iPhone/iPad, consider switching to VLC media player (Mac version) instead.

VLC: https://www.videolan.org/vlc/download-macosx.html

VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player that provides users with a simple interface and customization options to play MKV files in a Mac, and almost anything ranging from video files, audio files, CDs, DVDs, ISO, network streams and more.

To play (HD) MKV in Mac, just download and installed the program on your Mac. Launch it and load the MKV movie files. You will notice that your MKVs now play just fine now on Mac. Yes, it's that simple.

Method 3: Install QuickTime plugin on Mac to view MKV (optional)

If you are hellbent to use QuickTime as the default player on your Mac, and want to play MKV without issue, you can still do so by installing an appropriate codec pack or plug-in on your system.

There are a large number of codecs and plugins available for download on the Internet to add playback support for missing formats you might come across, including AVI, WMV, MTS, VOB, MKV playback for Mac. Please note that some codecs packs/plugins may bundle links to other websites and third-party apps installations including toolbars, carefully using the custom options to uncheck other apps within the installation process. I'm not a fan of codec packs as you usually end up installing one after another to play the unsupported formats on your Mac with QuickTime.

Related: How can you convert a MKV file to WMV media file


The 3 ways mentioned above offer users flexibility for playing 720p/ 1080p MKV video files on Mac system. While installing VLC player is quite easy and quick, converting MKV lets you get a Mac readable file, so you can use it on Mac platform hassle-free later. Also, you can choose to install a QuickTime component to play the MKV file.

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