What is M4V
M4V is a video file format introduced by Apple and shares similar features with the most popular format, MP4. The main difference lies in the fact that M4V is copyrighted to some extent. In most cases, M4V is used to compress video files that you purchase from iTunes Store like movies, TV shows and music files, so it is sometimes referred to as iTunes file format. Any use or distribution of M4V files without gaining permission could confront Apple's FairPlay protection.
Because of its nature, M4V could be used in iTunes and QuickTime Player. On top of that, M4V is also found on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems such as Media Player Classic, RealPlayer, DivX Plus Player, Android devices and so forth.
How to Play M4V Files
M4V files can be played on the computer if the latter has access to authorization. You can go to the Apple Support site to learn how to authorize your computer within your iTunes account. iOS devices support the playback of M4V video files if purchased. The unprotected M4V files can be recognized and played on VLC, MPlayer, Windows Media Player, etc. Other players are able to identify M4V files if you replace .m4v with .mp4 in file extension since these two formats are so alike.
Note: Changing a file extension in this manner doesn't necessarily mean that you convert M4V to another different format. Generally, you may need a video converter to achieve it. This way, you can change M4V to any formats you want, MP3, MKV, MOV and more. Also see: how to convert M4V file to MOV format on a Mac
The Difference Between MP4 and M4V
It is well known that MP4 is a universal video file format that is compatible with most players and systems. This format is also used to stream videos online due to low bandwidth requirement and desired compression standard. M4V derives from MP4 but is slightly from the latter. The protected M4V files are exclusively used on Apple products and can only be played on a computer that has been authorized. You cannot decide which one is better. Instead, the decision is made depending on specific needs. If you are dedicated to Apple products, then M4V may be a fine choice.
The primary difference is that M4V files may optionally be protected by DRM copy protection. Check our DRM Removal for getting rid of copy protection on a video.