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How to Play MP4 on Mac If QuickTime Player Can't Open

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Apple’s QuickTime player supports a wide range of file formats and MP4 format is listed as one of them. Then, how do we explain the fact that sometimes, MP4 won’t play on Mac? We’ve all been there - but it’s not the end of the world. We’re here to tell you why it happens. And more importantly, what you can do about it.
QuickTime can’t open MP4 on Mac

Why can’t QuickTime open MP4?

More often than not, QuickTime successfully plays MP4 files. After all, MP4 frequently contains MPEG-4, which is based on the QuickTime format. But there’s a catch. MP4 is a complex container format, so it may contain a number of different video and audio codecs. For example, while QuickTime can play MP4 media that uses the MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264 codecs, it may struggle with others. That’s why QuickTime and MP4 don’t always go hand in hand. Trying to play an MP4 file encoded with an incompatible codec will result in an error message in QuickTime and failure to play video and/or audio.

Best ways to open an MP4 file on a Mac

When your MP4 won’t play on Mac, it can be frustrating. However, there are several easy solutions you can use to resolve the issue. You can find more information about them below and pick the one that suits your needs.

Option 1: Play the MP4 in a good QuickTime alternative, Elmedia Player

If you’re wondering how to play MP4 on a Mac when QuickTime fails, look no further. Elmedia Player is an ideal all-around MP4 player for Mac because it supports an extensive number of file formats and boasts various additional features. Elmedia can play MP4, AVI, DIVX, FLV, SWF, WMV, MKV, MOV, MP3, DAT, among others. No further codecs or plug-ins required. It allows you to adjust playback aspects to your liking, such as video speed and appearance, audio settings, and subtitle support.

Elmedia’s PRO version at just $19.95 delivers an even wider range of functionalities, e.g. playback enhancements, making screenshots, etc. Also, it will allow you to stream wirelessly to Smart TVs, Chromecast, Airplay and DLNA-enabled devices.

Best MP4 Player for Mac

Learn how to open MP4 files on Mac with Elmedia Player

Playing MP4 using Elmedia Player is as easy as one-two-three. The app is very intuitive and doesn’t need a complex setup. Just do as follows:

1.Download the Elmedia Player app and install it on your Mac.

Open MP4 File on Mac with Elmedia

2. Run the player. Then, simply add videos to your in-app library by following either of these steps:

  • Drag and drop your MP4 file(s) onto the Elmedia window or the Elmedia icon on the Dock
  • In Finder, right-click on your MP4 file and select "Open With". Then, click on Elmedia Player to launch the file in the app.
  • In Elmedia Player itself, click on "File" and then "Open…"
Open MP4 File on Mac with Elmedia

3. Sit back and enjoy!

How to open MP4 on Mac?

Option 2: Convert the MP4 files using a converter app

If QuickTime won’t play MP4’s for you, you can opt to convert them to another readable format. That way, you can continue using QuickTime with MP4 without switching to a different video player.

One of the most practical and easy-to-use conversion tools out there is Movavi Video Converter for macOS. It can convert MP4, AVI, MOV, FLV files to MPEG-4 and more. What’s more, it has additional features allowing you to compress videos, adjust volume, trim and rotate clips, etc.

How to convert MP4 files for QuickTime in a few simple steps:

Convert MP4 to QuickTime
  1. Download and install Movavi Video Converter for macOS. Run the app.
  2. Click "Add Video" to select and import the MP4 file you’re looking to convert.
  3. Select your desired output format by clicking "Convert to" and choosing from the list.
  4. Click the "Convert" button to begin the conversion.
  5. Your QuickTime-friendly file is now ready to play!

Open MP4 files on Mac using Online Video Converter

If you’d like to skip installing new software on your Mac or just need a one-off file conversion, you can pick an online video converter.

For a hassle-free converter, visit

Convert MP4 online

Follow these steps:

  1. Click "Open file" to find and select an MP4 file to convert.
  2. For Resolution, you can choose Apple’s MOV file format or click on "Apple".
  3. Click the "Convert" button.
  4. Save the converted file by clicking "Download".
  5. All set! Your file is ready to play in QuickTime.

Hope you enjoyed the tips above and that your QuickTime vs. MP4 saga has come to an end!

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Requirements: OS X 10.12+ , 89.23MB free space
Version 8.10(3265) (24 Nov, 2022) Release notes