The best video players for the Apple Mac for watching movies

The best video players and media players for the Apple Mac and they are all free. If you can't play a video, these free tools for macOS can help

The Mac can play common video file formats, but it cannot play everything and if you have clips that won’t play, here are some alternative video players that will do the job.


QuickTime Player on the Apple Mac

QuickTime is baked into macOS of course and needs little introduction. Double click a .mov or .mp4 file in Finder and QuickTime loads it ready to play. The window can be resized and the video made full screen.

The range of file formats it can play is limited and it supports mov and most MPEG file formats, and some AVI files. It does not play mk3, flv, vob, and other file formats. It does not support playlists, so you can’t queue up half a dozen clips and sit back and watch them.

If you need a simple video player and don’t explore video file formats beyond what the Mac and iPhone can create, QuickTime is OK. It has some useful editing tools and it can export video to different output formats, still within the limited range, but different sizes.

VLC media player

VLC media player on the Apple Mac

VLC media player is much more than a simple video player and it is a media player, which means it plays a wide range of video and audio files. Not only can it play media files on the Mac’s disk, it can also stream media over the internet, such as internet radio stations. It is free too.

It beats QuickTime in many areas and it enables you to build up a playlist of items by dragging them from Finder and dropping them on the window. Playlists can be saved and loaded, so you can save your favourite video clips and watch them at any time.

The app can be used to browse the contents of the Movies, Pictures and Music folders on the Mac’s disk and files can be played or added to a playlist.

VLC has a reputation for playing almost all video file formats, so if you have videos that will not play in QuickTime, VLC will probably play them. It even plays DVDs if you have a DVD drive in your Mac or attached to it.

There are many extensions for VLC that add extra features and skins (graphical interfaces). It is quite rightly one of the best video players.

Cisdem VideoPlayer

Cisdem VideoPlayer on the Apple Mac

Cisdem VideoPlayer is a free app and it is much simpler app than VLC and has far fewer features. In fact, it just plays video clips and it does not even support playlists,

Its feature set it limited, but the app claims to support over 50 video and audio file formats. It should be able to play almost anything you have, including 1080p HD, 4K and 5K video. It played my admittedly limited collection of videos without any problems.

The player itself is very basic, but it is simple and does the job well enough. There are the usual play controls, pause, step forward and back, and so on. It can save screenshots of the video being played and an information screen shows the technical details and metadata.

If you don’t need all the features of VLC, try Cisdem VideoPlayer.


Using Safari browser as a video player on the Apple Mac

You may not realise it, but videos can be dragged from a Finder window and dropped on the address box in Safari to play them. The range of file types supported is limited, but if you stick to the same ones QuickTime supports then they should be fine.

As with QuickTime, videos can be sent to an AppleTV, played full screen, shared and more. Just Ctrl+click on the video for a menu. An unusual item on that menu is Picture in Picture. This breaks out the video into its own little window in the corner of the screen.

Safari as a movie player is limited, but quick and easy to use.


mpv video player on the Apple Mac

mpv is about as basic a free video player as you will find and the interface is minimal. Apart from video size, there is nothing on the menu. There are minimal controls in a toolbar at the bottom and you can play, jump to the next or previous videos.

Multiple videos can be dropped onto the mpv window to create a playlist and back and forward buttons enable you to select the one to play.

It can do more according to the FAQ and Wiki in the reference section on the website, such as play YouTube videos and YouTube playlists, but it is not easy to figure out how to do it.

It might be of interest to geeky types who like tinkering with software.


Miro media player on the Apple Mac

Miro is a free and open source video player for several platforms, including Apple Mac. It has a large range of features and does more than play videos. In some ways it is like VLC, but with a more attractive interface.

Videos can be loaded and played, and there are useful features like the ability to convert it into many different file formats. If you need a video conversion tool and not just a player, it is worth considering.

It has many unusual and unexpected features, such as a built in browser that enables you to explore YouTube, Hulu and other video websites, and play the videos. Amazon music can be browsed and music purchased, video and audio podcasts can be played and subscribed to, and more.

This is a comprehensive media centre that can be used to organise video, audio, and streaming sources. It is one of the best looking programs here.



Add new comment

Related items you will like...