Of all the types of iPhone videos not playing issues with your Mac, HEVC (H.265) media playback error seems to be the most frustrating one. For example, HEVC videos recorded on iPhone XS with the camera app won't open in QuickTime/iTunes on Mac with unsupported format error. The HEVC 4K video playback is very choppy and laggy in VLC. Users who are using older Mac models cannot play HEVC videos on photos app that says full resolution isn't supported.
Old software and hardware may lead to iPhone HEVC media compatibility and misbehaving issue that can be resolved by updating to macOS High Sierra or later and replacing your old hardware. But let's start with the easiest fix - use VideoProc to process iPhone HEVC footages and make them playable on macOS without updating software and hardware.
1. Process iPhone HEVC Video to Another Format
If the HEVC video taken from iPhone won't open in Photos app, QuickTime, iTunes, or other player apps on macOS, saying unsupported format, you are suggested to converting the iPhone HEVC video to H.264 MP4 or other formats accepted by Mac to solve the compatibility issue. Note that Handbrake and FFmpeg decode HEVC files to hev1, while Apple prefers hvc1. That's why some of you still cannot play HEVC videos from iPhone on Mac after conversion. Use steps below to fix HEVC compatibility issue without any fuss.
Step 1: Open VideoProc, click the Video button on the main interface, and the video window will appear.
Step 2: Add the source video to load by clicking the + Video icon at the top menu bar on the video window. Or directly drag and drop the video to the window. Batch video processing is supported.
Step 3: Select MP4 H.264 on the Target Format list.
Step 4: Click the blue RUN button at the right bottom of the window to start iPhone HEVC video transcoding. Now the HEVC video from iPhone should open and play on macOS.
2. Lower Down the 4K HEVC Video Resolution
As we mentioned at the beginning, iPhone 4K HEVC video cannot play on old Mac models, saying the full resolution isn't supported. Some also report the playback freezes or interrupts with high CPU usage, meaning that your Mac is struggling with decoding 4K UHD HEVC video shot by iPhone. Apple says "Mac models from mid-2015 or earlier work with HEVC that was captured at no greater than 1080p/240fps". When you are not willing to update your Mac, just use VideoProc to simply switch the HEVC 4K video to 1080p. See why you cannot play 4k 60fps video >>
Step 1: Launch VideoProc and import the iPhone 4K HEVC video that won't play smoothly on Mac.
Step 2: Select an output format on the list of Target Format. Click the codec Option button next to the video information on the top.
Step 3: Under the Video Codec Options catalog, click the Resolution drop-down icon and select the resolution lower than 2160p from the list. Click the Done button to save the setting and close the window.
Step 4: Click the RUN button to begin to fix the iPhone 4K HEVC video choppy/laggy playback issue on Mac.
The problem with videos playback on iPhone caused by incompatible format, large 4K videos, high bit rate/frame rate, you can resort to the iPhone video converter and processing software as well to easily get the issue fixed.
3. Upgrade macOS
Only macOS High Sierra or later can work with HEVC codec. If you are using old macOS, try to update to macOS High Sierra or later to play HEVC videos from iPhone. Before you begin, check if your Mac meets and system requirements and make a backup for Mac.
macOS High Sierra compatible models
MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)
MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
iMac (Late 2009 or newer)
Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
macOS Mojave hardware requirements
MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or newer)
MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer)
Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
iMac Pro (2017)
- from Apple Support
4. Replace Your Old Hardware
macOS High Sierra includes a software decoder for HEVC. However, you may be still unable to play HEVC video in 4K UHD shot by iPhone smoothly. 4K HEVC video requires a dedicated decoder in the CPU which lacks on older Macs such as 2010 MacBook Air, MacBook, 2009 iMac. The HEVC video encoding and decoding are hardware intensive. Your Mac must have a newer processor to play iPhone HEVC 4K videos without freezing or lagging.
Hardware acceleration can help users view iPhone high-resolution HEVC videos on Mac smoothly with minimal impact on CPU load. Skylake and Kaby Lake processors featured on newer Macs such as late 2015 5K iMac, the 2017 21-inch iMac, and MacBooks and MacBook Pros from 2016 and 2017 support hardware-accelerated processing of 4K UHD HEVC files. Upgrade your old hardware if you don't factor the cost to get iPhone 4K HEVC clips playing on Mac freely.
Gabriel is a technical editor with several years of writing experience. Gabriel covers video processing, post-production, hardware, Windows, Apple's Macs, iPhones, iPads, and all kinds of technology topics. He loves collecting cool gadgets and trying new things like virtual reality, drones, 8K TVs and the latest 4K games. He also has interests in reading, photography, climbing, scuba diving, and tennis.
Aiming to be the leading digital media company, Digiarty Software, Inc. is dedicated to providing professional and innovative multimedia software for all Windows and Mac users.