"My .mov files shot by my iPhone (XS and X) don't play on my MacBook Pro running macOS Sierra. I've tried with QuickTime, VLC, DivX and none of them worked. They popped up errors. QuickTime: QuickTime Player can't open [file name].mov. VLC: VLC can't recognize the input's format. DivX Player: the player doesn't recognize this container format. MOV should be playable on Mac. Any suggestions? "
MOV format is a preferred format on macOS, and QuickTime, VLC, together with other player apps should work with MOV video files taken from iPhone, GoPro, cameras, YouTube, etc. on Mac. If the .mov file cannot be played, your player won't open it or won't play its audio or video, the first thing you need to do is to check the source video file information. Scroll down to find out detailed troubleshooting guide.
1. Check If the MOV File Is Valid
QuickTime or other apps won't open and play the MOV video when the file is corrupted. In such case, QuickTime may also give "Error: the movie contains some invalid data (file name.MOV)". Check the size of the clip to see if it is ridiculously small. Right-click the file and select Get Info from the list. At the top of the Get Info panel, you'll see the file size. If the size is only in a few KB or the duration of the video is 0:00, the source video is the cause of the not playing error. If part of the MOV file is corrupted, use VideoProc to remove and repair the unplayable file. Follow our previous tutorial on how to cut a video to repair and get rid of corrupted slices.
2. Fix Codec Compatibility Issue
The MOV file won't play on Mac, showing error message like "VLC can't recognize the input's format". It indicates that the player doesn't support the format. MOV is a container format and the video can be encoded with any codec such as HEVC (H.265), H.264, MPEG-4 part 2, to name a few. Though the container format MOV is natively supported, it doesn't mean the codec the video uses is compatible. MediaInfo can help figure out the video and audio codec. To solve the playback compatibility issue, you have to install a codec pack or use VideoProc to process and transcode the MOV video. Here's how to do it.
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Step 1: Launch VideoProc, click the Video button and the Video window will appear. Click the Add Video icon at the top and select the source MOV file that refuses play on Mac. You can batch import and process all the MOV video files.
Step 2: Select a widely accepted format. After the video is loaded, you should see the Target Format section at the bottom, just choose a format as output. MP4 (H.264) is recommended.
Click the "+" icon to get more output formats options. The MOV video processing software offers preset profiles for iPhone, iPad, iMovie, Final Cut Pro, iTunes, Apple TV, etc.
Step 3: Click the RUN button to start processing and transcoding MOV video files. Now, your (4K UHD) MOV files should play on MacBook Air/Pro/iMac etc. with QuickTime, VLC, or any other player.
If the MOV clip doesn't play properly on macOS with desynchronized audio and image, learn how to enable VideoProc's Force A/V Sync feature to get rid of MOV video audio out of sync error.
3. Check Your Video Player
Update your video player to the latest version if you are using an old version, which properly fixes MOV videos not playing on Mac. When you receive the message "You need QuickTime Player (version) to open (file name). Would you like to install it now?", just perform a software update. If QuickTime failed to play MOV file on Mac, try using other video player apps, such as VLC media player, 5KPlayer, MPlayer.
Right-click the MOV file in the finder, select Open With, and there is a list of other installed apps that your Mac suggests to using to open the file. Also see what to do if iPhone HEVC video won't play on Mac.
4. Update macOS
It happens to some users that MOV clip recorded by iPhone refuses to play on Mac and the video uses HEVC codec. To view MOV videos encoded with HEVC with QuickTime or other players on Mac, you should update to macOS High Sierra or later. macOS Sierra or below doesn't work with HEVC codec. Alternatively, you can process and convert iPhone HEVC to H.264 with VideoProc to solve the playback compatibility issue without macOS update.
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.
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