QuickTime compatible and non-compatible formats

Part 1. What are QuickTime compatible formats?

QuickTime compatible formats are the media formats that are compatible with QuickTime player, one of the most used multimedia players in the world. These are the formats that you can play on QuickTime player without the need of converting them at first or using any decoders as such i.e., they play in your QuickTime player just the way they are.

Let us take a quick look at all the different media formats and codecs that the QuickTime player supports. The ones listed below are the formats and codecs that QuickTime can open and play in Mac OS X v10.6.x or later.

Media Type

File Formats

Codecs / Components


QuickTime Movie (.mov)
MPEG-4 (.mp4, .m4v)
MPEG-2 (OS X Lion or later)
avchd (OS X Mountain Lion or later)
AVI (Motion JPEG only)

MPEG-2 (OS X Lion or later)
MPEG-4 (Part 2)
Apple ProRes
Apple Pixlet
Component Video
DVC Pro 50
Motion JPEG
Photo JPEG
Sorenson Video 2
Sorenson Video 3


iTunes Audio (.m4a, .m4b, .m4p)
Core Audio (.caf)

AAC (MPEG-4 Audio)
Apple Lossless
AMR Narrowband
QDesign Music 2
Qualcomm PureVoice (QCELP)
IMA 4:1
MACE 3:1 (Mac OS X v10.6.x only)
MACE 6:1 (Mac OS X v10.6.x only)
ALaw 2:1
ULaw 2:1
24-Bit Integer
32-Bit Integer
32-Bit Floating Point
64-Bit Floating Point

The formats listed above are the ones that the QuickTime player accepts without giving any error message or the need for conversion. This means that if you want to play a video or audio format that is not listed as above, you will have to use an alternative player that supports the file or you will need to convert the format of that file to one of the formats listed above.

Since QuickTime player does not support a lot of formats, users normally have an alternative player on their computer at all times that supports more formats than the QuickTime player. However, there are decoders that can be installed on the QuickTime player that will enable playing of the non-compatible formats as well. Every decoder has a list of formats it supports so you should know the formats a decoder accepts before downloading it of course.

To learn more about it, refer to the official support like from Apple by clicking here.

Part 2. What are QuickTime non-compatible formats?

As the name suggests, these are the media formats that are not compatible with the QuickTime player. No matter how hard you try to play any of the non-compatible formats with QuickTime, it won’t work and you will get an error message such as in the picture given below.

To play any of the QuickTime non-compatible formats, you need to use a media player that supports them. There are only a few media players out there that support unlimited number of formats, for example, the VLC Media Player. However, if you prefer using QuickTime only instead, you can always convert the non-compatible formats using a video converter such as the Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate in to a suitable QuickTime compatible format at first.

Top 5 QuickTime non-compatible formats

QuickTime supports only a few formats and here are the top 5 formats that the QuickTime player does not support.

1. WMV

Name: Windows Media Video (WMV)
Developer: Microsoft
Short description: This video file is on the basis of the Microsoft Advanced Systems Format (ASF) container format and compressed with Windows Media compression; similar to an .ASF file and includes video encoded with one of Microsoft's Windows Media Video (WMV) proprietary codec. It is a file type that may include video among several video compression formats. The first video compression format found in the file, also called WMV, was initially made for Internet streaming programs.

The most popular supported software: Microsoft Windows Video, Microsoft Windows Media Player.

2. VOB

Name: DVD Video Object File (VOB)
Developer: DVD Forum
Short description: This is the container format in DVD Video media. VOB can include digital video, DVD menus, subtitles, digital sound and navigation contents multiplexed into a stream form. Files in VOB format could be encrypted. It includes most of information saved on the disk including video, subtitles, and sounds; typically formatted as an MPEG 2 system stream and may be opened by different video playback software.

The most popular supported software: VLC Media Player, GOM Player, Microsoft Windows Media Player.

3. FLV

Name: Flash Video File (FLV)
Developer: Adobe Systems
Short description: This is a container file format used to deliver video on the Internet. Flash Video content can also be embedded within SWF files. There are just two distinct video file formats called Flash Video: F4V and FLV. Flash-compatible video file exported by the Flash Video Exporter plug in or other application with FLV file support, consists of a brief header, interleaved sound, video, and metadata packets; sound and video information is stored in the same format utilized by regular Flash files.

The most popular supported software: VLC Media Player, KMPlayer, Media Player Classic.

4. MKV

Name: Matroska Video File (MKV)
Developer: www.matroska.org
Short description: MKV files are in fact multimedia container formats. This basically means it is a container that will integrate video, sound, and subtitles into one file even though they make use of another form of encoding. This video format is becoming popular in the anime fan-subbing community since it supports multiple audio and subtitle tracks in the exact same file where users create subtitles.

The most popular supported software: VLC Media Player, KMPlayer, Media Player Classic.

5. SWF

Name: Shockwave Flash Movie (SWF)
Developer: FuturaWave Software but later taken over by Adobe Systems
Short description: SWF stands for Small Web Format. SWF files can include vector and video based audio and animations and therefore are intended for efficient delivery on the internet. They're also a favorite method of delivering browser- games. They're not designed to be edited because SWF files include compiled Action Script and compressed media.

The most popular supported software: Adobe Flash Player, GOM Player, Media Player Classic.

Part 3.What is QuickTime extension?

QuickTime extension is the file extension owned by the QuickTime itself. The QuickTime file extension is .mov and is also known as the QuickTime movie files. It should not be confused with movie file formats such as the MP4, MPEG, MP3 etc because they are QuickTime compatible formats and not extensions. It is a special extension for QuickTime and that is why if it gets corrupt, you will get an error when trying to play it.

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