Play mkv (Matroska) Files On Your Mac


In the digital age that we live in there are hundreds of file formats, one that is getting particularly prominent is the mkv or Matroska, file format. A digital video container that is usually used for storing high definition videos. The Matroska format is a container format where the file can contain numerous video and audio files all in one container, Matroska is derived from the Russian term for a nesting doll. Its a very useful format and with it being used in HD videos it is becoming more common. The problem is that your Mac will not naively play them and you need a suitable plugin/codec to get them to play. This post is going to highlight some of the best ways to mkv files and get you on your way.

There are many ways to play video files on your Mac. I think I have covered the more common ways to play these videos. However if you have a question or comment that you would like to add, please leave a comment below.


We start with VLC the Swiss army knife of video play back. VLC can play pretty much every multimedia file you can think of. I havent come across a video or audio file I dont think it can play. If you want a general app for video play back I recommend VLC as it will do the job pretty much every time. You can also use it for playing back other files. After a while you will find that it will take over apps such as Quicktime as you will be playing everything with it. The only problem with VLC I have found is that it can be a little bit sluggish starting and getting your video playing. However its probably my old Mac.


If you want to keep using Quicktime there is a plugin, Perian, incidentally a swiss army knife logo which sort of ruins my VLC analogy. Anyway, if you like the feel and look of Quicktime and you want to extend its functionality Perian is the way to go. I have found it runs slightly faster in loading videos than VLC in my quick tests so it may be a suitable choice. It is only a Mac program (unlike VLC which is cross platform) so it may not have the development support behind it like VLC, so new file formats or updates my not be as frequent. Moreover since it is a plugin, Apple may issue a Quicktime update and break the plugin. Having said that I do like Perian and I enjoy using it along with Quicktime slightly more than VLC (the interface is so much nicer).


If you want something slightly different there is Mplayer, which has been mentioned in passing a couple of posts ago. Its an open source program like VLC and if you have problems with the first two apps it may be a choice. Ive included for completion and may be worth a run if VLC and Perian dont work. You can use MPlayer for more things than just playing video, it does have a lot of background code and libraries available to you to help convert and process video and audio files. If this is something you are interested in MPlayer may offer a lot more than just video playback.

DivX Player

The final the DivX player from DivX. If you want the power of the DivX brand and software behind your apps its well worth a look into. Like MPLayer ive included it out of completion. Unless you need to use the DivX suite of apps the first two apps are far better and I would recommend them over DivX player.

I dont think I have missed any other mkv player for you Mac. There is plenty of choice and methods to play your files. I prefer the VLC method, however I do like the Perian Quicktime plugin route. If you have any questions or comments please leave a message using the form below this post.

To finish, if you have a TV and its not connect to your Mac but still want to play mkv files there are plenty of small mkv boxes for your TV. These take the mkv files and allow you to play them on your TV, most new Blu-Ray and TV setups do allow you to play mkv files however if you have an old player like myself something like that allows you to take your mkv into the living room and away from your Mac. Pretty cool.

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