How to Enable the Video & Audio Encoder Tools in Mac OS X

Jan 16, 2012 - 17 Comments

An excellent new feature in Mac OS X introduced in modern versions of the OS are several built-in media encoding abilities, allowing anyone to encode and convert video and audio files to other formats right on the desktop or from any Finder window. Having covered a tip on how to convert video to audio using these media encoders, we discovered the feature isn’t enabled by default for all Mac users. If your Mac is missing the “Encode” menu options, or you want to adjust them, toggling the menu encoder is very simple.

Media Encoding in Mac OS X Lion

Note: you will need OS X version 10.7 or later to find this feature on the Mac, Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, etc all include this option, but earlier versions of OS X do not.

Enable Video & Audio Encoding Tools in Mac OS X

  • Launch System Preferences from the  Apple menu
  • Click on “Keyboard” and then click on the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab
  • Select “Services” from the left, and scroll on the right for “Encode Selected Audio Files” and “Encode Selected Video Files”
  • Enable Encoding in OS X

  • Check the box next to both of those options and close out of System Preferences
  • Confirm encoding tools are now enabled by right-clicking on an audio or video file and looking for the Encode option

Now that the OS X media encoder is enabled, you can right-click on media files to convert one video file format to another, convert 1080p video to lower resolutions like 720p and 480p, convert video to audio tracks, and audio to m4a which can then be turned into ringtones and text tones.

The resulting pop-up encoder window looks like this:

Convert audio to video in Mac OS X

Conversion is surprisingly quick and produces high quality media files, the precise resolution is dependent on which output option chosen. Lengthy 1080p video files can take quite a while to convert, so give the movie time to encode to the new format or resolution.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Kicker13 says:

    I think it is only hidden on upgrades from Snow Leopard

  2. John says:

    My settings were already like that in Lion also. Thanks to this while I was in the dialog box I checked out the other options. In the Mission Control settings I found the way to customize swithcing between desktops similar to Spaces. Very cool.

  3. Mark says:

    I need to convert *.mkv to DVD.
    Any ideas?

  4. Robin says:

    Neither myself or my wife have the Encode options to check in the Keyboard shortcuts/services menu :(

  5. me says:

    How to add encoders ?
    There isn’t mp3 !

  6. Lana says:

    Is there anyway to convert FLAC using this no?

  7. […] tools are free and bundled in Mac OS X since Lion. They should be available by default, but you can enable the media encoders if they aren’t visible in contextual menus for […]

  8. […] on the iPad, take the time to convert the mkv video to m4v format. It’s easy to do and the conversion function is built directly into OS X, or you can check out our easy guide on converting movies to an iPad compatible format by using the […]

  9. […] lot of optional features can be enabled this way, from tweaks to file system and management, to the excellent video conversion tools that are bundled in OS […]

  10. Martin says:

    Thx a lot! That made my day. I was looking precisely for this option.

  11. Nathan Sady says:

    The conversion option missing from ‘keyboard shortcuts’ on a recent iMac is – Encode Selected Audio Files. There are misspellings also – Open man page and Search man Page, instead of ‘Main Page’.

  12. JulesD says:

    when I try to encode an AVI to 720, the video works great, but audio always cuts off after about 10 minutes. The footage I’m converting is around 1.5 hours (Church services) if that makes any difference.
    Any ideas here?

  13. Lisen says:

    Thank you so much! I can again edit my videos using the old QuickTime Pro player.

    imac -2011 – QS X 10.10

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