Convert MKV to M4V for Free with Subler

Mar 23, 2012 - 25 Comments

MKV to M4V

If you have MKV movie files you’ve probably noticed they can’t be played on an iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, or a variety of other players. Not to worry though, because MKV video can be easily converted to the compatible M4V format using a free tool called Subler. If you want to get technical, this isn’t actually converting the video because MKV files are packages, basically Subler just repackages the MKV into an M4V, which can then be played in iOS and elsewhere. Anyway, it’s easy to use and very fast, we’ll walk you through the entire process.

Converting MKV Video to M4V with Subler

Subler relies on Perian to work properly, if you don’t have Perian yet be sure to download that before beginning.

  1. Download and install Perian (QuickTime component)
  2. Download and unzip Subler (get the latest beta)
  3. Drag the MKV into Subler that you wish to turn into an M4V
  4. Converting an MKV movie to M4V video with Subler

  5. Optionally, add metadata as appropriate
  6. Hit Command+S to save the M4V file and select a destination
  7. Save MKV as M4V

You’ll see a “Saving” progress but Subler works very quickly, you shouldn’t have to wait long for the repackage regardless of the origin MKV video size. The resulting M4V video can now be synced through iTunes to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, played directly on an Apple TV, or watched on any other device or app that supports M4V.

On a side note, converting MKV to M4V isn’t necessary if you want to watch the movie directly on your computer, in that case, check out a handful of free MKV video players for Mac. If you need to convert other video types to iOS compatible format, Handbrake works great for that.

Thanks to Anthony and others who recommended Subler in the comments.


Related articles:

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


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. […] For MKV conversion, considering using the free tool called Subler, which relies on Perian to function but it will take an MKV file and turn it into an iOS compatible m4v rather quickly, you can read more about using Subler to convert MKV here. […]

  2. Steve K says:

    Another option is MP4 Tools (formerly a part of MKV tools). It remuxes MKV files and can convert audio if you happen to have one that’s DTS. It can also do the conversion from other formats to M4V as well. I still run the file through subler when I’m done to populate the metadata.

  3. baila says:

    Getting an error “The Audio Converter can not be initialized.” Hmm… Installed Perian, using Mountain Lion, what’s going wrong…?

  4. mza says:

    same here. with ML it doesnt work :/

    i cant play the m4v file with QT. whats wrong there?

  5. maul0r says:

    Thanks for the article – however!

    Mountain Lion seems to have a problem with subler – is anyone aware of how to fix it, or what alternative to use?

    I need support for multiple Audio Tracks (Languages) and possibly subtitles but I am getting sick and tired of using Handbrake!

  6. Mary F says:

    I follow the directions exactly, but instead of m4v, it formats to mp4. I’m trying to load the video onto iMovie, so the mp4 is of no help. I need it to be m4v. What am I doing wrong?

  7. parker says:

    When I open Subler (menu bar tells me it’s open) I don’t get a window to drag the mkv file into. What am I doing wrong?

  8. kline1 says:

    Im having problems with files over 4gb, they seem to finish but when i try to play movie it says The movie’s file format isn’t recognized. can anybody help?

  9. adam says:

    This depend if sound is arc, mp4 do not support AC3 or DTS, what require ffmpeg or othersā€¦ Subler exist in Command line tool to be automated ;)

  10. Ron says:

    Thanks so much for this article!

    I have been looking for a free MKV conversion tool for a very long time!

    I’m really glad these developers are releasing this tool for free… kudos!

  11. Floris says:

    AVplayerHD plays .mkv back just fine – why convert things yet again?

    • Ron says:

      Because .mkv files don’t play on a lot of devices including the AppleTV.

      Do you know how to play .mkv files on the AppleTV without converting?

      • Tricky Business says:

        @Ron, the day before yesterday i bought my first Apple TV. Yesterday i bought the Mac app “Beamer” ( The App connects with my Apple TV and i can ‘drop’ almost any movie file type into/onto the app which will stream the movie to my Apple TV

  12. Suad says:

    Does not work with mountain lion DP2. error encoding audio…

  13. Irene Kisala says:

    be careful with Subler if you are converting a file with subtitles. it will do strange things to the text spacing and sometimes remove whole lines. i didn’t realise Subler relies on Perian. could be this has something to do with that.

  14. Michael says:

    Been using HandBrake to convert movies from mkv to m4v. Will now try Subler. Should be quicker.

  15. Charsing says:

    Remuxing, converting, same difference. Great tip if this means I don’t need to download any funky apps on the iPad or jailbreak the Apple TV, so thank you.

  16. James says:

    Subler appears to be a GUI wrapper around the ffmpeg library and the mp4v2 library. I would rather have a script that runs as a folder action. Any MKV’s in the folder will be quickly converted to mp4 containers. I see mention of a SublerCLI in the source. Command Line Interface? Now that would be nice. Maybe I could attach an AppleScript as a folder action to feed filenames into SublerCLI and maybe another to put them into iTunes and sync to my iPad.

    Looks like I will be busy this weekend after all.

    • Carl says:

      Any luck with folder action? Care to share?
      I’ve read that SublerCLI is in the “Batch Rip Actions for Automator 1.0.9” but am not sure if used just for tagging or for all purpose mkv to mp4 remuxing.

  17. Dave says:

    Subler isn’t encoding the file, it’s remuxing it, changing it from a mkv container to a mp4 container so there is no video conversion or re-encoding. It’s keeping intact whatever the file was originally encoded with, likely h.264. Thats the beauty of this process. It also can write metadata to the mp4 which is nice for the native handling of video on the iPad.

  18. Peter says:

    Perian hasn’t been updated for almost a year now, so some newer encoding methods (namely 10 bit video) will produce a lot of video artefacts or produce no video output at all. If you’re going to be following this guide, try it in Quicktime first (which uses Perian to decode the video) and see if it looks OK first. If it does, then it should convert fine.

  19. Keith says:

    I bought the new iPad (new iOS user) and I am able to play 720p high profile MKV files no problem with GoodPlayer without conversion. Not sure about other iPad models.

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