The Best Video Players for Mac
Ever wondered what the best video player for Mac is? While there are droves of app options available to watch movies and video on Mac, rather than going on a wild video player fishing expedition we’ve helped to narrow down some of the best free video player choices for you.
The best video player apps support a wide variety of movie file formats, are easy to use, support 1080p and 4k video, are full-featured, are free to download and don’t arrive with junkware, and are lightweight. We’ll review some of the best options available for Mac OS and Mac OS X users.
A quick note: most Mac users will find that QuickTime and Photos app are perfectly sufficient to watching their own personal videos on the Mac, the options here are aimed at Mac users who are looking for a third party video player app with support for many video formats often found on the web, downloaded, or ripped from their personal collections.
The 4 Best Video Players for Mac
We’ve chosen four of what we consider to be the best video players for Mac, they’re all free too as rarely will you find a paid video player app to be necessary for most users needs. Let’s check them out:
1 – VLC
VLC is the longtime king of video players, and it’s easily one of the best video players on the Mac. VLC can play virtually any video file or movie format imaginable, usually with no extra codecs required even for some of the more oddball video formats. Of course all the primary video formats are supported too, so whether you’re watching MKV, M4V, AVI, MPEG, MOV, WMV, or any of the other commonly encountered formats, the video will play flawlessly without an issue. VLC is also cross platform compatible, so you can use VLC on a Mac, Windows PC, Linux, iOS, Android, and keep the experience consistent. There’s even theme/skin support, if you’re into that sort of thing.
VLC remains my personal preference for the best video player for Mac for all-purpose use, it’s fast, no-nonsense, free, easy to use, supports subtitles, adjustable playback speeds, and there is a hoard of other advanced features that you’ll likely never even need to use.
2 – MPV
MPV is another great video player for Mac that has gained popularity recently, it’s a fork of mplayer and has a wide range of support for nearly any video format you’d throw at it. MPV also has GPU video decoding support and has a variety of OpenGL video output options which can be desirable to many advanced users. Overall it’s quite similar to VLC in many ways, so whether or not you use VLC or MPV is mostly a matter of personal preference.
Like VLC and Plex, MPV is also compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
3 – Plex
Plex is much more than just a video player, it is a full fledged media server app which can play just about every imaginable video format or movie thrown its way. In addition to playing videos and managing your movie library, Plex can also manage your music, TV shows, photos, library streaming, has parental control support in the premium version, file sharing support, and many other features that make the app function similar to how an Apple TV or media center works, except it’s just an app that runs on your Mac (or Windows PC too).
Plex is an excellent choice as a video player, particularly if you want to stream video from one device to another in your house, or you plan on connecting a Mac to a TV for use as a media center and watching movies on a bigger screen.
I personally prefer Plex as a media center app, so if you’re looking for something to play video and serve that purpose it’s a great way to go.
4 – QuickTime Player
QuickTime Player?? Yes, really! QuickTime comes free and bundled on every Mac by default as the systems movie player. It may be under appreciated, but QuickTime is a powerful video player app and includes support for many popular video and movie file formats without needing to add any plugins or third party tools, it just works with most videos.
As mentioned above, QuickTime is a perfectly adequate solution for watching your own personal videos recorded on a Mac from the webcam, from 4k recorded on an iPhone, movies captured on iPad, shared with friends or family, and most video and movies that Mac users will encounter. Where QuickTime may become less adequate is if you’re trying to watch a video you downloaded from the web and it’s in a more obscure movie format, and perhaps you want to include subtitles for another language.
The lesson here is don’t write off QuickTime Player, it’s an excellent video player app for most Mac users needs.
Playing Web Video? Try Safari or Chrome
Many of you are probably wondering about the best video player app to watch web video with, and this too is a matter of personal preference. For playing HTML5 video, or web video services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, or HBO, both Safari and Chrome are excellent, whereas for anything requiring Flash then using Chrome with the built-in sandboxed Flash plugin is highly recommended so you don’t have to install Flash on the Mac directly.
One of the major perks for watching web video with Safari is using Picture-in-Picture mode to play a video in a little hovering window, whether it’s found on YouTube, Vimeo, or your favorite documentary site like PBS NOVA or Frontline. Chrome currently does not support PiP mode directly, but with a plugin you can use that feature for playing web video as well.
Do you have a great video player app you recommend for Mac? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!