How to Play MKV Files on Mac: A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to the world of Mac! Playing different video formats sometimes requires you to download additional software or codecs. MKV files, for instance, are not automatically supported in macOS. If you’ve ever encountered a problem playing MKV files on your Apple computer, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we will show you how to play MKV files on a Mac in 12 easy steps. Not only do you need to download the right software, but you also need to know the right settings for compatibility. These simple yet practical steps will help you enjoy your favorite video files flawlessly.


Step 1: Go to the VideoLAN website

The first step is to visit the official website of VideoLAN, the creator of VLC. VLC Media Player is a popular, free, and open-source multimedia player that can play numerous audio and video formats, including the MKV file format. Visit to download the latest version of VLC that is compatible with your Mac.

Step 2: Locate the downloaded file

Once you have downloaded the .dmg software file, locate it on your Mac. This usually can be found in your Downloads folder or on your desktop. Once you find it, double-click on the file to begin the installation process.

Step 3: Drag the VLC icon to the Applications folder

After double-clicking the downloaded .dmg file, a new window will open. Within that window, you will see the VLC icon with the Applications folder icon underneath. Simply click and drag the VLC icon over the Applications folder icon to begin the installation process. This will install the VLC player on your Mac.

Step 4: Open VLC Player

Now that you have installed VLC, open the VLC player from your Applications folder. You can also use the Spotlight Search feature by pressing Command + Space and typing “VLC.”

Step 5: Click “File” in the menu bar

Once you have opened VLC player, click on the “File” option in the menu bar at the top left-hand corner of your screen.

Step 6: Select “Open File”

Under the “File” option, select “Open File” from the drop-down menu. You can also use the keyboard shortcut “Command + O.”

Step 7: Locate the MKV File

Search for the MKV file you wish to play on your Mac. Once you find the file, select it, and click “Open.” The MKV file will now begin playing on your Mac using the VLC media player.

Step 8: Customize VLC Settings

By default, VLC is set to play videos with basic settings. However, you can customize the video and audio settings by clicking on the “VLC” option in the menu bar, then selecting “Preferences.” This will allow you to configure the player to meet your specific needs.

Step 9: Sync Audio and Video

Syncing audio and video can be a common issue when playing MKV files on a Mac. VLC has a feature that allows you to adjust the delay time in the Preferences menu under Audio, then select “Advanced settings.” Tweak the options until the audio and video match perfectly.

Step 10: Install Perian plugin

If you still have difficulty playing some MKV files, you can try to install the Perian plugin. This free software works as an extension to QuickTime, which improves compatibility to play AVI and MKV format files. Download the plugin at and follow the installation instructions.

Step 11: Use MPlayerX

If VLC and Perian did not work for some MKV files, try another media player called MPlayerX. It can play numerous video and audio formats, including MKV files. Download the application at and follow the installation instructions.

Step 12: Avoid Streaming MKV files

Streaming MKV files online can cause playback issues because of the buffering process. To avoid this problem, try to download the file before playing it on your Mac. Downloading the entire file ensures the smoothest playback experience possible.


Playing MKV files on a Mac may seem complicated at first, but with the right steps, it can be a breeze. The first step is to download and install VLC media player, which is free and open-source software. After installing it, locate the MKV file and click “Open” to begin playing the video. Additionally, there are some settings that can be customized such as adjusting the delay between audio and video. If VLC did not work, try installing Perian or MPlayerX. Streaming MKV online can lead to buffering and playback issues, so downloading the entire file is recommended.

Tips and Tricks

Tip 1: Check for updates

Make sure VLC is up to date to avoid compatibility issues with new operating systems or video codecs. Click on “VLC” in the menu bar and select “Check for Updates.”

Tip 2: Convert files to a compatible format

If you still have trouble playing MKV files, you may want to consider converting them to a more compatible format. Software like Handbrake or Any Video Converter can convert files with ease.

Tip 3: Install additional codecs

Some video formats require specific codecs to play correctly. Installing additional software like Xvid or DivX can improve video compatibility.

Tip 4: Use a hardware acceleration

If you plan to watch high-definition videos, use a hardware acceleration feature. This will allow your Mac to use the graphics processor, leading to smoother playback on your Mac.

Tip 5: Close other applications

Running other applications on your Mac while playing videos can affect the video playback. Close other applications before playing the video file to ensure optimal performance.

Tip 6: Use a wired connection

Streaming MKV files online requires a stable and strong internet connection. Switching to a wired connection instead of a Wi-Fi connection will help avoid buffering problems.

Tip 7: Use a higher screen resolution

Using a higher screen resolution can lead to a better visual experience while watching high-quality videos. Adjust the screen resolution in your Mac’s System Preferences.

Tip 8: Use external hardware

If you plan to play 4K or high-definition videos, consider using an external HDD or SSD. This will ensure smooth playback without relying solely on your Mac’s internal storage.

Tip 9: Use quick shortcuts

Remember to use the VLC shortcuts for repetitive tasks to save time, such as adjusting playback speed, audio balance, or subtitle settings.

Tip 10: Create a playlist

Bundling your MKV files into a playlist will allow you to quickly switch between videos without going through the entire process of opening and playing each file.

Advantages and Disadvantages: How to Play MKV Files on Mac

Playing MKV files on a Mac can be a challenging task, especially if you are not accustomed to the different codecs and software required to play these video files. However, there are advantages and disadvantages in playing MKV files on Mac.


  1. High-Quality Resolution: MKV files offer high-quality resolution, and Mac users can enjoy the exceptional video quality provided by these files.
  2. Versatility: MKV files are highly versatile, and they can hold different types of video and audio formats in the same file. This means that Mac users can play multiple files in a single format.
  3. Compression: MKV files use compression to reduce the size of the video file without losing the quality of the video. Thus, it is an excellent file format for users that want to store a considerable amount of videos on their Mac without sacrificing quality.
  4. Compatibility: With the right software and codecs, MKV files can be played on almost any platform or device.
  5. No File Size Limitations: MKV files allow for large video files, which means that users can enjoy video files of any length without worrying about size limitations.
  6. Free Software: There are several free software available for Mac users to play MKV files, including VLC, Elmedia Player, and MPlayerX.
  7. Subtitle Support: MKV files support subtitles, making it an ideal format for foreign-language movies that come with subtitles.
  8. Multilingual Audio Tracks: MKV files can include multiple audio tracks, which is an advantage for users that speak different languages or want to enjoy the video in different languages.
  9. Seek To Time: MKV files offer a handy seek to time function that allows users to jump to specific points in the video.
  10. Security: MKV files do not carry any security threats, and users can download and play these files without worrying about any potential virus or malware infections.


  1. Limited Hardware Support: Older Mac devices may not support MKV files, and users may require a more powerful machine to play these files smoothly.
  2. Additional Codecs and Software: Users may have to download additional codecs and software to play MKV files properly, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.
  3. Compatibility: Although MKV files are compatible, not all media players support this format, which can constrain users’ options when it comes to playback.
  4. Complex Settings: The vast range of settings, options, codecs, and software required to fully enjoy MKV files can be overwhelming and confusing for some users.
  5. File Size: Because of higher quality resolutions, the resulting file sizes can be comparatively large, especially with 4K and Ultra HD formats, which can impact the device’s storage capacity.
  6. Performance Issues: MKV files may slow down older Mac machines or those with limited processing power. Users may have to reduce settings or use lower quality resolutions to enjoy a smooth playback experience.
  7. Video Quality Issues: MKV files may not always play smoothly, and users may experience lag or glitches that affect the video’s quality.
  8. Multiple Audio Tracks: Besides an advantage, having multiple audio tracks can make it difficult for users to choose the right track and can be frustrating when trying to switch between them.
  9. Requires Good Audio and Video Output Devices: Playing MKV files may require a good audio system, especially since the file format offers high-quality video resolution.
  10. Limited Care by Media Player Developers: MKV files may receive limited care by media player developers as it might not be a widely used file format.


1. What is an MKV file?

MKV is a file format that is capable of holding multiple audio, video and subtitle tracks in a single file.

2. Can QuickTime play MKV files?

No, QuickTime does not support MKV files. You will need to use a third-party app to play MKV files on your Mac.

3. What is the best app to play MKV files on Mac?

VLC Media Player is widely regarded as the best app for playing MKV files on Mac. It’s free, easy to use and comes with all the necessary codecs built-in.

4. Is VLC Media Player safe to download?

Yes, VLC Media Player is a reputable app that is safe to download from its official website.

5. What codecs does VLC Media Player support?

VLC Media Player supports a wide range of codecs, including H.264, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, VP6, VP8, Theora, and many others.

6. Can I customize the subtitles in VLC Media Player?

Yes, you can customize the font, size, color and positioning of subtitles in VLC Media Player.

7. How do I change the audio track in VLC Media Player?

You can change the audio track by going to the Audio menu and selecting the desired track.

8. Can I convert MKV files to a different format?

Yes, there are many apps available that can convert MKV files to different formats, such as Handbrake and Any Video Converter.

9. How do I open an MKV file in VLC Media Player?

You can open an MKV file in VLC Media Player by clicking on the File menu and selecting Open File. Then, navigate to the location of the MKV file and select it.

10. Can I watch a 3D MKV movie on Mac with VLC Media Player?

Yes, you can watch a 3D MKV movie on Mac with VLC Media Player by enabling the Side by Side, Top Bottom or Anaglyph 3D modes in the Video menu.

11. Why is my MKV file not playing smoothly in VLC Media Player?

There are several reasons why an MKV file may not be playing smoothly in VLC Media Player, such as insufficient hardware resources or corrupted file. Try closing other programs or converting the file to a different format.

12. What are the system requirements for VLC Media Player?

VLC Media Player requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later and at least 64 MB of free RAM.

13. Where can I download VLC Media Player?

You can download VLC Media Player for free from its official website:


In conclusion, playing MKV files on your Mac can be quite easy if you have the right tools. The first thing you need to do is to get a reliable media player with the capability of playing MKV files. Some popular media players like VLC and MPlayerX are compatible with MKV files, and you can easily download them from their official websites.

If you want to play MKV files with better video quality on your Mac, you may consider investing in some professional media players like Elmedia Player, 5KPlayer, and Movavi Media Player. These media players come with advanced features such as 4K and HD video playback, audio and subtitle synchronization, and many others.

Another thing you can do to enhance your video playback experience is to upgrade your Mac’s hardware. If you have an old Mac with limited RAM, CPU, or GPU resources, you may experience lags, buffering, or jerky video playback. So, getting a Mac with better hardware specifications can significantly improve your video playback performance.


Thank you for reading this article on how to play MKV files on Mac. We hope that you have found this guide helpful and informative. Remember to always use a reliable media player and keep your Mac’s hardware up-to-date to enjoy a seamless video playback experience. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment below.

See you in the next article!