How to Play MKV Files on Mac for Free Easily (2024 Update)

Jose Henline
January 05, 2023 Preview 10.5K Preview 0
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MKV (Matroska) is a container format that can store multiple codecs and streams of video, audio, chapters, etc. Thus, an MKV file may show the audio tracks and subtitles of the movie in several languages. It also can be encoded with x264 or x265 to play high-quality videos. But such a good format can't be opened by QuickTime - the default video player on Apple devices. The purpose of this article is to discuss how to play MKV files on Mac for free with 3 methods.

Directly Use a Free MKV Player for Mac

A decent MKV video player for Mac should not only let you enjoy high definition display but control the whole movie playing with ease. It would be better if there were other interesting functions, such as taking video snapshots and viewing video attribute information. Below are 4 industry-leading MKV players for Mac.

#1 Cisdem Video Player

Cisdem Video Player is the best MKV player for Mac, delivering crisp and exceptional quality. You can use it to watch up to 8k videos. Plus, it supports almost all media file formats like MKV, MP4, SWF, M4V, FLAC, etc., as well as video codecs like HEVC (h.265), h.264, and VP9, etc. You don't need to install external codec packs.

With its minimalistic and customizable interface, you can quickly add all MKV files to the playlist and play them one by one.

Free Download   Free Download

Attractive features:

  • Play MKV files on Mac in the loop, order, random
  • Auto-create a playlist for multiple MKV videos
  • Support all popular video & audio formats (more than 200), including MKV
  • Open large, small, HD, 4k, 5k, and 8k videos without jerks & tearing
  • Flexible media playback control to adjust volume levels/ playback progress, rotate/flip video, and more
  • Import caption in .ass, .srt format
  • Smartly restore position in the last played file
  • Enable "Incognito" mode to stop remembering the playback position
  • Convert MKV to MP4, MOV, Apple, and Android devices (in-app purchase)
  • No buffering or crashes, work smoothly and fast

How to play MKV on Mac with Cisdem Video Player:

Step 1. Download the best MKV player for Mac and double-click to launch it.

Free Download

Step 2. Drag-n-drop a single MKV or a folder with a lot of MKV movies from your computer to the primary interface.

add mkv

Step 3. Click to view the current MKV file.

play mkv on mac cisdem

Note: You can also click on the right side to show the playlist, and then switch between videos you added.

Tip 1. Play MKV with multiple tracks and subtitles

Click to choose the audio track and click to choose the subtitles you like.

In addition, the app allows manual loading of external subtitles or automatic synchronization of subtitle files with the same name in the same folder.

Tip 2. Separate playback window, controller, and player list

Go to the menu bar, hit “Window” > “Separate Mode”.

go to separate

The 3 parts of Cisdem MKV video player will be separated at once. When there are multiple monitors, this feature ensures that the controller and player list are operated separately without affecting the video watching.

separate interface to watch mkv on mac

#2 VLC Media Player

VLC Media player, called simply "VLC", is a full-fledged MKV player for Mac and other operating systems like Windows, Linux. It's packed with a huge set of advanced functions and extended support to the most popular formats. Apart from video and audio, VLC plays everything, including files, discs, webcams, devices, and streams.

Once you open an MKV file, you'll be able to play and stop the video, step forward/backward, set the volume and stereo mode, add subtitles with various size and color, even do some video effects, etc.

How to play MKV files on Mac via VLC:

  1. Open VLC Media Player, you will see a simple interface.
  2. Drag and drop your local MKV video to it. Wait a few seconds and your MKV movie will play on full screen.

vlc mkv player for mac

#3 NicePlayer

NicePlayer is one of the oldest MKV video players in the market. It has withstood the test of time and can still open video files for free.

There are a series of custom tools on the menu bar for you to use. For example, "File" is used to load a single movie or multiple movies; "Presentation" is to set the screen size. Also, you are able to tweak parameter settings like aspect ratio and time control.

But this MKV player for Mac hasn’t been updated since 2008. And it can't play all the audio files.

How to watch MKV on Mac using NicePlayer:

  1. Download and install NicePlayer.
  2. Select your favorite MKV movie or playlist, and right-click to show the menu list.
  3. Choose “Open With” > NicePlayer.
  4. Click the “play” button.

niceplayer mkv player mac

You can double-click on a window to toggle between full screen and normal window size.

#4 Movist

Movist is an MKV movie player based on QuickTime and FFmpeg. It comes with an elegant user interface and extensive functionality. With improved performance and the adoption of hardware-accelerated decoding, you can watch multiple 4k MKV videos in a short time without increasing CPU usage. Its biggest benefit is the ability to read subtitles aloud and control the speed of speech.

However, Movist doesn't support more-obscure settings or its audio/video tweaking options as VLC and Cisdem Video Player. And it only offers a free trial to play MKV on Mac. After the trial period ends, you need to pay $4.99 for the basic version or $7.99 for the pro version.

How to open MKV on Mac with Movist:

  1. Drag-n-drop your favorite MKV video file to the app, or click "File" at the top menu bar to open local MKV files and load.
  2. Click the playing button, and start to watch.

movist mkv player mac

Install Component Package for QuickTime

QuickTime is a flagship media player of Apple, Inc, which allows Mac uses to create, play, edit, and share many media formats.

But to make it to be an MKV player for Mac, you have to install a codec tool named Perian. It’s an open-source component capable of playing several popular video formats not supported natively by QuickTime, like MKV, FLV, DivX and WMA, etc.


  1. Make sure you have removed outdated QT components, such as FFusion, Xvid Delegate, 3ivX, DivX, AC3 Codec, XviD, msmpeg4v1, msmpeg4v2, AviImporter, MatroskaQT, etc. They will keep QuickTime from using Perian to play your MKV videos correctly.
  2. Perian stopped updating and doesn’t work with QuickTime 10 or higher. But it’s still available on QuickTime 7.6.6 and older Mac systems.

Steps to play MKV files on Mac using QuickTime:

  1. Visit Download and install Perian to your Mac.
  2. Double-click the icon of QuickTime Player to initiate it.
  3. At the top of the window, click “File” to load an MKV video.
  4. Click the play button at the bottom line of the screen.

quicktime play mkv files on mac

To view a video in full screen, click the full-screen button or choose View > Enter Full Screen.

Convert MKV to QuickTime-Supported Formats like MP4

If you don't want to install an additional MKV player for Mac or plugin, you can convert MKV to QuickTime-compatible formats through an online converter., established for 10+ years, has gradually optimized its interface to make it very uncluttered and fast. You can convert MKV to 3GP, MP4, MPG, MOV, WebM, 3G2, and OGV.

It's known for multifunctional conversion. Besides converting MKV to a playable format on Mac, it's also able to convert image, document, audio, eBook, etc. files.

Steps to convert MKV file to QuickTime via online converter and watch it on Mac:

  1. Go to the website -
  2. Choose a format that QuickTime supports, say, “Convert to MP4”.
  3. Upload your MKV video.
  4. Optionally, change video settings.
  5. Hit “START” to convert MKV to QuickTime.
  6. Download the converted file and open it in QuickTime.

convert mkv

However, the online MKV converter merely provides few QuickTime formats, and it’s not good at dealing with large MKV videos. To make MKV conversion more effective and safer, you still need a 3rd-party app. Both Cisdem Video Player and VLC can convert MKV to other formats.

Final Words

We shared 3 methods to play MKV files on Mac and method 1 is highly recommended. In terms of the best MKV player for Mac, you may prefer VLC. VLC has long held the crown of best free media player, but now, there is some new rising star increasingly taking over VLC, like Cisdem Video Player which we use it strictly for video playing because it has options most others have. Cisdem Video Player is much quicker to load MKV movies. It offers clear moving pictures, letting you watch 4k/5k/8k movies without trouble.

Jose Henline
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Jose specializes in reviews, how-to guides, top lists, etc. on PDF, data recovery and multi-media. On his spare time, he likes to travel or challenge some extreme sports.

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