VLC is a well-known cross-platform media player developed by VideoLAN. It is a simple yet powerful program and is perhaps the best replacement for the default video player on your Mac. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced Apple user, you need to try VLC as it supports all major formats from MP4 to WMV. The player comes with an easy-to-use interface that can be customized with just a few clicks.
5KPlayer is an all-around great media player for Mac that has a few tricks up its sleeve. Apart from supporting a wide range of formats, the player also works as a video downloader and converter. But the most impressive thing about 5KPlayer is the DLNA and AirPlay support which allows users to stream video across their devices.
Plex is much more than just a typical video player. In fact, it’s a media streaming server app. Plex consists of two parts: the media server itself and media player that can handle almost all formats and Ultra HD resolution. Intuitive UI and comprehensive platform support make it an excellent option for creating and managing a personal media library.
Want to find out more about the winners? We also tested other video players for macOS and chose some alternatives you might find useful. So keep on reading!
Disclaimer: The opinions in this review are solely our own, and reflect use and research by the reviewer.
Do You Need A Different Media Player
If you’re searching for the best video player for Mac, you’ve probably had problems playing video via Quicktime Player. You’re definitely not alone here.
Although QuickTime is a native Apple application for Mac, it’s a bit slow to launch and supports limited video formats. Many Mac users experience trouble playing MP4 or MKV files via QuickTime Player. As you can see from the screenshot below, so am I:
Although it has a smooth UI, QuickTime is poor in terms of compatibility. Using a third-party player is a way out of this situation. The apps reviewed in this article cope with a variety of formats including MP4, MKV, AVI, MOV, WMV, etc. They have extra features to create and manage playlists, customize your movie-watching experience, and mirror content on other devices that are above and beyond those supported by Quicktime.
Let’s see in detail what these apps have to offer!
How We Tested and Picked
To determine the winners, I used MacBook Air (2017) on macOS High Sierra and followed these criteria:
Supported Formats: As the Mac default player isn’t powerful enough to support some of the most wide-spread formats, this criteria was the most significant during our test.
Compatibility: The best video player for Mac should be compatible with macOS Mojave and support videos of the highest resolution (4K).
Feature set: When it comes to QuickTime alternatives, a great set of features (video/audio filters, subtitle synchronization, playback speed, customization, etc.) is what makes the best player stand out from the competitors.
User Interface and Experience: Having a wide range of features can create a learning curve, but a great video player should stay user-friendly and have an attractive and intuitive interface to create the best possible user experience.
Affordability: Most of the video players available for Mac are free, some of them provide extra features that require payment. In this case, an app must offer the best value for the money if you decide to purchase it.
Best Overall: VLC Media Player
When it comes to the best video players for Mac, VLC is the longtime king. This free, lightweight, open source cross-platform media player is powerful enough to cope with most video formats including MPEG, WMV, MP4, MKV, MOV, and AVI. The player can play almost everything on a single platform from DVDs, and audio CDs to streams and webcams. The video runs smoothly, without issues. No extra codecs are needed.
VLC has hardware decoding on most platforms. The player (version 3.0.6) runs on Mac OS X 10.7.5 (64-bit Intel-based Mac) up to Mac OS Mojave. Older devices (Mac OS X 10.0 — 10.6) are supported by previous releases. However, that support ended for these releases so they won’t receive any further updates.
In addition to extensive format support, the video player has a wide range of features such as adjustable playback speeds, subtitle synchronization, and audio/video filters. VLC gives users an opportunity to customize almost all aspects of the software. While its design isn’t the most attractive on the market, the player allows adding and creating skins, installing extensions, and changing keyboard shortcuts.
If you want to watch online videos outside the browser, VLC handles this task easily. It allows downloading content right to your computer. The program even has a built-in podcast manager so that you can add and listen to your favorite podcasts all in one place. VLC can also serve you as a converter.
Why is VLC one of the most popular video players so far? The answer is simple. This completely free program is easy-to-use, fast, and powerful. Besides, it has no annoying ads. VLC is not efficient when it comes to battery life as Quicktime, but overall it deserves to crown the top of our list of the best video players for Mac.
Another superb video player for Mac that can easily play almost all available formats is 5KPlayer. The program is a great mixture of free HD video and music player, media library, online downloader, and DLNA/AirPlay-enabled media streamer.
When it comes to formats, 5KPlayer supports 4K, 5K, and 1080p HD videos including MKV, WMV, MP4, and MTS. It can play almost any multimedia file such as music, video (UHD, 3D, HDR 360), CDs, Audio CDs, DVDs, and VCDs.
The player also handles streaming/mirroring video via DLNA/AirPlay without quality loss. With built-in AirPlay tech, 5KPlayer can render the whole screen of iPads and iPhones to computers as well as Mac to Apple TV in a blink. Also, there is a screen recording utility connected to the mirroring function that allows up to 4K UHD video recording.
Apart from being a feature-rich video player, 5KPlayer is a useful video downloader that supports more than 300+ online platforms including YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo, MTV, Facebook, Instagram, and CBS. With its help, you can easily download many videos free of charge.
5KPlayer offers subtitle synchronization supporting various formats such as *.ass, *.srt, *.ssa, and *.sub. Just drag and drop the subtitle file to the playback window and subtitles settings will update right away without restarting the program.
What I like the most about 5KPlayer is that it allows Mac users to create a personal multimedia library where they can sort out their favorite videos and manage Youtube playlists.
Its UI looks smooth and user-friendly. During testing, there were no glitches or unexpected errors–a good sign as the software doesn’t reduce computer’s productivity by a great measure. The video player is packed with features. On the other hand, it might be confusing for some beginners who just started exploring video players world.
Also Great: Plex Video Player
If you’re looking for something more complex than a simple video player, Plex is a top choice. It’s a full-fledged media server app that can scan and organize all media on your computer perfectly, managing your playlists alongside with online content and streaming music.
As a video player, Plex can cope with just about every possible video format and 4K resolution. There is no need to convert formats by yourself, as the program automatically transcodes them when required.
What’s more, it can stream videos from one device to another (Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, Android, TiVo, Android/iOS phones and tablets, etc.). With Plex, you can connect your Mac to a TV in a few clicks and watch your favorite movies on a bigger screen with no compromise in quality.
The Plex UI is eye candy for all Apple lovers. What I love the most is that the app adds cover art and descriptions to each video in your media library, making it look fantastic. Plex’s drawback is the tricky installation and setup process. Additionally, to get access to the Plex Media Server, every user must create a MyPlex account.
Even though Plex is free, users can purchase an upgraded version called PlexPass to get additional features such as parental controls and Live TV & DVR for $4.99 per month or $119.99 for lifetime access.
Another noteworthy video player for Mac is MPlayerX. Although it hasn’t been updated since 2016, MPlayerX is a very lightweight, free, and easy-to-use program which can handle most formats without extra plugins or codec packages. MPlayerX runs smoothly on any Mac with OS X 10.7 or later and a 64-bit Intel CPU.
Designed specifically for Apple users in mind, this player has a minimalistic interface and simple navigation. It can “dance on your fingers” allowing users to control the playback via a Mac touchpad with gestures. MPlayerX provides Apple Remote support and online streaming from YouTube, Vimeo, and other websites.
This program offers subtitle support including Hebrew, Arabic, and Eastern Asian languages. It can quickly detect and convert subtitle files automatically. The player also lets users change the subtitle size. MPlayerX provides full-screen mode and a batch of other helpful customization options. As for me, the most useful one is an ability to increase or decrease the speed of the playback.
Cisdem Video Player
If you’re looking for a lightweight player with a decent interface and easy navigation that can provide you with a perfect experience of watching HD videos, you might want to try out Cisdem Video Player. Many users consider it a great alternative to VLC and 5KPlayer. It runs well on macOS 10.10 or higher.
Cisdem Video Player plays more than 50 formats (MKV, WMV, AVI, FLV, etc.) on Mac with no additional codec packages needed. But an ability to cope with high-quality formats such as 4K, 5K, and Full HD 1080p is not the only advantage of this software.
The player can convert multimedia files in various formats for any device like iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and etc. Using Cisdem Video Player as a converter, you can turn a file into an iPhone supported format and transfer it to your device via iTunes. To activate this feature, you have to purchase a license for $9.99 (1 Mac/Lifetime license). The upgraded version also gives free technical support and other benefits such as removal of ads.
Since the early 2000s, the DivX company has been providing users worldwide with high-quality solutions for playing digital video. Its same-name video player DivX supports a wide range of formats including HD 1080p and 4K UHD videos.
This software has an intuitive interface and an overwhelming feature set. It can stream videos to DLNA-compatible devices. Just use the “Cast to” options and pick a device you want to stream to (Chromecast, Smart TV, Playstation, Xbox, etc). Also, DivX can help you burn media to discs or change the viewing size of the playback in a few clicks.
Despite the fact the player is free, access to its many features is quite limited. To make the most of using this software, you need to buy a DivX Pro for $19.99. The advanced version includes an ad-free option and adds AC3 audio playback, Cloud Connect to import videos from Dropbox and Google Drive, a DTS-HD plugin, and VideoPack to convert VC-1 and MPEG-2 video to DivX, MKV and MP4.
The free version comes with a 15-day or 30-day trial of some features so that you can try them and decide whether it’s worth the money or not.
During testing, DivX played a movie without glitches but crashed unexpectedly several times.
As a multifunctional video player for Mac, Elmedia by Eltima Software supports all popular video formats (MP4, FLV, AVI, MKV, MOV, WMV, MKV, and others). The program plays HD media without slowdown or any interruptions. It’s also powerful enough to stream content to Apple TV, Smart TV, and other AirPlay or DLNA devices.
Elmedia allows users to customize playback speed, manage audio and subtitle delay, and browse the web without leaving the app. With its help, you can create and manage bookmarks to easily find your favorite parts of a movie.
The user-friendly interface of an app is an excellent match to the newer macOS versions. Elmedia offers tons of tools to improve your watching experience, but not all of them are free of charge. The PRO version of the app costs $19.95.
The last-but-not-least video player on our list is IINA, a modern movie-watching app for Mac. Just like players listed above, IINA can play almost any format and offers useful customization options.
The app requires macOS 10.11 or newer. Written in Apple’s Swift programming language, it’s based on an open-source video player and is still under development. When complete, it’s going to give the best video players a run for their money.
The player supports local files, online streaming, and YouTube playlists. It also has good gesture support via trackpad that can be modified up to your preferences. If you already have macOS Mojave, you’ll surely like IINA for its UI with colors and icons that can adjust for dark mode.
After in-depth testing of various video players for Mac, we’ve found the best options to help you create a real home cinema experience with your computer — VLC, 5K Player, and Plex. Whether you watch movies from time to time or want to create a stunning video collection, we hope this review will help you choose software that suits your needs.
Have you tried another app that’s worth being featured in this review? Let us know in the comments below!