What is QuickTime Player on Mac?

The Apple QuickTime Player is part of the standard equipment of the pre-installed apps under macOS. But what can you actually do with this app on the Mac? Can it play more than videos, and what formats does it actually support? In this guide you will find answers to these and other questions QuickTime Player app on Mac. I also look at the history of development, at previous versions and at their properties. Have fun while reading. If you have any additions or questions, please leave a comment!

What is Apple QuickTime Player on Mac? Where does the name come from and what can you do with the macOS app? Here you will find answers to these and other questions.
What is Apple QuickTime Player on Mac? Where does the name come from and what can you do with the macOS app? Here you will find answers to these and other questions.

What actually is QuickTime?

The term "QuickTime" comes from the multimedia software architecture of the same name, which provides the basic substructure for the media to be displayed. Not only is it part of the QuickTime Player app, but it's also present in other media software. In addition to Apple's own apps such as Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro is QuickTime e.g. B. a part of Adobe programs and offerings of Avid Technology Inc. QuickTime was first released in 1990, which enabled Macintosh computers to play video at 156 x 116 pixels at up to 10 frames per second. Later there was also a version for Windows; in 1998, the MPEG-4 file format was built on top of QuickTime.

While QuickTime comes standard with Mac OS, OS X, macOS, and other Mac operating systems, Windows and Linux do not. Until 2016, the Windows version was actively developed by Apple and offered as a system extension. There were various open source approaches for Linux, such as OpenQuickTime or OpenQTJ. However, due to the implementation of the basic and important QuickTime elements in MPEG format and in other media content, in many places there is no longer a need for a version that is explicitly designed for a system. Today, QuickTime is no longer part of iTunes for Windows; even in macOS, the QTKit or AV Foundation substructure fell away over time.

With QuickTime as a component, systems and apps can play, manipulate, export, and interact with various media and content. Here is a selection of the individual and combinable contents:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • animations
  • graphics
  • 3D content
  • VR content
  • text
  • smile
  • Hyperlinks
  • Streams
  • Skins
  • MIDI

Formats and codecs supported by the QuickTime framework

QuickTime and the systems or programs equipped with it (e.g. the Apple QuickTime Player described here) support a wide range of video codecs, video formats, audio codecs, audio formats and graphics formats. Here is an overview of the formats and codecs currently supported by QuickTime:

  • Video Codec List: Animation, Apple BMP, Apple Pixlet Video, Apple ProRes 422, Avid DNxHD, Avid DNxHR, 8-Bit Uncompressed 4:2:2, 10-Bit Uncompressed 4:2:2, Cinepak, Component Video, DV / DVC, DV NTSC and PAL, DVCPRO HD 720p60, DVCPRO HD 1080i60, DVCPRO NTSC and PAL, DVCPRO50 NTSC, DVCPRO50 PAL, Graphics, H.261, H.262 (PlugIn), H.263, H.264 (= MP4/AVC; MP4/Part 10; ITU H.26L), H.265/HEVC (since macOS 10.13), JPEG 2000, Microsoft OLE, Microsoft Video 1, Motion JPEG A and B, MPEG-4 (Xvid[9]), Photo JPEG, Planar RGB, Sorenson Video, Sorenson Video 2, Sorenson Video 3, TGA, TIFF, Video, WMV (PlugIn)
  • Video Format List: AutoDesk FLC, ISO MPEG-1, ISO MPEG-2 (PlugIn), ISO MPEG-4, Kaydara FBX (PlugIn), Microsoft AVI, Microsoft WMV (PlugIn), Motion Data AMC, On2 VP3 (PlugIn), Panasonic DVCPro, QuickTime Movie (MOV), Shockwave Flash, Sony DVCAM, Sony VDU, Streambox ACT (PlugIn)
  • Audio codec list: 24-bit integer, 32-bit integer, 32-bit floating point, 64-bit floating point, A-law 2:1, AAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF / Wave, Apple AU, FLAC (since macOS 10.13), IMAC 4:1, MACE 3:1 / 6:1, MP3, MS ADPCM, QDesign Music 2, Qualcomm PureVoice
  • Audio format list: AAC, AU, AIFF, GSM, MP3, WAV, SF2
  • Graphic format list: BMP, GIF, JPEG 2000, JPEG, Photoshop Document, PICS, PICT, PLS, PNG


What does QuickTime Player do on macOS?

That sounds like a whole lot of content and associated ways to use it, right? Most of us probably use the whole thing without giving a thought to the underlying software architecture. And also the Apple QuickTime Player, which you can find on the Mac under Macintosh HD -> Program is probably less used with the thought of the exact structure of digital video containers. It just starts when you open a video file. In addition to playback, however, more is possible, such as cutting the opened clip. Here are the instructions: Cut videos in QuickTime Player - Here's how!

Recording functions: movie recording, audio recording, screen recording

In addition to the playback and (simple) editing of existing media, the QuickTime Player can also be used to create new media files. Open the app under macOS on the Apple Mac and click in the menu bar filing, then you will encounter these three options as the first points in the menu that opens:

  • New Movie Capture: Capture video using the built-in or connected camera and built-in or connected microphone
  • New audio recording: Record audio with the built-in or a connected microphone
  • New screen recording: Select a screen section and record the content and activities displayed in it, including optional audio recording and mouse click highlighting (Details)

Other features in QuickTime Player: Official manual website

Creation and development of Apple's QuickTime Player

In the Wikipedia article on the app (here) is explained in summary: "The player does not play the video or music files, but rather acts as a graphical user interface for QuickTime.And that's exactly how Apple developed the program. Because there should be a way to test QuickTime 1.0. The further development of this test method resulted in the MoviePlayer and later the Apple QuickTime Player for macOS and Windows. As mentioned above, the Windows version 2016 has been discontinued. However, the app is still available under macOS on the Mac, including under macOS 12 Monterey (as of April 4, 2022).

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