0 comments Facebook Twitter Reddit
AppleInsider may earn affiliate commissions for purchases made through links on our site.
Apple's QuickTime technology is 30 years old, but it's still supported by Apple. Here's how to use the QuickTime Player included with macOS.
Before the Internet, and long before streaming, there was QuickTime. Released by Apple in 1992, it was a revolutionary technology for the time, providing synchronized recording and playback of audiovisual data. QuickTime (or “.mov”) files were used to transfer video between computers.
The early QuickTime player was rudimentary: black and white controls, tiny playback windows, and limited color depth. AV compression was provided by QuickTime plug-ins. Each codec has an identifying 4-digit code, and the original Apple QuickTime codec had (and still has) a “.mov” code.
A few years later, Apple released a version for Windows.
Early versions of QuickTime for Mac were also released on 3.5-inch floppy disks.
Many third-party editing applications based on QuickTime have emerged, the most famous of which is Adobe Premiere. Premiere lives today in Premiere Pro from Adobe Creative Cloud.
When Apple released Mac OS X in 2000, it included a new, redesigned player application with a larger window, additional features, and improved codecs. released a streaming server that allowed QuickTime movies to be streamed over the Internet.
Using Modern QuickTime Player
Apple still ships QuickTime Player today with macOS, although the .mov file format is no longer actively developed by Apple—it has been replaced by MP4, H.264, and H.265/. HEVC formats.
QuickTime Player follows Apple's minimalist design and allows you to perform basic video/audio editing functions in the player's main window. It also allows you to export files to some other AV formats and share files. There's also a screen recording feature, a relatively new addition to the player.
You can also expand the player window to full screen and use it to watch movies and TV shows. If your Mac has a built-in camera or you have a connected camera capable of recording video, you can also record new movies and save them to files.
By connecting an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad with a USB cable, you can also use it as a camera to record videos.
The player's basic functions are opening, saving, exporting, and copying and pasting. There are also the usual standard file commands: Open, Close and Save.
If you hold down the Option key while the File menu is open, “Close” will change to “Close All”, which will close all open movie windows. There is also an option to “Open Location…” (from URL), “Open Image Sequence…” (for QuickTime image formats), and “Open Recent”.
Selecting “Open…” displays the standard macOS open dialog, but clicking the small button in the top left corner with 4 squares and selecting “Columns” from the pop-up menu switches the window to NeXT-style columns mode, which displays a preview of a still movie right for the selected movie.
You can also duplicate, rename and move from the File menu. Duplicate opens an identical unsaved window whose name can be specified in the window's title bar. If you choose “Rename” from the “File” menu in an existing movie window, you can rename the saved file in the same way.
Move to… – a small window with a list of storage locations where you can move the file. However, only top-level destinations are available – this is not a standard open or save window.
Export As… allows you to export to a small number of formats such as 480p, 720p, 1080p, 4K, or just audio. The “Share…” menu item below allows you to send the movie to AirDrop, Notes, Messages, or YouTube if you have an account.
The View menu has commands to:
- Make the movie window full screen
- Put it above all other windows
- Zoom in or out < /li>
- Change movie speed
- Switch language audio tracks
- Turn subtitles on and off
- Change time display format
- Transition forward or backward by chapter
- Show additional audio tracks (if any)
- and repeat
The time format options allow you to display time in time code format SMPTE is the standard used by professional video editors and most video editing software. You can also jump to a specific SMPTE time in a movie if it contains a timecode track.
If you're using a modern Apple keyboard, you can also set the frontmost movie window to full screen by pressing the fn + F keys at the same time. The fn function key is located in the lower left corner of the Apple keyboard with a globe symbol. Pressing fn+F again exits full screen mode.
The Window menu has many commands, including the usual Window menu commands such as Minimize, Zoom, Move to Built-in Retina Display if you're using an external display, as well as “Fit to screen”, “Fill”. Screen, Panorama, Zoom In and Zoom Out (Command-[, Command-] respectively), as well as Show Movie Inspector and Show Export Progress.
Choosing “Show Movies Inspector” opens a small inspector window containing 4 areas of information about the frontmost movie:
Player Window Controls
Note that you must hover your Mac over the QuickTime Player window to display the window controls. If you move the mouse cursor outside the window borders, the controls will be hidden.
Basic player window controls include bottom slider, volume slider, playback and seek forward/backward controls, time counters, AirPlay sharing control, Picture-in-Picture button, and sharing and playback speed pop-up menu control:
You can also move forward or backward by 1 second by pressing the right or left arrow on your keyboard.
By pressing the AirPlay button, you will see a pop-up menu of all TV devices within range that support AirPlay wireless sharing. These can be third-party TVs, as well as Apple TV.
To the right of the AirPlay control is a Picture-in-Picture (PiP) feature, and clicking it moves the frontmost movie window to the top-right corner of the screen, where it will hover above all other windows. If you hover over the PiP window, 3 controls will be displayed: a close button, a play button, and another PiP button that exits PiP mode when clicked.
Pressing the rightmost control (with two right arrows) opens the Sharing and Playback Speed menus.
The “Share” menu items are essentially the same as the “Share” menu of the “File” menu, but with the “More…” option, which opens a window for sharing content with any sharing extensions. access, if installed.
Pressing the green (third) movie window button in the upper left corner also toggles full screen mode. In full screen mode, to exit you will need to hover over the top left corner of the display to show the window's title bar again in order to access the control.
Apple has a page in the QuickTime Player User Guide titled “Recording Movie in QuickTime Player on Mac”. This is a very simple overview of the basic recording features in QuickTime Player. You can also view it in QuickTime Player by selecting QuickTime Player Help from the Help menu.
You can also make an audio recording.
To start recording, select File, then New Video Recording or File, then New Audio Recording. A recording window will appear with a live feed from the default camera (usually the built-in “iSight” camera for Mac). The record button is in the center of the window.
If you click the little downward-pointing arrow next to the Record button, a pop-up window will display a variety of recording options. The top section tells you which connected camera you want to record from, the next section is the audio input for recording, and the next section is for screen recording, which we'll get to next.
Please note that iOS devices on the list of unsupported legacy Apple devices will not be listed in the Camera or Microphone sections, although screen recording from them may be available. Starting with macOS 13 Ventura, only iPhone 7 and later are supported.
Also note that you can record video and audio independently from different devices. This allows you to capture video from an iPhone or iPad, for example when using an external microphone such as a USB podcasting microphone or an external Bluetooth wireless microphone.
At the bottom of the pop-up menu is a section of the capture quality menu, which has options depending on which device you are recording from.
Press the “Record” button to start recording, and again to stop recording. After you stop recording, the recording window will close and your new movie will open in the standard movie playback window.
Save the movie to a file immediately to avoid data loss.
You can also record the screen of an Apple device, although this is a bit more fragmented in QuickTime Player depending on which device you want to record from. If you want to record from an external device such as an iPhone/iPad or a nearby Apple TV, the recording options are listed in the same recording pop-up menu as shown above.
To start screen recording from iPhone/iPad or Apple TV, follow the steps mentioned above, but instead of selecting “Camera” at the top of the pop-up menu, select the device in the “Screen” section below it. If it's an iOS device, it must be connected to your Mac via a USB cable.
When you select a device from the Screen list, the recording window will change and the screen of the device will be displayed instead of the camera input.
If you select Apple TV from the Screen list in the recording popup, it will first display a 4-digit code on the Apple TV display and then prompt you to enter it on your Mac.
This is to prevent others from recording video from your Apple TV without your knowledge. All AppleTV recording is done through AirPlay, so you must enable AirPlay in the Apple TV's Settings app.
Recording your Mac's desktop
If you want to record your Mac's desktop screen in QuickTime Player, choose New Screen Recording from the File menu. A resizable selection area will appear on your Mac desktop, along with a small control panel below it.
You can resize/move the marquee to capture any area of the screen you want by dragging the resize handles along the marquee's edges, or by dragging the marquee by clicking and dragging its center.
In the recording control panel that appears, there are 5 buttons on the left: “Capture the entire screen”, “Capture the window”, “Capture the selected part”, “Record the entire screen” and “Record the selected part”.
There is also an Options button with Save to, Timer, Microphone, and Options sections. On the far right is the record button.
The three “Capture” options are actually taken from the Mac screenshot feature, which allows you to take screenshots of your Mac.
To exit selection mode and return to your Mac desktop, press the Escape key on your Mac keyboard, or click the close button on the recording control panel on the left.
After you stop recording, a new recording will be sent to whatever menu option you selected in the Save To section of the Options menu.
Most editing in QuickTime Player is done from the Edit menu or in the player window itself.
There are 2 main ways to start editing: choose Trim (Command-T) or Add Clip to End from the Edit menu.
You can rotate the movie in 90 degree increments or flip it horizontally or vertically. You can also remove either all video tracks or all audio tracks using the Remove Video and Remove Audio menu items.
After you select “Crop” from the Edit menu, a simple “Crop” panel appears with “Crop” and “Cancel” buttons. You can trim the beginning or end of a clip by dragging the ends of the trim control and then clicking the Trim button.
Once the Trim control has been resized, you can move it forward or backward in the movie by holding down the Command key and dragging any of its handles to either side:
If When you click anywhere in the clip while using the Trim control, a playback head position control will appear. If you press the Play button, playback will start from the current head position.
To exit the crop control, click the Cancel button.
Selecting Split Clip (Command-Y) from the Edit menu splits the clip for editing into multiple segments, one each time a menu item is selected. After splitting, double-click any segment in the Split control to enter the Trim control again.
If you click the Trim or Cancel button, you will return to the Split control. If you click the Done button in the Split control, you will return to the main movie window.
In split mode, if you select one of the split movie clips, the “Insert clip at end” command will change to “Insert clip after selection”, allowing you to insert a completely different movie from a different file.
Note that the Split Clip command only allows you to cut, copy, paste, or delete in Split mode: it does not actually create a new clip or movie window after splitting.
Apple originally had the QuickTime standard for the web, which was later replaced by the Darwin Streaming Server in 1999, then the Server QuickTime Streaming (QSS).
Apple also released a Mac OS X desktop application called QuickTime Broadcaster that allowed users to easily stream QuickTime movies on the web:
But when the Internet standard RFC 8216 (HTTP Live Streaming) was released by the IETF in 2009, Apple quickly adopted it and dropped support for QSS and Darwin Streaming Server.
Today, Apple fully supports HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), but encoding tools and server configuration require the use of a terminal.
Though the QuickTime Player is a thing of the past, it still provides easy management of modern and legacy media. Along with Apple's HLS technology, it's pretty easy to play, record, and edit media and set up a basic streaming server.
We can explore setting up an HLS server in the next article. See also Use HEIF or HEVC media on Apple devices.
If you want to check for older versions, the Apple Support Downloads page has older versions of players released in 2003.