Have an .mkv movie file? Wondering what the heck it is and how to play it?

High Definition movies in 720 or 1080 pixel width format are often encoded and packaged as a Matroska format video with a .mkv file extension.

Apple QuickTime doesn’t handle this format natively so you have to add a package handler for mkv files to QuickTime to play .mkv files.

A quick and easy solution to how to play .mkv files is to install Perian, which makes QuickTime play .avi, .flv, and .mkv files and handles many different and popular encoding formats for video.

Perian for QuickTime

Remember to fully quit and re-launch QuickTime after installing Perian (don’t just close the QuickTime window, it’s still running until you Quit the program). This allows QuickTime to reload its list of handled formats and encodings.

When double clicking on an .mkv file to play it, you may have to wait until the entire film is buffered in QuickTime before it will play smoothly.  You can tell the progress of the buffering by looking at the grey timeline bar that is inching across the bottom left of the QuickTime window, starting near the 00:00 time marker. This is one of the oddities of the .mkv Matroska video package format. Don’t ask me why this happens, just keep this in mind next time you want to watch an mkv video on your Mac use Perian.