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[Solved] Can't Play HEVC/H.265 Videos on macOS

If you're seeking for an easy & 100% efficient solution: The solution most recommended by us [85%]

MacBook/iMac Can't Play Videos in HEVC Format? Your Problem Will Be Fixed Here!

H.265/HEVC is a great successor to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, many guys have access and apply this codec for better video quality and smaller size. However, many users just realized that they can't play HEVC videos on Photos, VLC, QuickTime on macOS (Big Sur). For example, Handbrake encoded HEVC MP4 videos can't be played on High Sierra or later in QuickTime, HEVC is choppy or plays sound but not picture, VLC freezes when playing HEVC files or pops up a "No suitable decoder module" error, or they simply get an error message "Photos cannot play this video because it uses an unsupported format" etc.

HEVC files not playing QuickTime, Photos, VLC in macOS

Why HEVC video won't play on MacBook Pro/Air, iMac etc? The fundamental reason comes that HEVC is not supported widely. The fact is that HEVC/H.265 file is absolutely not supported on Photos app and QuickTime Player, and you cannot play 4K H.265 on VLC without an installation of x265 codec. From an operating system perspective, HEVC codec is only compatible on macOS Higher Sierra or later. And old hardware can also result in HEVC video playback failure with lags and stuttering, as well as getting Mac computer overheated with exhausted CPU usage.

Solution 1: Upgrade macOS to High Sierra or Later +

You know, only macOS High Sierra or later supports HEVC H.265. If you're using old version macOS, the upgrading macOS will be the initial step to make HEVC/H.265 videos playable on Mac. But not all Mac computers are available to update to macOS High Sierra, Mojave, or Catalina. Here comes the compatible models on macOS High Sierra, MOjave and Catalina:

Check macOS High Sierra/Mojave/Catalina compatible Mac models

After you check compatibility, go the following steps to upgrade to High Sierra/Mojave/Catalina: Make a backup of your Mac > Make sure you have a reliable Internet connection > Download macOS High Sierra or higher version > Begin installation > Allow installation to complete. Click here to go through the detailed guide >>

Solution 2: Replace Your Poor and Old Hardware +

Playing HEVC/h.265 files also requires a lot on computer hardware. For solely CPU decoding, at least an Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 5 or better CPU are needed to get a good experience. While CPU decoding could consume a lot of resource, and it's easy to get a high CPU usage, up to 350% for i7 processor. So you'd better configure your Mac computer with a graphic card which is available for hardware acceleration. For that, 5K iMac (late 2015), 27-inch iMac, and MacBook Pros 2016 or newer powered by the 7th Kaby Lake Intel Core processor support decoding and encoding 4K HEVC videos.

Besides, HDMI has also been cited as cause of 4K HEVC playback failed on Mac. For 4K videos at 60fps, you need HDMI 2.0 or the upgrades HDMI 2.0a. That's also the reason that why Macbook Pro cannot play 4K videos at 60 fps. However, you can make HEVC at 60FPS playable on Macbook Pro with a Thunderbolt/Mini DP to HDMI 2.0 adapter.

The Most Straightforward Way: Make HEVC Video Fully Compatible on MacOS The Key: Transcode HEVC/H.265 Video to a Mac Compatible Format. The Easiest Solution

Analysis: Upgrading macOS and enhacing the hardware only ensure that your Mac computer owns the ability to play HEVC video. As to whether it can be played successfully or not, it relies on the HEVC player to the end. But unfortunately, QuickTime and Photos don't support the HEVC codec natively, and VLC can only access codec in "hvc1" instead of "hev1" after x265 codec installed. Thus, rather than spending a lot of money and time on upgrading computer software and hardware for HEVC playback, why not use a HEVC/H.265 converter to make HEVC video compatible with your current Mac? MacX Video Converter Pro is the best option!

MacX Video Converter Pro - Convert HEVC/H.265 to H.264 or Any Mac Compatible Formats

  • Transcode 4K/HD HEVC to H.264, MP4, MOV or any Mac compatible formats, and 420+ profiles.
  • Adjust 4K HEVC parameters to perfectly fit Mac screens, like resolution, frame rate, bitrate etc.
  • Compress 4K UHD videos to smaller size by up to 90% reduction, without visually quality loss.
  • 5 times faster speed to process 4K HEVC videos with unique level-3 hardware acceleration enabled.

Download MacX Video Converter Pro macOS version to convert 4K HEVC to Mac compatible formats

Download MacX Video Converter Pro Windows version to convert 4K HEVC to H.264, MP4, MOV etc.

After free download this HEVC converter, launch it and follow the steps below to convert MKV/M2TS HEVC to MP4, H.264, MOV for playing smoothly on Mac computers.

Step 1. Click on +Video button, navigate to the target 4K HEVC you want to import and click Open button. You can import multiple videos in the same way to convert them in batch.

Step 2. Select an output format from the automatically popped up window, where more than 420 preset profiles are available for your choice. You're recommended to scroll down Mac General Video > MP4 Video (H.264) > Done to transcode 4K HEVC to MP4 H.264 for smoothly playback on Macbook Pro/Air, iMac etc.

Convert 4K HEVC to MP4 H.264 to perfectly fit Mac screens

Step 3. If you don't want to change the HEVC codec of 4K UHD video, you can choose MP4 Video (HEVC) as an output and click on the gear-shaped Settings button to adjust the video parameters. For example, lower the bitrate by 20%-50%, maintain the frame rate for great fluency, and lower 4K resolution to 1920×1080 or retain the original if your MBP is available for 4K UHD playback.

Tweak 4K HEVC video parameters

Step 4. Optionally, you can specify the output folder path to save your converted video through Browse button. Then hit the RUN button to start converting 4K HEVC video to Mac in a very short time with GPU acceleration enabled. By the way, if your computer supports hardware acceleration, the program will automatically tick the box of Intel/AMD/Nvidia hardware encoder to enable it.

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Kaley Torres

Kaley Torres is particularly skilled in writing and sharing video-related contents. Her guides cover from deep-seated video/audio parameters, to media entertainment on different platforms. She also enjoys shooting and processing videos by herself for a more reliable basis of informative info with her articles.

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