I, like quite a few people, am not a huge fan of Apple’s default media software, QuickTime, which comes bundled in with every release of OS X. Although it gets the job done for some things, I find that the range of codecs and built-in features is a little limited and not enough to suit my needs (and videos!). There are plenty of alternatives out there on the Internet, and with Front Row gone from all future releases of OS X starting from Lion, now is really the time to start looking around for an alternative.
So without further ado, here are my 5 top free alternatives to QuickTime.
VLC is currently one of the most popular alternatives to QuickTime for OS X and seems to be able to handle almost every single media file you throw at it. It supports a wide range of codecs (including some more obscure ones as well), often without any additional software and also deals with subtitles and music files without any problems. The program integrates with Lion’s full-screen mode and the recent update to version 2 brought along a new, overhauled interface and experimental Blu-Ray support for the Mac. For a free and open-source program, VLC is jam-packed full of features and is a must-have program for every Mac user.
Requires: OS X 10.5 and above (older versions available)
MPlayerX is another open-source Mac video player that is quite similar to VLC. It’ll play a wide range of video and audio files (again without the need for any additional codecs or software) and has a few other hidden features, such as multi-touch and Apple Remote support. The interface is based on that of QuickTime’s with the same minimal approach and one feature I love about MPlayerX is the bookmark feature which remembers where you played up to last time – something which I think every video player should have.
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Plex is more like a media centre than an individual video player, but if you’re still grieving over the death of Front Row then Plex is a pretty good replacement for it. It sorts your video collection out into films and TV shows and downloads the synopsis and cover art for each one, giving it a more organised look. You can also stream online content from sources such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu straight from the app and, like VLC and MPlayerX, supports a wide range of video codecs without any additional software.
Another great feature of Plex is Plex Media Server, which allows you to stream all your videos and music to your iOS device (you’ll need to buy the Plex for iOS client though, which is available from the App Store for $4.99).
Price: Free (Mac version)
Requires: OS X 10.6 and above (Intel only)
Developer: Plex Inc
Miro is an open-source media player with a built-in torrent client and an interface that has taken a few leaves out of the iTunes book. Although it won’t play media files different to any other media player, it has a built-in video converter with tons of presets (including for the iPhone and iPad). You can also share your media files over your local network with anyone who also has Miro installed and there’s an iPad version in the works, which promises the ability to stream and transfer videos and music to it.
Requires: OS X 10.5 and above
Developer: Participatory Culture Foundation
XBMC is another open-source media centre which can play most types of video, music and picture. The interface is very customizable (there’s a load of different skins and plug-ins available for it from their website) and the program is completely open-source, meaning that almost anyone can develop a feature for it. Although I prefer Plex for usability and features, XBMC is a very good (and completely open-source) alternative and is most definitely worth a look at least.
Over To You!
I hope that this little collection of applications helps you on your quest to find an alternative for QuickTime. All of the ones listed above have a wide and very different range of features, so the best thing really is to download each one and try them out (besides, they’re all free anyway!) to see which one suits you best.
I personally use VLC for pretty much anything as it’s so simple to use and it supports such a wide range of formats. Now, it’s over to you. Which is your favourite alternative video player? Or are you a loyal QuickTime fan? Have we missed one out in the list above? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!